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08-13-2009, 05:04 PM   #1
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Help with Buildings where a portion is in the shade

I picked up a DA10-17 and was messing around with it shooting a brick building. The sky was overcast, actually it was just starting to rain with the sun high in the sky (1:45PM). I was specifically trying to photo an Archway, but was having problems getting the details of the brick on the front and underneath it in the shadow.

The first was at 1/125 f5.6 and I like how rich the color of the bricks are in this one, but the underneath portion is a bit too dark. So, the next one was at 1/90 f5.6. The sky and front looks blown out.

I am trying to figure out the happy medium? Should I have changed my focus point?

Last edited by Damn Brit; 08-13-2009 at 05:56 PM. Reason: Added IMGWIDE tags
08-13-2009, 05:16 PM   #2
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The second one. Shoot in raw, then darken the bricks a bit in postprocessing. Pushing shadows up will introduce noise, and DSLRs deal better with highlights than shadows (retains more detail). The blown sky isn't a problem in this shot because there's no detail even when it's not blown. It's very close to white and unless you expose it darker significantly it will just look white.

my 2c

Last edited by Andi Lo; 08-13-2009 at 05:54 PM.
08-13-2009, 06:39 PM   #3
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I'm thinking other way... You can't restore blown highlights - say, trees to the left, but you can recover moderate shadows quite well if you shoot RAW - I remember someone showing how shadow details in Pentax K10D (dunno what OP's shooting) are quite good for pushing, and noise really isn't that apparent unless you go wild with it.
My advice would be to open the first picture in Photoshop and use Shadow/Highlights tool on the background copy layer. It's in Image->Adjustments->Shadow/Highlights. There are a lot of options there, though, so just to get you started, I'm thinking Tonal Width should be at ~25%, and then you adjust recovery percentage. If you feel like you're lighting up too much of an image (i.e. if you just want to brighten shadow area of the arc, but the brighter nes are also getting brighter), just decrease tonal width.
If you need more help, just ask.

08-13-2009, 06:45 PM   #4
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Oh, and there's an option of combining those two, but aligning will be a pain get photomatix if you want to try that

08-13-2009, 08:36 PM   #5
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Remote flash

Another way to solve this problem would be to use a remotely triggered flash, in the archway, pointed up. I don't know if you could use a Pentax 360 or 540 p-ttl flash, with the on-camera flash as the controller or not. You could always use a radio trigger, or a very long synch cable.

You don't really need a flash for the outside of the archway, just the inside, so an on camera flash isn't necessary or desireable. You'd have to experiment with the placement and power setting for the flash.

Paul Noble
08-14-2009, 06:20 AM   #6
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Thanks for all the suggestions. As usual, like everything in life, there's more than one way to skin a cat. Sorry for the lame analogy. I'm having fun trying to figure all this out.
08-14-2009, 06:54 AM   #7
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Could always try using a smaller aperture to help out the sky from being overblown, also maybe spot metering.
08-14-2009, 09:28 AM   #8
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Could always try using a smaller aperture to help out the sky from being overblown, also maybe spot metering.
If you use an aperture so small that sky becomes, eh... gray? The building will be pitch black with no hopes of recovery If you use spot metering... Well, the whole picture will be overexposed since center is about in shadow area.

08-14-2009, 09:36 AM   #9
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Also with K20D, try the expanded dynamic range feature (Fn+D-pad Right (ISO) 'D-Range').

If you're shooting JPEG, try reducing contrast.

I would suggest experimenting with these settings in a similar high-contrast scenario so you can be more comfortable with the impact each will have. Compare their histograms as well.

Most likely either of your original images could have been improved in the direction you are seeking using curves, reduced contrast, "fill lighting", etc.
08-14-2009, 09:47 AM   #10

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If all you are concerned about is the archway, there is a lot that can be done in post processing.

08-14-2009, 03:06 PM   #11
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You can try and play with HDR too for the heck of it.
Good PP softwares work too!
08-15-2009, 12:25 PM   #12
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You could bracket exposures and combine in PP.

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