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Old 04-10-2014, 05:09 PM   #901
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So I have a situation where, in the same frame, I have very bright light and very dark objects (say I am in the woods. It's very dark under the tree canopy, but bright sun light punches through here and there) . What can I do to make the shot more evenly lit? I tried HDR but I am not happy with the results. It looks too surreal but maybe I did it wrong. I took seven shots at one stop intervals from -3 to +3 and combined them with Photomatix. I also played with highlights and shadow brushes in Aperture, the result is more realistic but it is very time consuming. Anything else I can try?

Generally, I expose for highlights to make sure I have detail there; then work developing the shadow details in post production. Other option is to open up the dark areas with a very mild flash - a kiss of light. Flash needs to be positioned so any shadows fall the same direction as natural shadows. Sometimes we just have to accept compromise. I prefer to accept more dark areas to achieve well detailed light areas.
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Old 04-10-2014, 05:24 PM   #902
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I tried HDR but I am not happy with the results. It looks too surreal but maybe I did it wrong. I took seven shots at one stop intervals from -3 to +3 and combined them with Photomatix.
I find photomatix somewhat confusing as there are multiple modes each with their own set of parameters (3 methods under tone mapping and a bunch more under exposure fusion). It doesn't help that the default values usually give horrendous looking images. What I try to do is get a "flat" image out of photomatix with no highlight/shadow clipping and then adjust in lightroom.

Another option might be to use the HDR function in Photoshop to create a 32bit file and then use lightroom for tone mapping (you can use all the same adjustments with the 32 bit file). I think it's easier to get "natural" looking images in this process.
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Old 04-10-2014, 05:31 PM   #903
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In that particular image, I think that the blown-out highlights are distracting. Dark areas can be brightened reasonably well but no amount of processing seems to be able to correct blown-out highlights. With that in mind, I have been underexposing that kind of shots by one stop. Better but still not great. The flash idea though will come in handy when I photograph interiors with a window in the background.

Bingo! ( on the inability to correct blown out highlights...)
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Old 04-10-2014, 05:36 PM   #904
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Not a nice composition, but:

Original:

ImageUploadedByEarly Retirement Forum1397169219.354487.jpg

Histogram, crop and saturation tweak:

ImageUploadedByEarly Retirement Forum1397169237.586394.jpg

Plus, lightening the shadows:

ImageUploadedByEarly Retirement Forum1397169278.024462.jpg

The details exist in the shadows - they just need to be brought out.

Everything is done on an iPad with Photogene.

Hmmm - need to brighten the highlights to make it pop..

It's OK to have dark areas with no detail, imo
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Old 04-10-2014, 05:52 PM   #905
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Generally, I expose for highlights to make sure I have detail there; then work developing the shadow details in post production. Other option is to open up the dark areas with a very mild flash - a kiss of light. Flash needs to be positioned so any shadows fall the same direction as natural shadows. Sometimes we just have to accept compromise. I prefer to accept more dark areas to achieve well detailed light areas.
i find the 3 color channel histograms a very important part of getting the right range of exposure.

i find the one mixed channel histogram on the lower end cameras useless. it is weighted for blue so reds blow out at the drop of a hat and it will not show.

i expose all 3 channels as far right as i can. in audio we call that maximum signal to noise.

i shoot raw and i keep in camera contrast and saturation low so the histograms are not fooled by it since the histograms are based on you shooting jpeg . the raw image actually has more range then the histogram shows.
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Old 04-10-2014, 07:06 PM   #906
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So imagine in the future - the computer camera tracks your retina, and adjusts the lighting/focus of the area you are looking at? Peer in to the dark inside of the barn, and your eyes seem to adjust to the light, just like in real life? Seems possible.

-ERD50
Wow. That hurt my brain, in a good way. Eye tracking exists, Lytro has the after-the-fact focus change technology, and lighting would be real time EV adjustment. Such photos would be both cool and creepy - and keep pot smokers occupied for hours.

