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Thread: Problem with shots on a very sunny day

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    Problem with shots on a very sunny day

    Hi All,

    I am new to photography now and starting to take more pictures on a tour mostly on a very sunny day.

    I am having problems with the outcome like shadows, over exposed background and dark faces, examples below.
    My gear is D90 with nikon 35mm f1.8 lens

    I usually shoot in A (aperture) mode and use f5 for people shots and currently not having any filter.
    Do you think by attaching a UV filter will help with decreasing the shadow, over exposed background and lighter face for people shots?
    Sometimes I got quite frustrated that I turned to Auto mode

    Thank you so much in advance. I will be having another trip to hamilton island in mid Jan and I am guessing the weather will be very very sunny.
    Attached Images Attached Images
    Nikon D90 + Nikkor 35mm f1.8

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    Old Dog learning new Tricks nixworries's Avatar
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    i would use a fill flash for the faces or a reflector and a polerising filter for the sky
    canon 5D mark III tamron 24-70 2.8 vc, 50mm 1.8, tamrom 70-200 2.8 vc, remote tripod
    perseverance

    Rob


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    okay, if you have a person in frame, and he/she is the main subject, you'll want to expose for their skin. Firstly though, you need to put your subject, if possible, into some open shade. The last thing you want is shadows or uneven lighting on the face/under eyes like you have in your first shot. as for overexposed backgrounds, that comes with the territory when you shoot digital I'm afraid. With B&W film, we expose for the shadows, but with digital, you need to expose for the highlights. This means to expose for the brightest object in your shot, that you want to retain detail in. Then the shadows will just fall where they fall. This can be corrected to a certain extent in post process. You can do more with blocked shadows than you can with blown highlights. The shots you posted don't appear to be too bad, and it appears as though you have used this technique (intentionally or not) in the second to last shot. But as you know, the main subject is overexposed. Here you need to make a choice as to what's more important, or the choice to do some post processing on the raw file to bring up the foreground, thus keeping the whole frame from blowing out. Your subject seems to be in even lighting in the second to last shot, so this could be adjusted in Lightroom or PS with the use of a layer mask/duplicate layer.

    There are filters you can use to tame bright backgrounds (ND graduated filter), but a UV filter is worst than useless for digital photography (unless you have a Leica M8 ).

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    nix, thank you for your suggestion. With fill in flash, do you mean a flash unit?

    tom, thank you for your detailed explanations. However, I am afraid I might have to ask you more cause I don't really understand some terms.
    "you need to expose for the highlights"
    What do you do when you want to expose something? I mean what should I change my camera setting to? the focus point?
    and what do you mean with highlights?

    Below is the worst picture of the day
    Attached Images Attached Images

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    Still in the Circle of Confusion Cage's Avatar
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    Other than what has already been said, to my eye all the shots other than #3 appear to be tilting to the right.

    Easily fixed in PP.
    Cheers
    Kev

    D800 & GAS

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    Okay, what you have there is veiling flare. Have you got a lens hood? If so use it. Shooting directed towards the sun can produce stunning results, but you become more susceptible to flare, especially if you shoot with zoom lenses. you shot above is a great example of an image that you would have done well to use an ND grad filter with (it's like putting sunglasses over the the bright part of the image, in this case from the horizon up).

    A highlight is the brightest part of the image that retains detail. A cloud may be a highlight in an image. If you blow the highlight, it means that you have exceeded the dynamic range of the camera with your chosen exposure, and you have lost detail in the cloud (pure white). Sometimes this is unavoidable, especially if your subject is in much darker light than the cloud. You then need to decide what is more important in the image; a well exposed subject, or an image without blown highlights which may be able to be fixed in the darkroom or on the computer. So sometimes it is a compromise. Landscapes can have a large dynamic range (range of luminance from dark to light), and ND graduated filters are often employed to narrow the dynamic range that the camera has to capture. Solid state capture doesn't have the ability to capture as much of that dynamic range as ag-x capture, in camera, and this is one of the compelling reasons why 80% of landscape photographers use film. But digital has the ability to make up some lost ground in software such as Lightroom or Photoshop, where editing a raw file, within reason, can be done without too much detriment to the final image. And you will get instant feedback on where you highlights and shadows are falling via one of the two methods outlined below.

    An exposure is the action of your camera making the photograph. It is exposing light to the digital sensor, through the lens. So to make a correct exposure, you need to establish what size aperture you want to use, and what shutter speed to use with your chosen ISO. There should be plenty of info here in the Beginner's section.

    On you camera, you should have the function for the camera to display blown highlights or blocked shadows. I have no idea what this display option would be, but when you review an image that you have just taken on the LCD, this function will tell your camera to flash parts of the image where you have lost detail. If you have a very bright section in your image, the screen may flash red over that section, and if you have really dark spots, it may flash blue.

