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11-17-2007, 12:11 PM   #1
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Took my new K10d for it's first stroll...

And I have some questions on how to improve image quality.

It was cloudy and pretty crappy out this morning when I was shooting. I thought, though, that I'd be able to work around it.

Let's preface the entire conversation by saying up front that I know next to nothing about photography, but I've read some of the "Ultimate Exposure Computer" and I do understand the relationship between ISO, Aperture, and Lens Speed, so I have the basics figured out.

I think I made a mistake by biting off too much and setting the k10 in manual mode, and setting my ISO at 200. I just arbitrarily chose that value, maybe it was a bad idea in the lighting conditions I was under. If I had a do-over I'd have set it to TAv just to simplify things on myself.

With that said, it seemed like the biggest problem I faced was an issue of contrast? (I'm not sure if it really is contrast), where I would lose detail (all detail) at the tops of trees against the greyish bright sky. Here is an example photo to show you what I mean, first of the scaled down full scene, then with a 100% crop of the treeline.

(EDIT: They're now attached and should show up at the bottom of the post... I tried to link to them from another website, and apparently that didn't work, even though I could see them on my screen (?)... thanks for the heads up Peter Zack)

Here's the information from the Pentax Photo Viewer for my camera settings:
(Is there a way to copy paste this stuff? I can't seem to figure out how to...)

Lens: Kit lens
Focal Length 28.0mm
Shutter speed: 1/125sec
Aperture: F5.6
Capture mode: Manual
Metering: Multi-segment
White balance: Neutral white fluorescent (I know this wasn't helping... I had accidentally left it on this setting from shooting indoors last night)
Sensitivity: 200


Any ideas on what could be done to fix this sort of situation?

I tried adjusting the Aperture and Shutter Speed, went up and down in both directions and didn't seem to have much luck with that. Did I need to adjust the ISO? Did I need to adjust the metering? The White balance?

I'm going to encounter a lot of shots like this- I love nature and horizon shots contrasting sky and trees- so I would like to figure out how to get these right.

Any information is most appreciated! Thank you!!!

(Oh, and I did get some shots right- I can do the close up stuff pretty well, and I love playing with depth of field!!)

Best Regards,

-Tim

Attached Images
View Picture EXIF
PENTAX K10D  Photo 
View Picture EXIF
PENTAX K10D  Photo 

Last edited by Hannican; 11-17-2007 at 12:36 PM. Reason: Trying to get images to appear
11-17-2007, 12:23 PM   #2
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I've tried to view your images but explorer can't find them. You need to open the post again, go to "Go advanced" and click 'manage attachments" at the bottom of the page, then upload the images in the pop up box that shows up. make sure they are small enough to upload.
11-17-2007, 12:37 PM   #3
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I tried to fix it... are they showing up for you now Peter? Thank you for the info!
11-17-2007, 01:37 PM   #4
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Well this is totally overexposed. The image has to be much darker, then the sky will not be blanked out, and the branches will not be lost. Generally you should prefer to underexpose an image then to overexpose it, because shadows can be easily tweaked into normal lighting in RAW converter or Photoshop, while blaned out sky is a total loss of all details, and is unrecoverable.
Hope that helped ^^

11-17-2007, 04:34 PM   #5
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Thank you Snowcat

I thought I had read before that it was better to do the histogram to the right (I forget the exact words used), which sounded to me like erring on the side of over-exposure...

I think the biggest problem I am having is trying to gauge how the photo really looks from peeking at the little LCD screen- they aren't looking the same on the computer monitor (i.e. when I shoot a normally lighted photo- it looks EXTREMELY dark on the LCD screen...).

I forgot that I would have to account for the washed out look of the LCD screen under normal daylight conditions, so like you said, I was overexposing everything- based on the appearance of the LCD screen.

I'm going to try again and post up some more. Or see if I can find some other examples of issues I ran into...
11-17-2007, 04:42 PM   #6
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And why not to use auto exposure mode? It is usually quite accurate outdoors. Good luck with more pictures!
11-17-2007, 04:56 PM   #7
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Well I chose the K10 because I wanted to be able to have full control over the images- I want to be able to do some creative things with lighting and motion and etc. To do that I need one of the manual type modes.

But I need to figure out how to first get an accurate, well-exposed photo in manual modes before I can start applying the creative touches that I want to focus on... so I'm practicing right now to try and learn more about the dynamics of photography and figure out the basics before I ramp up my game.

I figure the only way to do that is to just get out there and shoot in manual and try different things... I had quite a fit shots turn out pretty decently today, but of course, I don't have questions about those shots!

