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12-28-2009, 01:42 PM   #1
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Exposure problems

Hi,

Hope you all had a good Xmas.

I am new to Photography and brought an awesome Pentax K20D. I love it.

I have been experimenting and taking loads of pictures since I got it but have been struggling with exposure settings.

When I try to photograph someone or something against the blue sky during the day time I either get the object in front underexposed with the background exposed correctly or the background is very over exposed and the foreground is just right.

Can anyone tell me if there are any work arounds whilst taking the photo or post production? Any advice would be hugely appreciated.

Many thanks,

Matt

12-28-2009, 01:56 PM   #2
Ash
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Ah, Matt this is a common issue, and it's due to the huge contrast difference between the bright sky and the more subdued foreground. What you would need in those circumstances is a graduated ND filter that can decrease the intensity of the sky whilst retaining the brightness of the foreground. A shot taken with such a filter is then able to retain details in both the sky and foreground, giving a more pleasing result.

Another tool recently made easy to implement is HDR - bracketing the scene and then uploading the exposures into an HDR processing software package - this is a skill one has to develop, and one that I have not delved into (I quite like the grad ND filter application).

Even more success wold occur if the same scene were captured at dusk, where the sky intensity is greatly reduced and better balanced with the foreground - of course, this has the added benefit of offering a beautiful array of sunset colours in the sky, which add more drama to the scene.

Have a read of these articles:
https://www.pentaxforums.com/forums/photography-articles/39743-understanding-...-kit-lens.html
12-28-2009, 02:02 PM   #3
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In addition to Ash's suggestions, you can use the flash to brighten the subject while still exposing correctly for the background.
12-28-2009, 02:09 PM   #4
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Yep. That's not the camera: that's the world.

12-28-2009, 10:07 PM   #5
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The standard technique for dealing with this in shooting is to meter off the ground first - either using the AE-L button to lock exposure, or using M mode.
12-28-2009, 10:21 PM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by mattmiles Quote
Hi,

Hope you all had a good Xmas.

I am new to Photography and brought an awesome Pentax K20D. I love it.

I have been experimenting and taking loads of pictures since I got it but have been struggling with exposure settings.

When I try to photograph someone or something against the blue sky during the day time I either get the object in front underexposed with the background exposed correctly or the background is very over exposed and the foreground is just right.

Can anyone tell me if there are any work arounds whilst taking the photo or post production? Any advice would be hugely appreciated.

Many thanks,

Matt
All of the above Matt.

What may also help is to post a couple of examples of what concerns you, with exif data intact, this is a big help to those of us trying to help you.
01-27-2010, 10:48 AM   #7
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Well I have attached a few photo's of what I meant. I hope they are okay and I hope someone can explain how to get as much of the picture correctly exposed to show the blue sky and the other features.
Attached Images
View Picture EXIF
PENTAX K20D  Photo 
View Picture EXIF
PENTAX K20D  Photo 
View Picture EXIF
PENTAX K20D  Photo 
View Picture EXIF
PENTAX K20D  Photo 
01-27-2010, 11:16 AM   #8
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In lighting conditions like that, the only way to do what you want to do is to make multiple exposures (1 for highlights, 1 for shadows and 1 for midtones) then combine them).
You could also look at ND (Neutral Density) Filters which are graduated dark to clear. The dark area is for the bright sky allowing you to take a longer exposure to get more detail in the darker areas. These tend to work best (for obvious reasons) when you have a straight horizon though.

01-27-2010, 11:58 AM   #9
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You should try the above advises whenever possible because it is always better to get it right out of the camera.
However, if you can't go back to shoot them, then post processing is an option.

Here is an quick example of what can be done with post processing to recover the shadow details from photo like this that has a too wide dynamic range for the camera to capture and display the way you expected in a single shot. Too wide a dynamic range simply means there is too much difference between the brightest/whitest part of the scene and the darkest part. I just used Photoshop's highlight/shadow recovery function and a few selective brightening/darkening to create the attached version. Still not great, but better. I select this one to edit because there is minimal blown highlights in this one. Blown highlights are white area in your photo that should not be white. Area like these are usually not possible to recover the details from. It is possible to recover more details from darker areas.

I know you might not be comfortable with spending more money to get this type of post processing software and also having to learn how to use them. But at least with digital, you have this additional option.

The second attached example was created using a free program called "faststone" that can be used to do some limited exposure and color manipulations. You can not selectively change a specific part of the photo with this program. All changes apply to the whole photo. But it is easy to use and is good enough for minor enchancements.

Both of them were edited versions of sample #3.
Attached Images
View Picture EXIF
PENTAX K20D  Photo 
View Picture EXIF
PENTAX K20D  Photo 
01-27-2010, 02:47 PM   #10
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Thank you so much. I have GIMP at the moment but thinking of getting Photoshop. As I am an amateur what version of Photoshop would be best to get? Does anyone have a tutorial that would explain how to combine multiple exposures in GIMP?
01-27-2010, 06:01 PM   #11
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I don't have Lightroom so I can't really comment on that. Maybe someone who uses it will comment. It does appear LR users seem to like it.
01-27-2010, 10:15 PM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by ma318 Quote
You should try the above advises whenever possible because it is always better to get it right out of the camera.
Well said and a very crucial point.

Post Processing is an enhancement tool and shouldn't become a crutch. With film photography there was always much more incentive to get it right in camera.
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