    DSC_0792.jpg

    You probably want to avoid blown highlights (the red section) in most shots, and I can't think of any landscape image where blown highlights are welcome. So in the above shot, you can either go the filter route (preferred method), or expose for the highlights (in this case, underexpose your shot so you don't see any red flashing on your LCD) and bring the foreground up in Lightroom or similar. Your shot here is not fixable, as once you lose your highlights, they are gone for good. Blocked shadows don't look as bad (at least to me) as blown highlights. I will purposely block up the shadows a tad in colour images, but sometimes in black and white images, I will block them up a quite a bit more. That's a personal choice, but perhaps start by trying to capture images within the dynamic range capabilities of your camera. I don't mind blown highlights on things like a motorbike where you make have a specular highlight on some chrome; pretty much, if my eye can't see the detail, then I don't try to capture that detail in the image either.

    Another way of establishing where your highlights and shadows are falling is with the histogram. There should be enough references in the beginner's section for you to study.
    Last edited by TOM; 28-12-2010 at 8:29am.

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    Thanks Tom for the explanation very useful for me too.
    Fill flash, if your subject is close enough you can use the camera built in flash for this, I use it almost always I shoot portraits in sunlight. The other concept of exposing for the highlights its very useful too, it´s amazing the amount of detail that can appear from a supposedly black area when you use fill light or other tool in PP. Easy way of exposing for highlights is locking the focus on a highlight area of the scene (at similar distance to your main subject) and without releasing the button re-compose and shoot. If your subject is at a different distance then expose the highlight and memorize the settings, then focus your subject and use Exposure Compensation to match the highlight exposure (if working on Aperture priority is very easy). There is a more formal way of locking only exposure but I have yet to learn it on the D90.

    Also, the D90 has an "Active D-lightning" feature that somehow compresses the dynamic range of the scene and I have found it produces pretty good results on these type of scene on preventing blown highlights. I don´t know technically how it works or if it is detrimental somehow on image quality but you can play around and compare results yourself. (it does not work when shooting in RAW)

    regards
    From the end of the World with a Nikon D90, Nikon 16/85 3.5-5.6 and Sigma 30 1.4
    Come and visit!

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    Great post. But to say there are no landscape shots where blown highlights are welcomed is wrong Here you go... blown highlights and all: (and I have nothing but good feedback for this image)





    Quote Originally Posted by TOM View Post
    Okay, what you have there is veiling flare. Have you got a lens hood? If so use it. Shooting directed towards the sun can produce stunning results, but you become more susceptible to flare, especially if you shoot with zoom lenses. you shot above is a great example of an image that you would have done well to use an ND grad filter with (it's like putting sunglasses over the the bright part of the image, in this case from the horizon up).

    A highlight is the brightest part of the image that retains detail. A cloud may be a highlight in an image. If you blow the highlight, it means that you have exceeded the dynamic range of the camera with your chosen exposure, and you have lost detail in the cloud (pure white). Sometimes this is unavoidable, especially if your subject is in much darker light than the cloud. You then need to decide what is more important in the image; a well exposed subject, or an image without blown highlights which may be able to be fixed in the darkroom or on the computer. So sometimes it is a compromise. Landscapes can have a large dynamic range (range of luminance from dark to light), and ND graduated filters are often employed to narrow the dynamic range that the camera has to capture. Solid state capture doesn't have the ability to capture as much of that dynamic range as ag-x capture, in camera, and this is one of the compelling reasons why 80% of landscape photographers use film. But digital has the ability to make up some lost ground in software such as Lightroom or Photoshop, where editing a raw file, within reason, can be done without too much detriment to the final image. And you will get instant feedback on where you highlights and shadows are falling via one of the two methods outlined below.

    An exposure is the action of your camera making the photograph. It is exposing light to the digital sensor, through the lens. So to make a correct exposure, you need to establish what size aperture you want to use, and what shutter speed to use with your chosen ISO. There should be plenty of info here in the Beginner's section.

    On you camera, you should have the function for the camera to display blown highlights or blocked shadows. I have no idea what this display option would be, but when you review an image that you have just taken on the LCD, this function will tell your camera to flash parts of the image where you have lost detail. If you have a very bright section in your image, the screen may flash red over that section, and if you have really dark spots, it may flash blue.