Anyway, that's a little bit behind my philosophy and why I'm trying to figure it out.

Thanks for your help and suggestions!
11-17-2007, 05:58 PM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by Hannican Quote
I thought I had read before that it was better to do the histogram to the right (I forget the exact words used), which sounded to me like erring on the side of over-exposure...
The important part of this that seems to get lost very often is expose to the right except don't overexpose any important highlights. Blown highlights are the hardest thing to recover, and look worse in digital than lost detail in shadow areas. The "expose to the right" mantra is easy to remember, but don't forget the last part, which is in general more important.

11-17-2007, 11:21 PM   #9
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Ahhh, I see

So just a LITTLE bit of overexposure...

I'll have to figure out how to walk that tight line. I'm going to do an early morning walk tomorrow and I'll post a few of the results to see if I've improved my technique (which shouldn't be hard to do...).

I'll keep it in full manual since I think that's what I want to learn how to control anyway

Thank you for the helpful advice again Snowcat and Matt
11-17-2007, 11:56 PM   #10
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Interesting that you want to keep it in full manual when many Pros keep it in Hyper-Program. Albeit, it's your choice.

From the Magic Lantern Guide: The manual exposure technique is not quick or easy to use. Frankly, you can generally achieve exactly the same result with less complexity by using semi-automatic modes and EV compensation. Those modes allow you to select an aperture (f/stop) and/or shutter speed; the camera will maintain the same exposure as you change settings. When you want to make a darker or brighter image, set some minus or plus EV compensation. Unless you are proficient in manual exposure control, you may want to experiment extensively with Hyper-manual mode before relying on it for important images.

So, there you have it... from one of the experts. As for your white balance being screwed up by forgetting to reset it from Neutral white fluorescent, that's something you'll have to remedy in your shooting. Burian recommends the following to help those of us who tend to forget about ISO and so forth:

"I recommend setting this valuable custom function (Auto EV Compensation) found in the Custom Setting. It is designed to simply prevent exposure problems caused by user error: making totally inappropriate f/stop, aperture, or ISO settings in certain conditions." (in other words... turn it to the ON position rather than leaving it Off which is the default)

All the best.
11-18-2007, 06:35 AM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by JamesD Quote
Interesting that you want to keep it in full manual when many Pros keep it in Hyper-Program. Albeit, it's your choice.
Here we go with the "pro" obsession again. How many artists working with paint make a big deal about the techniques of professional painters?

There's certainly some overlap (for example, everyone can do with reliable equipment), but this is a perfect example of the difference. A professional may use the mode which provides the quickest results, but that doesn't mean that should be the top priority for everyone.

QuoteQuote:
From the Magic Lantern Guide: The manual exposure technique is not quick or easy to use.
Again, the Magic Lantern Guide is clearly speaking to a specific audience. (Not professionals in this case, but also not likely someone who wants to use manual mode.)

QuoteQuote:
Frankly, you can generally achieve exactly the same result with less complexity by using semi-automatic modes and EV compensation.
You may end up with the same exposure, but actually I don't think you'll end up with the same result, just like there's a difference between taking the train somewhere and walking there.

QuoteQuote:
"I recommend setting this valuable custom function (Auto EV Compensation) found in the Custom Setting. It is designed to simply prevent exposure problems caused by user error: making totally inappropriate f/stop, aperture, or ISO settings in certain conditions." (in other words... turn it to the ON position rather than leaving it Off which is the default)
This is like setting your spell-checker to always correct errors itself without alerting you -- you may end up with mostly-correct spellings in your documents, but you'll never learn to spell. And when you want to write "tyger" for artistic reasons, you'll not be able to. So I recommend exactly the opposite, unless you want to use your dSLR like a point & shoot -- which doesn't sound like the case here.
11-18-2007, 08:10 AM   #12
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This is a very tough scene to shoot right but there are solutions and you can use the shooting mode that you want. Manual shooting is a good approach for many scenes and a good thing to learn. Many scenes can simply be shot better in manual mode.

One of the things I'd recommend is use the camera spot metering mode as often as possible. Spot meter the subject you want to be properly exposed. Then hit the AE-L button to lock the exposure and compose the shot. You will get much more accurate results. In a shot like these above you will not be able to get the sky and foreground properly exposed in the same shot.

But there are ways around it. You can get a neutral density filter (graduated) that you can use to balance the exposure. It will darken the top sky portion and expose the foreground normally.

