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07-22-2014, 06:07 PM   #16
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To be able to adjust any image, especially one with this broad brightness range, you need to shoot in RAW. B&H uploaded this video
where the presenter explains the differences between JPEG and RAW formats.


The short answer is that the RAW is adjustable in ways that JPEGs aren't. Additionally, RAW files have a huge amount of data that can be utilized in post. When shooting RAW, if your highlights are too bright, you can bring them down in post. The same exposure saved as a JPEG means that it's pretty much fixed and you can't change things.
When adjusting RAW files, you can adjust the highlight and shadow areas separate from each other. All RAW files will have much more info that JPEGs and it's this extra info that allows the highlights and shadows to be adjusted (along with color balance). However, the distribution of this additional information is not evenly spread between highlights and shadows. There's actually much, much more info in the shadows than highlights which means that you can open up the shadows much more and easily than lower the highlight values. With this in mind, you should get in the habit of looking at your histogram and making sure that it's far to the right (commonly called shooting to the right) which basically means that you've exposed for the highlights to be properly exposed and have let your shadow areas fall where they may.


If you expose for the highlights by making sure that the bright areas are actually being recorded as bright areas, then you'll almost always have a RAW file that can have its shadows opened up in Lightroom or Photoshop. The human eyes will naturally close down when looking at bright parts of the scene, so by letting your shadows fall dark, you'll end up with a more natural looking image. Remember, if your RAW files have blown out detail in the highlights, then you will never be able to bring the information back.


A couple of things to consider when trying to shoot this type of scene: Use a flash as a fill by setting the camera on Av. Taking it off of P or Auto will tell the camera that you want to blend ambient and flash together. Being in Auto or Program will tell the camera to expose only for the flash. You could also use a large reflector to bounce light back towards the window which will even things out. while still maintaining a naturally lit look as opposed to the artificial look that can be obtained by using fill flash.

07-22-2014, 10:17 PM   #17
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QuoteOriginally posted by DaveNC Quote
I have yet to get very far into any kind of post-processing, but is most software able to lighten or darken specific (masked?) areas, or is it more of all highlights/all shadows adjustment. How about free options like Gimp or RawTherapee or Darktable?
The only tone I have actually worked with for this kind of problem is Lightroom. It has a digital version of a graduated filter with adjustable strength. It should be possible in other software, maybe not as easy.

QuoteQuote:
Thanks for that great explanation of using the camera's spot meter, and how to interpret the results. I think I actually understood that and am going to do some more experimenting with the camera. If I may ask a couple of follow up questions - (1) How do I know how many stops a fill-flash will add to the subject; (2) if the camera can capture 8 stops, then in your example, setting the shutter speed to the center (1/60) should result in a fairly balanced image, with the just the darkest and lightest areas too dark or light? Or am I missing something else?
(I'm sort of on the edge of my flash knowledge here, hopefully not wrong.)

Using flash is like two photos combined. The aperture, shutter and ISO make up one "ambient" exposure, and the flash does another exposure. The flash is sort of a black box - it won't say exactly what it can/will contribute, but you do have some control over it. With the camera in M mode, you can set an aperture, shutter* and ISO. Then meter will show you how much those settings (the ambient exposure) are off from what the meter thinks is correct. (I haven't looked up the K10D meter, I think this is right though.) So you might see the meter bar showing you are two stops underexposed (bar segments to the left of zero). The popup flash or a P-TTL hotshoe flash will try to add those two stops with a flash burst. The popup flash doesn't always have enough power to do what it's asked. You can change how much the flash will try to add with Flash Exposure Compensation in the Flash menus, from -2 stops to +1. So that's your ambient exposure, plus whatever the meter tells the flash to add, adjusted by the Flash Exposure Compensation. A hotshoe P-TTL flash has more power so is more likely to add the amount required. Mine has its own -2 to +1 stops adjustment.

A manual flash doesn't know the meter reading or the Flash Exposure Compensation. I'm not sure how you establish an initial power setting with a manual flash. Once you do, the power adjustment is in stops, listed as fractions of full power. So it's 1/1, 1/2, 1/4, 1/8, etc. Adding one stop of flash power is just going from 1/4 to 1/2.

*When the camera sees a flash attached or you raise the popup flash, the shutter speed has to be 1/180 or slower (1/160 if your metering steps are 1/3 stops).

Flash adds two more complications which are sometimes a problem. The light from the flash may be a different tint than the ambient light. You can see a little of that effect in your sample shot; the outdoor light is cooler than the room light. You can tint the flash with gels, process the photo with masks to adjust white balance, get a K-3 which will do it automagically or hope no one notices. Also the flash burst only lasts for 1/1000 sec or less with lower power. The flash exposure is effectively at this shutter speed, while the ambient exposure is at the set shutter speed. Movement (subject or camera) might show in the ambient exposure part of the shot, with a double image, streaks or other odd looking effects.
07-23-2014, 04:50 AM   #18
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QuoteOriginally posted by DaveNC Quote
What is the proper way to deal with a situation like this?
Shot RAW, spot meter on the highlights, let the shadows fall where they may, normalize in Photoshop and get a K5 or better.

NOTE:ideally push the highlights as far to the right as you can without overexposing (ETTR).

The whole purpose is not to try and get a proper exposure in camera but to expose for maximum editable data in the file to be normalized later in PP. Ideally you are exposing for the most optimum use of the sensor's DR.