    DSC_0792.jpg

    You probably want to avoid blown highlights (the red section) in most shots, and I can't think of any landscape image where blown highlights are welcome. So in the above shot, you can either go the filter route (preferred method), or expose for the highlights (in this case, underexpose your shot so you don't see any red flashing on your LCD) and bring the foreground up in Lightroom or similar. Your shot here is not fixable, as once you lose your highlights, they are gone for good. Blocked shadows don't look as bad (at least to me) as blown highlights. I will purposely block up the shadows a tad in colour images, but sometimes in black and white images, I will block them up a quite a bit more. That's a personal choice, but perhaps start by trying to capture images within the dynamic range capabilities of your camera. I don't mind blown highlights on things like a motorbike where you make have a specular highlight on some chrome; pretty much, if my eye can't see the detail, then I don't try to capture that detail in the image either.

    Another way of establishing where your highlights and shadows are falling is with the histogram. There should be enough references in the beginner's section for you to study.
    Last edited by gcflora; 29-12-2010 at 4:49pm.

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    Trub,

    Thanks for pointing that out. I never realise it and now will have a look at photos I have taken and will watch out for that the next time

    Tom,
    Thank you very much again for your detailed explanation. and I am interested in using that filter
    I did a search on ausphotography abt that filter and found this website.
    http://www.leefilters.com/camera/pro...4756C9285307C/
    so this is just like a thin sheet and I have to buy the holder for it and not like the normal uv filter which u just screw to the lens?

    has anyone else know where is a good place to buy this filter retail in melbourne? as I am going to overseas soon and not sure if buying online will get delivered on time.

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    A royal pain in the bum! arthurking83's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Patagonia View Post
    .......

    Also, the D90 has an "Active D-lightning" feature that somehow compresses the dynamic range of the scene and I have found it produces pretty good results on these type of scene on preventing blown highlights. I don´t know technically how it works or if it is detrimental somehow on image quality but you can play around and compare results yourself. (it does not work when shooting in RAW)

    regards
    This is because you are using "THE WRONG SOFTWARE"(a technical concept now copyrighted to AK83inc ) if you use Nikon's software, all in camera settings are honoured and you will indeed see a marked difference between ADL active images and images not used in ADL mode.

    Quote Originally Posted by mocha2204 View Post
    ......
    Do you think by attaching a UV filter will help with decreasing the shadow, over exposed background and lighter face for people shots?...
    definitely worse in images such as #2! And of no help in any of the other images, but possibly leading to more IQ degradation.
    I understand the limitations of time and conditions myself, but a filter that can help is a polariser. Cheap and definitely usable in some of your images.

    it seems that you still have the camera set up as per default(understandable) but in bright conditions like this switch off AutoISO, even though the ISO level is not overly problematic. The idea is more about how to take control of the situation and hopefully get images that you're more pleased with. When light gets lower and to minimise any lost chances, AutoISO is great to have on again.

    TOM's answer is perfect! heed that advice.

    i will add tho, that in that last image with the flare even the lens hood may not help, and you may have to shield the lens with your hand as a shadow casting prop(or alternatively use anything else, like a book/brochure/etc just to cast a shadow on to the front of your lens. Light striking the lens is bad, and some lenses(especially fast ones like the 35/1.8) are more prone to the problem. Adding a filter to the lens is asking for even more of the problem,.. that's for sure.
    Some lenses are particularly good at shooting directly into a bright light source and produce much lower or even non flare at all. So lens choice is also important!!

    A CPL(polariser) would have helped in #2 and lowered the reflective property of the water(so increase the dynamic range), but as you shot into the sun, care would be needed to shield the filter from the sun as well. Otherwise you get flare from the CPL cast onto the lens and so a lot more flare than you got in that final image.
    A polariser would have also helped in #1 by reducing some of the glare of the white building, but it still seems far too strong(bright) compared to the woman who is in the shade(half at least). Place the woman in more light, or use a flash for more fill light(an SB400 will produce better flash quality than the onboard flash, is cheap and small ).
    In #3 a CPL would have done a few things. Turn yourself a few more degrees to the right, and the sky could have turned darker blue, the background tree more vivid green and the slight highlight blowout on the girls cheeks could have been eliminated. polariser is good for eliminating shiny skin glare spots.
    #4 glare again. You'll soon read that a CPL minimises glare a lot, and the green tree leaves in the background here could have been a vivid mid tine green, instead of a whited out pale green colour.
    #5(the lone building shot) is pretty close to good. once again a CPL may have made a bit better exposure, but it looks easily managable. Whitebalance is set to auto, and probably not tweaked. The resultant histogram has a bright spike in the blue colour channel, suggesting a WB tweak to something slightly warmer could be set.
    I can't see what software you've used to play with the images, but I can only assume photoshop(or similar) ie. not Nikon's software.
    Try Nikon's software.. ViewNX2. You already should have it(on disc in the D90's box??). If not download the latest version v2.03.
    Load image #5 into there and set whitebalance to Daylight(5200K) and watch the histogram. use the tricolour histogram, and if the image shows a lot of blue on the LHS of the graph, add more warmth(higher number K value) or try cloudy Wb setting. if the graph shows too much red on the RHS, then lower it again. a little extra red on the RHS is normal. just not too much tho!
    From there, tweak as you like. Darken, brighten, add contrast, use various Picture Controls settings.. etc. once you have an image that looks OK.. you can save as whatever format and then open that saved derivative in any other software.. to add more tweaks such as <insert whatever other tweaks you need here>

