View Full Version : An idea for a photo, but no idea how to capture it.

22-09-2011, 10:14pm
Unfortunately, since I bought the new camera it's been horridly smokey/smoggy around town, which hasn't been ideal for many of the shots I'd have liked to try. Visibility has been stupidly bad (trees at the end of the street are already fading into the haze).

However, we are surrounded here by lots of mountain ranges, and in some places, with the current hazy conditions, you often get areas where you can see up to 5 different mountain ranges showing up in basically just various levels of grey, which kind of looks pretty cool in in a sort of a way.

I'd kind of like to try and capture this, but am not sure if Morning sun facing the mountains, or evening sun behind the mountains, or some other option would do it the most justice, nor to really know how to go about capturing it. I'm hoping to get at least one of the closest hills to have some level of detail, but it's been so stupidly hazy that even the closest ones are going to be hazed out a bit. Which made me think that really early morning might also be the clearest for at least something to have some detail.
It's not likely to be a really amazing photo, but the layers of grey look pretty impressive to the eye when you see it off in the distance while driving around, and hell, I'll point a camera at just about anything for the next little while as I learn how to use it, so even if it's a total flop, as long as I learn something while trying it, it then I guess it's worthwhile.

So any tips, ideas, recommendations, or examples would be fantastic.

22-09-2011, 11:11pm
I am not expert in the best light for a layers landscapes so all I can suggest is that you could start with the time of day that you first saw the layers effect. Then experiment with other times.

With this type of shot you will need to get maximum Depth Of Field (DOF) so I would suggest you try an Aperture of f16 to start with.
You will also want as little noise as possible so use a low ISO setting. I suggest ISO 100
To get maximum sharpness I suggest you use a tripod.

So, now you can: Set the camera on a tripod, select Aperture Priority mode set the lens to f16 and the ISO to 100.

This will give you a reasonably good shot to start with but, you can do better.

The following may be a little confusing but the results should be worth it. You could try a High Dynamic Range (HDR) photographic effect.
Basically what this means is that you take more that 1 shot, ie: try 3 shots at different exposure levels and then combine them in Post Processing to make 1 photo with a wide range of tonal values (levels of colour). This will give you the maximum levels of color in your resulting photo.

Here is how to take the shots which will be combined into one image.

Set your camera on a tripod. This will allow you to take 3 shots with the exact same framing (composure) and will assist in keeping the shots sharp.
Set your ISO to 100. (keeps noise low)
Set your lens on f16. (maximizes DOF)
Set your Camera to "Manual Mode"

Shot 1 - Normal exposure - adjust the shutter speed for correct exposure (center dot of scale in bottom of viewfinder indicated) and take a shot.
This shot will look normal.
Shot 2 - Normal exposure -2 f stops - adjust the shutter speed for 2 stops below correct exposure (dot which is - 2 from center dot is indicated) and take a shot. This shot will look underexposed. (dark)
Shot 3 - Normal exposure +2 f stops - adjust the shutter speed for 2 stops above correct exposure (dot which is + 2 from center dot is indicated) and take a shot. This shot will look overexposed. ( Too light)

Now load these last 3 shots into your PP software and combine them to create a single image with a High Dynamic Range.

Good luck and I hope you get good results.

23-09-2011, 9:03am
Thanks for that Darey,
I love HDR pictures, because they often do a better job of representing what the eye sees, because as you look across a scene your eye is constantly adjusting aperture etc to compensate to the changing lighting in the different parts of the scene, whereas a single photo is generally set up for just one aspect of the lighting, so rarely seems to do that properly.
I don't have any HDR software at the moment. I have only photostudio 5.5 which was a freebie with my scanner at some stage. So not sure I'll be able to create an HDR version. The low ISO is a good tip, and I'd definitely use a tripod.
Will give it a go during the day today if the effect is still visible.

Mark L
23-09-2011, 9:38pm
Just take a lot of photos at different times of the day and see what works. Early morning sounds good, but I'm not seeing what you are.
You should consider using live view, so the shutter is locked up, and use a cable release or 2 second self timer. This should help stop any camera shake.