You can also expose for the sky and under expose the scene but recover them in software that will bring out the shadowed areas. You can also use the multi exposure mode to shoot for the highlights and the shadowed areas in the same scene. The camera will 'overlay' several frames on one shot and adjust the exposure to balance the shot. So in each exposure you can expose different parts of the picture. (see page 166). So you might set the camera up for 3 exposures of the shot and under expose the first frame, neutral for the second and over exposed for the 3rd. That has often worked to get all aspects of the shot properly exposed. Also consider bracketing some shots. That way the camera makes 3 or 5 shots of the same scene and over or under exposes the scene in each shot. You can review the 3 or 5 shots to choose which one works best.

Last you could try HDR processing. This allows you to take the bracketed shots above and combine them. So you have a frame with a properly exposed sky and a neutral shot and a prperly exposed foreground. When combined you get the best of both exposures. It can also be done with one frame and get some fairly decent results as well. Check this thread out:

https://www.pentaxforums.com/forums/everything-else/12140-i-like-process-reco...tures-hdr.html

The issue s that there is no sensor that can adapt to a scene like our eyes can. We can adjust for the various exposure levels in a given scene better than any sensor developed to date and the type of scene you chose here is tough to get right, directly out of the camera. The cloudy overcast but bright sky is so much hotter than the foreground that something is not going to be correctly exposed as there is too much variation in the scene. If the sky was blue, even in the middle of the day will be easier to shoot correctly unless you shoot straight into the sun.
11-18-2007, 08:34 AM   #13
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Hi Tim (Hannican)

Whilst agreeing with most of the excellent advice other people have already given you, why not take full advantage of the Histogram facility cleverly built into the K10D when trying to familiarise yourself with the practical application of manual exposure ? Regardless of whatever mode you've chosen, it will instantaneously give you a very precise indication of whether your shot is either moderately or severely over/under-exposed, enabling you to manually apply the necessary correction.
Not so long ago in the days when film was the only means of capturing a photograph, I EXCLUSIVELY employed the manual exposure mode and came to rely solely upon the medium of Fujichrome ISO400 transparency when taking internal architectural photographs. Perspective Control/Shift lenses only operate manually, due to the nature of their construction and I NEVER ONCE used the internal metering system in either my Mamiya medium-format camera or Olympus OMI 35mm bodies.
With the purchase of Minolta's expensive but accurate 'Spotmeter F' light-meter, over the years I became so familiar with any given lighting situation that I could instantly assess what the correct exposure would be within a fairly small margin.
Many processes which took so long to perfect manually have become fully automated nowadays and are accepted as commonplace. However those acquired skills are still invaluable when assessing problematic lighting situations which automatic exposure systems still have difficulty coping with. The expression about " teaching an old dog new tricks" springs to mind !

Best regards
Richard
11-18-2007, 09:23 AM   #14
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Thank you Confused, you reminded me of my next question...

When I have a histogram that is displaying huge peaks on both the left AND right hand side, what is the best way to address that? What does that even mean?

The follow shots are an example of this exact problem, which I've faced a couple of times now. I can't get any COLOR to come out of the image. There MUST be a way to do this, otherwise this camera could not have cost over $500... right?

The shots are attached to this post.

Questions:

What should I have done to try and brighten things up a bit, without overexposing?
Would using a higher ISO be a good way to attack this?

The histogram has a huge spike on the far left hand side, and another big one just right of center.

Frankly, I have no idea how to address that kind of a histogram... spikes in the high and low, and nothing in the mid-range... is there anything that can be done? Or do I need to recompose the shot?

Thank you in advance for your input everyone!

---

Shot Stats

Kit Lens
18.0mm
1/350sec
F4.5
Multi-segment metering
ISO 200
(For some reason the other details weren't recorded in Pentax Image Viewer... even the lens didn't show up.... this doesn't appear to have happened with the other shots I took today so I'm a little confused about that)
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PENTAX K10D  Photo 
11-18-2007, 10:13 AM   #15
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Hi again Tim (Hannican)

The temptation of replying to your statement was simply too strong to resist after you said:

QuoteQuote:
I have a histogram that is displaying huge peaks on both the left AND right hand side
That usually indicates one of two things:

a) Someone's secretly been feeding you Oestrogen in your morning coffee !!! Oh no, I forgot, that's a Mamogram.....

b) You've unexpectedly arrived without realising you're in the Swiss Alps !!!........lol

You will find some interesting reading matter which specifically deals with histograms here:

Understanding Histograms

Best regards
Richard

Quote from article:
"Set your camera to display a combined thumbnail and histogram for 5-10 seconds after every frame. Get in the habit of glancing at it. It's the greatest invention since the built-in light meter".

Last edited by Confused; 11-18-2007 at 03:47 PM.
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