    Patagonia mentioned Active D-Lighting before, and that it didn't work on raw images. ALWAYS shoot in raw, at least at the beginning. Easy to convert to jpgs in ViewNX2(hit the convert button and your set ) If you shoot in raw mode(NEF) and use Active D-Light, you can see a massive difference in an image such as #2, where the shadows can be easily managed(but you should never have a person half in shadow anyhow.. looks bad ).
    You can't adjust ADL very much using ViewNX, but it;s far more flexible in CaptureNX. off, on or change form one setting to another.. as long as you shot in NEF mode!! great way to process quickly if you need too.

    if this sounds like an ad for Nikon software.. it's not! It's an acquired taste, many people report problems(nothing to worry about from my desk tho!).. but I think it;s the easiest way to manage Nikon NEF files. if you shoot jpg.. forget it. Better free software exists.
    learn to shoot within the limitations of the conditions. Carefully into the sun!
    Buy a CPL(polariser) filter, if you plan to shoot more and more in such bright midday situations the polariser is the best filter for you.
    GND is great, and I have way to many, but if you want to shoot into the sun a lot.. I'm certain it won't really help you much. At least not until you learn more about how to use what you currently have.

    and also, I fully agree with gcflora on his thought about blown highlights. Sometimes they can look appropriate. It's a matter of taste tho, and definitely not too much on skin.. even tho this can also look ok too.
    Nikon D800E, D300, D70s
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    This is because you are using "THE WRONG SOFTWARE"(a technical concept now copyrighted to AK83inc ) if you use Nikon's software, all in camera settings are honoured and you will indeed see a marked difference between ADL active images and images not used in ADL mode.
    Very good to know, so it will honour settings but as is still NEF also gives you de oportunity to modify them without quality loss?...best of both worlds.
    What do you think of using ADL in these situations?

    Agree also with excelent photos with blown highlights, as with any rule, it can be broken if you find a better way to do it, they are just guides...

    regards

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    A royal pain in the bum! arthurking83's Avatar
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    using NEF is the best lossless editing format.
    With Nikon software you edit the NEF file directly and can maintain the NEF format throughout the process. you save in NEF, and can always revert back to the original NEF as shot in camera at any time.

    Other ways to see your Picture Control managed images(indirectly tho!) is via a viewing program like FSViewer, which displays the embedded jpg file in the NEF when browsing.
    Programs like LR, while good, don't show the embedded jpg image perfectly. Well I haven't managed to get it too. Even if you make wild edit alterations in any of Nikon's software directly on the NEF, and save in NEF format, FSViewer still displays the NEF file as Nikon's software edited it. Lightroom doesn't. It displays it's own rendition of the NEF file.

    ADL works well in almost all situations. D300 doesn't have an Auto ADL mode, which I'm lead to believe also is very capable. If the D90 does, try it for yourself.. I've seen folks getting good results from the either the D3 or D3s with Auto ADL.

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    Hi Arthur,

    First of all, thank you in taking the time to provide detailed feedbacks on each of my images.

    I had a play on my D90 for d-lighting and filter effects and they were pretty cool. Going to transfer them into computer to better see the difference and post them later no one has ever told me to edit pictures on my D90!

    I have downloaded NX2 and load image 5. I had a play with the straighten, d-lighting, shadow, sharpness but it wont let me play with the white balance.
    The "0" section for the white balance is grey in color whereas the "0" in any other section are black in color.
    Anyone knows how to activate the while balance section so I could have a play with it?

    Also I have searched for CPL filter for my 35mm f1.8 52mm lens.
    is this any good? its more pricey compared to others but if this is the only CPL I need, I dont mind it.
    and anywhere else online/retail I can get a better deal than citiwide?
    http://www.citiwideonline.com/au/ind...mart&Itemid=79

    Thanks!!

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    Hi

    You can only use the White Balance section when editing Raw/Nef files. Set you camera to Raw and take a couple of photos outside, then you will be able to use the "0" section to change the white balance. I'm sorry for the brief explanation but I am still learning too. Hope this helps.

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    Ahhhhh
    that explains why I cant play with the white balance

    Thanks Carol

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