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As an example, I think most casual photographers are often disappointed to see something distracting in the background of a shot they took, when they thought they had a great shot of the item they were looking at. Their brain focused on the point of interest, and ignored the stuff in the background - until you see it 'frozen' in time, then it becomes glaringly obvious.
That's a good thing, because photobombing wouldn't be possible without it. This Is Photobomb - Surprise! Ruined Photos - photobomb that guy - Cheezburger
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Old 04-10-2014, 07:12 PM   #907
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... What can I do to make the shot more evenly lit? I tried HDR but I am not happy with the results. It looks too surreal but maybe I did it wrong. I took seven shots at one stop intervals from -3 to +3 and combined them with Photomatix. I also played with highlights and shadow brushes in Aperture, the result is more realistic but it is very time consuming. Anything else I can try?
I combine shots using 'luminosity masks'. That's the generic term, don't know what it's called in Aperture. Usually 1 mask has only the highlights, 1 has the darkest areas and 1 has everything else. Time consuming, yes, but the end results match what I see in my mind's eye, more or less.
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Old 04-10-2014, 08:02 PM   #908
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i find the 3 color channel histograms a very important part of getting the right range of exposure.

i find the one mixed channel histogram on the lower end cameras useless. it is weighted for blue so reds blow out at the drop of a hat and it will not show.

i expose all 3 channels as far right as i can. in audio we call that maximum signal to noise.

i shoot raw and i keep in camera contrast and saturation low so the histograms are not fooled by it since the histograms are based on you shooting jpeg . the raw image actually has more range then the histogram shows.

I don't allow the camera to modify anything, and I don't use histograms for exposure. I trust my eye, to acquire the detail I want in the 'positive'. Used to trust my spot meter lol. Still could, but no longer necessary with digital. In postproduction, I only use the mixed channel histogram to set boundaries for tone - color is not a consideration. Exposure is not about color - it's about capturing detail. IMO, color is the most overused and over relied on element of composition, to the extent so many photographers understand few other elements, though most will quote 'RoT'. Desaturated the image, make your crop and tonal adjustments in B&W, then bring the saturation back up and view the results. Use your eyes, not the software. Try it as an experiment.

With a few tweaks the image generally comes out to what I envisioned as I took the photo. I'm not a Luddite, but some times we can rely too much on technical indicators when creating art.

And my edits take about a minute to achieve.
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Old 04-11-2014, 03:49 AM   #909
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your eye is really not a good way with digital because your eye will expose for what it likes and what not is best in my opinion. digital is very different than film where your eye and rules of thumb is all you needed..

when i shoot by eye i leave way to much money on the table so to speak.

when i capture maximum signal which provides for the most noise free editing , things will look to bright and flat looking by eye.

when you edit brightning creates noise , making things darker after the fact creates no noise.

when we shoot by eye we tend to shoot much darker and since marilyn and i do a lot of raw editing the noise is always an issue.

we find getting maximum signal is very important in digital unlike film. most of the time we barely even look at the lcd photo. it all is done by histogram.
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Old 04-11-2014, 04:15 AM   #910
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i had written a tutorial for using a histogram for another forum so i figured what the heck ,i will post it here , if it helps anyone then it was worth me searching for it.
------------------------------------------------------------------------
if your like most beginners you more than likely look at the display on the back of the camera and look at the picture displayed .

you use that to judge the shot.

its fast its easy but its the worst way to do it.

good exposure isnt a setting ,its a range of exposures where your scene can comfortably reside.

if things get to bright you get whats called blow out. thats when you overloaded your cameras system and things end up having no features and details .

with reds they look like smooth tomato skins,with white they look like vanilla ice cream.


if things are to dark they are crushed and all you get is featureless black.

many sunset photos end up just being sillouettes because all detail in the shadows is lost.


a histogram is a display of all the actual pixels in the scene. you can see just where your exposure is falling out.

you want to keep things off the end walls. just about touching means whites will be close to white and blacks close to black as your cameras exposure system normally tries to average things out to middle gray.


just picking up your camera and letting the exposure system take over is a guarantee of two things.


blacks will be dark gray and anything white will be light gray. the other thing is on a bright sunny day your skies will blow out as the camera range is exceeded..


the single histogram on the lower end cameras is better than nothing but is usually useless for shooting macro if red flowers are present. .

the reason i say that is its weighted for blue and green and it will show all okay usually when shooting flowers with red but all is not okay. 9 out of 10 times tomato skins is what you get.