So far as your original is concerned it's a goner - you exceeded the DR of your sensor so in the highlight area there is no data to process.

As it is the best you can do is doctor it up a bit.....

Last edited by wildman; 07-25-2014 at 08:37 AM.
07-23-2014, 04:53 AM   #19
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QuoteOriginally posted by FrankC Quote

The short answer is that the RAW is adjustable in ways that JPEGs aren't. Additionally, RAW files have a huge amount of data that can be utilized in post. When shooting RAW, if your highlights are too bright, you can bring them down in post. The same exposure saved as a JPEG means that it's pretty much fixed and you can't change things.
When adjusting RAW files, you can adjust the highlight and shadow areas separate from each other.
I totally agree with most of what you have said, however in today's realm of jpeg photo adjustment how much and what can be adjusted is limited only by what software one uses and what bit depth jpeg they edit with. Granted raw has a lot more information to utilize and is much better to work with for many reasons however if one uses a software such as ACR jpegs can have WB, highlight, shadow and mid-range adjusted separately just as independently as with raw photos. Maybe not with as much latitude but they are not limited to being fixed and not changeable. Currently Photoshop CC and Photoshop CC 2014 make it much easier to access ACR and be able to use their independent adjustments by including it's opening as a filter opposed to the older methods one had to use.

07-23-2014, 06:36 AM   #20
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QuoteOriginally posted by DaveNC Quote
(2) if the camera can capture 8 stops, then in your example, setting the shutter speed to the center (1/60) should result in a fairly balanced image, with the just the darkest and lightest areas too dark or light?
It depends on how the bright bits compare to the dark bits, but more or less, yes. With the same scene you could set 1/125s shutter (leaving iso and aperture unchanged) and preserve more highlight detail at the expense of the darker areas being even more black holes of nothingness. Or you could set a 1/30s shutter to lift up the darker areas at the expense of more highlights being blown out. Without any of the techniques already mentioned to deal with a high DR scene, setting the exposure is a big compromise of what details you want saved and what you're willing to lose. Given that the plant is a stand in for your granddaughter, a simple approach is to pick an exposure that works for her face and let the rest fall where it may.

As an exercise, try taking several pictures of the plant from the same location, keeping the iso and aperture fixed but changing the shutter speed each time (you can also use your cameras built in Bracketing feature, a handy thing to use in tough lighting conditions). Compare images in your editor, and if available turn on the 'blinkies' that show the areas where the highlights are blown and the shadow detail has been crushed. To get a better understanding of what your camera is capable of capturing you might also try this exercise outside, once with the plant (or human stand-in) in full on sunlight and another time with the plant in the shade or on a cloudy day where the light is more 'even'.
07-24-2014, 06:07 AM   #21
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Wow, lots of helpful information here! Too much to respond to each post individually, but thanks to everyone for the help. I'm still trying to absorb all the information in your replies, and experimenting with the camera, and watching the linked videos as well as others I found on the net. And actually, a lot of what you all are telling me is starting to make some sense.


I haven't given up on getting that perfectly exposed shot of the plant. If/when I get something decent I'll post it and see what you guys think. Maybe there's a solar eclipse or a K5 in my future (about the same chances of either one happening.)

I'm sure glad I found such a friendly and helpful bunch of people. Thanks again to everybody!


-Dave
07-25-2014, 03:15 PM   #22
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Some Success!

This afternoon I experimented some more with my Lilly in front of the Sliding Glass Door shot. I decided to let the camera figure it out and learn by examining what it was choosing. I used P mode (Program Line 1-Normal) and turned on Exposure Bracketing. After several attempts, I came up with this, at f/4, 1/45 sec, and ISO 100. This was done with the matrix metering and turned out to be the "high exposure" shot of the bracket. I locked exposure with the bright glass out of the scene and moved back to my subject. It called for a flash on and I popped up the built-in one.

It may not be perfect, but I can live with it. The highlights don't look totally blown out, so maybe some post-processing could improve it, but there's really nothing of interest out that sliding glass door except a lawn that I should be mowing instead of playing with the camera. But post-processing is another subject that I have to work on.

I shot this RAW and just loaded it into Raw Therapee, let it use the "Auto" settings, resized for uploading to the forum, and saved it.

Still learning... But this brings up another question concerning Depth of Field. at f/4, why is the background still almost in focus? I guess I need a lens that will allow a smaller aperture to get it blurred more?

Thanks for all your patience with this newbie!

-Dave
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07-26-2014, 02:54 AM   #23
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QuoteOriginally posted by Just1MoreDave Quote
The only tone I have actually worked with for this kind of problem is Lightroom. It has a digital version of a graduated filter with adjustable strength. It should be possible in other software, maybe not as easy.
You're limited by that to the edges.

The radial filter will let you choose elliptical areas to recover detail from dark or bright areas.

The adjustment brush will let you be very precise in the areas you choose, especially with the mask check box ticked.

07-27-2014, 07:43 PM   #24
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If you want the bright background to come out well exposed (not blown out) and the foreground to come out well exposed, use the pop-up flash on your camera. I do this all the time as long as it's not a person. Expose for the bright light then use the pop-up flash to even out the dynamic range. You might have to play with the output(EV) of the flash so it does not look artificial. Cheers !
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