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07-11-2010, 02:14 PM   #1
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Problems with camera exposure!

Can anyone help on why I'm getting bad exposure? Currently, I've been shooting on Program, and this last roll from this weekend's hike, I noticed that the sky just looks like crap. I've always had a little bit of issues with the white clouds on a blue sky seeming to be overexposed, but this is ridiculous.

I just hope nothing is wrong with my camera, K100D Super, as it accidentally rolled down a hill inside the camera bag a 2 weeks ago. It's a good case, and there seemed to be no damage, but now I'm starting to wonder. And the pics I took just last weekend (one week after the accident) seemed to be alright. But these pics from this weekend below are much worse. On the other hand, maybe this is an easy fix by making an adjustment or two. Any help would be appreciated.

I've attached a few photos for examples.

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07-11-2010, 02:23 PM   #2
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This type of scene is tricky for a camera's meter. Do you want to expose for the sky or do you want to expose for the land? You can't have both. You can use a graduated ND filter, or you can do a bracketed exposure shot and blend in PP.
07-11-2010, 02:24 PM   #3
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From what I see on my sceen, I'd say this is what I'd expect. You have a situation where the sky is a heavy backlight to the mountains. From what I can tell, you are shooting toward the sun or near to it (looking at the lens flare). The camera has a center weighted meter and with the center point it averaged a meter reading for the foreground mountains, not the sky. Had you tilted the camera up and used that meter reading off the sky to set the aperture and shutter speeds, the mountains would have been near, if not totally black and the sky would have been better exposed. Your complaint would be the opposite. Why is the sky so nice and the mountains black?

The dynamic range of this type of scene is near impossible to balance for any camera whether it be film or digital.
07-11-2010, 03:01 PM   #4
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As the others have said, the problem is having something very bright and something quite dark in the frame. The options with one frame are to expose for one, expose for the other, or change the amount of light from one (say, waiting for sunshine on the land, or using graduated neutral-density filters). As pointed out earlier, you can also use multiple frames if you so choose.

07-11-2010, 04:11 PM   #5
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Exposure is dead on. Too much contrast for the sensor. Same problem with film. Welcome to the real world!
You can try to underexpose by a stop or so and later adjust the foreground in Photoshop. This may bring out more details in the sky...

BTW Nice mountains in Colorado. They seem so easy to walk in.....

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07-11-2010, 05:17 PM   #6
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You stripped out the EXIF info before posting so we can't tell what metering mode was used or whether exposure compensation was dialed in. Would be better if you could repost with EXIF intact. But while I agree these types of scene are henerally impossible to shoot how you'd like them to come, the K100D in default settings would normally expose to preserve the sky, resulting in a very underexpose foreground. So I'm guess you have the metering mode or exposure compentation moved from the default.
07-11-2010, 08:49 PM   #7
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Thanks for the replies. This camera usually does pretty good in these situations, but these last 2 rolls I've had lots of overexposure, and I'm worried that the camera accident might have jacked it up.

This pic below should have the data attached to it. The sky behind the mountains is actually a storm that was barrelling in on me. But do you see the white blob in the middle, then it seems to fade away in bands? I've never seen it that bad. It reminds me of the crappy pictures my camcorder used to take.

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07-11-2010, 08:56 PM   #8
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Whatever, his exposure is pretty accurate, I'd prefer about a third stop less, myself.
Pritch, your scenes are too long range for the sensor. With film we used graduated neutral density filters and the like to tame this sort of thing.
However, this is exactly the sort of scene that HDR can tame, so I'd research the technique and explore the possibilities inherent in that type of image editing.
Here is an example for you. This is two exposures, the mushroom and surrounding area are from an exposure at least 1 stop more than the rest of the image.
In this case, I didn't use Photoshop's HDR, I just did a layer blend.

A Picture

07-11-2010, 09:14 PM   #9
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The big spot toward top right looks like lens flare. Settings seems normal, so I'm surprised the exposure is as bright as it is, but probably better at this point would be to perform tests in other settings.

Note I'm not sayingI think these are *bad* exposures - as others have mentioned, it's tough to capture such wide dynamic range. But multi-segment metering doesn't normally allow so many blown highlights. Unless, hmm, maybe if you have the optin set to link AE to AF point?
07-13-2010, 06:33 PM   #10
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Besides the ND filter suggestion, are there any strategies/settings that will maybe mix the exposure of the bright sky and darker foreground, to come to a happy medium?

Sometimes those same pictures turn out fine, where I get good cloud definition and relatively decent foreground. But sometimes they turn out poorly, like the ones I posted. Not sure what I'm doing wrong.
07-13-2010, 07:08 PM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by Pritch Quote
Thanks for the replies. This camera usually does pretty good in these situations, but these last 2 rolls I've had lots of overexposure, and I'm worried that the camera accident might have jacked it up.

This pic below should have the data attached to it. The sky behind the mountains is actually a storm that was barrelling in on me. But do you see the white blob in the middle, then it seems to fade away in bands? I've never seen it that bad. It reminds me of the crappy pictures my camcorder used to take.

Attachment 66120
Are you 100% sure you aren't seeing those bands due to having your computer set to 16 or 24bit colour instead of 32bit?

The only way on this LCD that I can see a white blob with fading bands vs a smooth transition is if I set the colour to 16bit.
07-13-2010, 07:37 PM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by Pritch Quote
Besides the ND filter suggestion, are there any strategies/settings that will maybe mix the exposure of the bright sky and darker foreground, to come to a happy medium?


See post #8 of this thread.
07-13-2010, 08:15 PM   #13
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3 ways to overcome this kind of scenery.

1. keep the sky out
2. use hdr software
3. use a graduated filter or pp in photoshop/lightroom
07-13-2010, 08:40 PM   #14
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If you shot RAW, and at low ISO, there's still a fair bit you can do to pull up the darker areas and pull back the overexposed sky.
I dare say you can still end up with a pretty decent shot.

The white blob in your last photo is likely lens flare. Not easy to fix that one, I'm afraid,
07-13-2010, 08:44 PM - 1 Like   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by Pritch Quote
Besides the ND filter suggestion, are there any strategies/settings that will maybe mix the exposure of the bright sky and darker foreground, to come to a happy medium?

Sometimes those same pictures turn out fine, where I get good cloud definition and relatively decent foreground. But sometimes they turn out poorly, like the ones I posted. Not sure what I'm doing wrong.
The exposure is consistent to how the camera meter works - it exposes for medium gray, it doesn't have an idea how things shoud "look" like.
The mountain and the rocks are darker than medium gray in real life, so -1/2 step exposure correction had to be added.
On top of that the sky is too bright - this is not normal blue sky, but heavy overcast, white sky. The sky gets overexposed.

One should learn to evaluate the scene and dial exposure compensation to help the camera meter. If the scene is darker than middle gray, put negative compensation, if it's lighter than med. gray, add exposure comp.

Try shooting RAW - the raw converters can extract some more highlights that the in-camera jpeg engine.
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