the 3 histograms are worth their weight in gold for a serious shooter. you can watch the red channel all alone for blow out. you will be amazed how dark you have to shoot to preserve reds. all the while that single histogram on the lower end cameras show things are fine by a wide margin. they are not.

capturing good detailed reds usually demands post processing later on to brighten the rest of the photo.


so how do we use it? ill continue on.
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Old 04-11-2014, 04:15 AM   #911
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look at the scene and see what colors are we dealling with.

if its mostley midtones you want most of the middle of the histogram in the center of the display.

if your shooting snow you should have all the pixels piled up on the right side without touching the wall.

a dark object will have most of the pixels of the left wall.

since many scenes contain a wide range i try to expose the scene as bright as i can without touching the right wall. in audio getting the highest signal level you can record is called signal to noise ratio. in photography i call it the same thing.

i want the maximum signal i can record as i have the most latitude for adjusting and processing later on.

going from to bright to darker in post processing creates no noise.

if you shot to dark and want to brighten that then creates noise. sometimes so bad that any effects or adjustments just magnify the noise.

brightning is like cranking up iso.

with a nice strong signal to noise recorded the display of the photo on the back of the camera can appear a little to bright and even washed out. colors dont pop. this is why its bad to judge photos only by display and not histogram.

but add some contrast and turn down brightness in post processing and watch those colors spring to life.

i love vibrant alive colors (as if you didnt know that already seeing my stuff)

and good exposure range lets you do anything you like and any mood that you want to convey in post processing. with maximum signal your free to adjust and create to your hearts content.

noise will be most evident in the darker portion of your photos if your exposure was weak.

the post processing is just the extension of what your camera started but cant finish.

now what do we do on those days where that histogram bangs into the walls on either side and we cant fix it?

continued.
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Old 04-11-2014, 04:16 AM   #912
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bright sunny days and shadow detail dont go together well at all. dslrs dont have enough dynamic range to capture the entire scene .

those that talk about how they want to capture everything just like the scene are usually beginners who havent realized that dslr cameras CAN NOT capture a range of black to white anywhere near what your eye sees.

the first thing i do when the histogram is already wall to wall is think about whats important in the scene. if its a subject then i will blow out the sky if i have to and expose for the subject.


in post processing i can always make the sky pure white and it looks good .if its the other way round ill let the background crush and in post processing go with a black background if i have to and expose for my subject.

going to spot or center weighted metering can help expose the subject or just turn exposure compensation up or down until the subjects color is exposed on the histogram where it hould be. whites to the right if they are the subject, blacks down at the left and midtones just to the left of the center of the histogram.

a well exposed subject can always have an ugly turqoise blown sky just changed to white in post processing and its just fine.


if the entire scene is important and its touching end to end then the other altrnatives are:

use flash to brighten the scene so the range is smaller or shoot in hdr.

hdr is when you take multiple exposures of different exposures and combine them in special software to encompass the entire scene. it can take me as many as 9 different exposures on some scenes 1 stop apart to take in and expose for what my eye is seeing.

sorry naturalists but there is just no way around it with a dslr. while full size sensor cameras are better they still lack the range needed on those bright days with dark detail.
ansel did it with large format film cameras and post processing techniques back in his day.

if you saw how washed out these looked on the lcd as shot you would be amazed at how they sprang to life . they looked flat and boring. but because we had maximum exposure they lent themselves to anything i wanted to do without getting noisy.









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Old 04-11-2014, 08:43 AM   #913
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your eye is really not a good way with digital because your eye will expose for what it likes and what not is best in my opinion. digital is very different than film where your eye and rules of thumb is all you needed..

when i shoot by eye i leave way to much money on the table so to speak.

when i capture maximum signal which provides for the most noise free editing , things will look to bright and flat looking by eye.

when you edit brightning creates noise , making things darker after the fact creates no noise.

when we shoot by eye we tend to shoot much darker and since marilyn and i do a lot of raw editing the noise is always an issue.

we find getting maximum signal is very important in digital unlike film. most of the time we barely even look at the lcd photo. it all is done by histogram.

Creating for the eye, IMO, is what art is all about; otherwise, it's merely documentation, not creation. I suspect we will continue to disagree. As well, a lot about art is individual taste. I used to do the histogram bit. Now I don't. Used to use the Zone 10 system, and still do, in a way. Digital is no different than film in that manner.