24-09-2011, 2:24am
Well, I kind of got caught off guard.
It was so windy today, that as I drove around, I saw little evidence of the effect I'd wanted to capture, and believed the wind must have cleared too much of the haze. So this evening I went totally unprepared when I took the camera for a walk to the top of the hill behind my house. As luck would have it, when I got to the top, there was enough of the effect to make me really regret not going better prepared. No tripod, no printed instructions from here, and worst was that it was actually TOO hazy.

I've put the only half way decent attempt up at EDIT: new link HERE (http://www.ausphotography.net.au/forum/showthread.php?92166-A-walk-behind-the-house-this-evening) This thread in the cc section [/url] where you can see what I was trying to describe. Some haze is necessary, but today was way too hazy (and I was shooting towards the sun this evening, so hoping to find a morning soon to go try again).

Mark L
24-09-2011, 9:52pm
Ezookiel, the link doesn't work, and for the life of me I can't find the thread you've linked to.:confused013

24-09-2011, 10:31pm
Hmm. Worked for me just then.
But here is the link ... and if this one doesn't work, it's under sundries, under nature, under CC, and called a walk behind the house or some such thing.

24-09-2011, 10:32pm
Thanks arthurking83 for fixing my link for me.

24-09-2011, 10:50pm
Zoom in a tad f/16 is not necessary and try not to shoot too directly towards the sun. The sample image does seem to have the sun towards the LHS of the frame and in that example the loss of contrast wasn't significant.

if you're going to use a shorter focal length, then f/16 is probably overkill for a deep DOF, because with this type of scene, you are generally shooting at close to infinity anyhow, so there's is no real chance of capturing any greater DOF than from infinity to infinity. The reality is that if you choose a wider FOV and hence shorter focal length, then the aperture setting could be just about any value you want as long as it's subsequently allowing you an appropriate shutter speed!

IF you decide to concentrate on the patterns in the receding mountains, then a smaller aperture may then help, even tho you are still focusing at close to infinity! The longer focal length requires a smaller aperture setting to capture a similar amount of DOF as you will get achieve if you've used a shorter focal length.
As an example, say you decided to use 70mm for the shot, then f/5.6 focused at infinity will suffice for a good DOF as long as you have focus set to near infinity. But if you zoom in to 200mm, then this f/5.6 value may no longer give you the same illusion of DOF. Some parts of the scene may appear to be more blurry. Stop down a little if you choose a longer focal length.

I personally haven't concentrated much on this style of landscape photography, even tho I have captured a (very) few .. maybe 3 or 4 shots in total?? Never been in the right place at the right time I guess!
Fro maximum contrast, always shoot with the light. That is, if the sun is behind you early morning, then this is the time do attempt the shot. For maximum 'hazy effect', you want to shoot against the light, but only because shooting into the light with just about any and every lens will result in lower contrast in the resulting scene. But you have to be mindful of getting a washed out effect too, so this attempt will take the most effort to get right. You could try it with the sun higher up in the sky and technically the best time of day for capturing haze is when the sun is at it's highest.
(atmospheric) Haze is generally a result of UV light bouncing off airborne particles, and the UV index is highest at about noon or thereabouts. Colours will be somewhat harsh tho and a bit blue, but that doesn't necessarily imply a bad capture.

..... and hell, I'll point a camera at just about anything for the next little while as I learn how to use it, so even if it's a total flop, as long as I learn something while trying it, it then I guess it's worthwhile.

I think this is the important point in the post.
You seem to be willing to try to achieve something, even if this means failure(to achieve the goal), and from that is how (I believe) that you will best learn to achieve your aim.
That's how many of us do it, and that's also probably why a lot of us have not only learned something of value(photographically speaking of course) in the process, but then use some of that experience for other applications of photography. eg, don't shoot directly into the sun, but if you do, choose your lens wisely, and make sure you have no filters attached and be sure to look for telltale flare that can ruin an image and ... etc, etc.

hope this helps in some way.