Very nice tutorial, btw, but I'm not convinced. You talk about looking at colors to determine the mid-tone - tone is a reference to gray scale, not to color, in exposure. The exposure doesn't care if if the image is color or B&W.

Very pretty photos, which segues into another now relevant topic: is 'pretty' art? Before one says yes, consider many of Rodin's sculptures.
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Old 04-11-2014, 08:57 AM   #914
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A serious question, not a crit: in that final flower image, is it possible to bring out the detail in the brightest petal, or is that detail washed out?
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Old 04-11-2014, 09:03 AM   #915
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Bright sunny days and shadow don't go together well? That is a matter opinion. It depends on what one is trying to achieve with an image, and what potential one can see in a situation. Take your barn image again. Leaving the interior black could affect the feeling the viewer gets: possibly one of curiosity or apprehension for what may be inside. I'll trust the human eye and brain to make those decisions. Light meters (histograms) provide info. But it's up to the brain to use that info to create - for example, do I want a high key or a low key shot? Modifying exposure will affect different aspects of the final image, which the photographer uses to influence the viewer.Even using a light meter and the zone system, one chose which zone to place a reading in, so as to affect the final outcome of the image. Same using a histogram, which is nothing more than another way to display info from a light meter. But if we have no desire to create, or influence a human's feelings, let's just program a computer to take our image for us.
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Old 04-11-2014, 09:29 AM   #916
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Generally bright sunny days and dark shadows mean loss of information unless the cameras range is not exceeded.

unless it is something you want to happen loss of information is rarely a good thing.

you can always darken something you feel has to much detail showing like the barn if you were so inclined but it is always better to have that option by at least having that information preserved if you can.
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Old 04-11-2014, 09:36 AM   #917
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Creating for the eye, IMO, is what art is all about; otherwise, it's merely documentation, not creation. I suspect we will continue to disagree. As well, a lot about art is individual taste. I used to do the histogram bit. Now I don't. Used to use the Zone 10 system, and still do, in a way. Digital is no different than film in that manner.

Very nice tutorial, btw, but I'm not convinced. You talk about looking at colors to determine the mid-tone - tone is a reference to gray scale, not to color, in exposure. The exposure doesn't care if if the image is color or B&W.

Very pretty photos, which segues into another now relevant topic: is 'pretty' art? Before one says yes, consider many of Rodin's sculptures.
the color channeled histograms are actually looking at color not just tone. that is why they are broken out in red green and blue channels.

I know if I am shooting a subject I look at the colors of the object to see where it should fall out.

midtone colors I want to the right of center, lighter tones I want more to the right, white I want just off the wall.

reds I will push 3/4's of the way to the right wall
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Old 04-11-2014, 09:36 AM   #918
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So...

There is a Zen garden nearby that I want to take a snap of this spring. I will post.

Prop me up, photogs!
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Old 04-11-2014, 10:03 AM   #919
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Geez I go away for a couple days and y'all go hog wild. Love that photo, Ronstar.

HDR is a nice tool to have in the bag. It can be misused like any tool, and when that happens the results are downright scary. It's not unusual for me to process a set of exposures into HDR and then decide a single exposure works better but when it works it works very well.

To suggest to someone that their eye is not a good tool as to gauging correct exposure I would suggest caution here. If one is accustomed to their camera and it's display relative to getting the results they want, then why the hell not is what I say
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Old 04-11-2014, 10:15 AM   #920
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why not lcd? apart from the brightness you have it at giving different results the reason is as I stated above, digital is very different from film . what you see on the lcd is not what you may end up with ,especially in dynamic range.

I would shoot darker by eye and the colors look so much better on the lcd , the exposure really looks fine.

but what is not fine is if you are going to use dodging and burning in spots, or use nik or topaz filter effects , noise may be an issue and usually is .

the histogram is letting you record a much greater signal to noise ratio by pushing more to the right which by eye looks washed out and not very pleasant.

you are also looking at a jpeg with in camera enhancements. if you are shooting raw you will not get that look unless you use proprietary software like Nikon capture nx2 that can read your internal settings.

no other software can read Nikon camera settings if you shoot raw.

same is likely true of the others . .
just my own opinion..
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