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Blown out sky

Discussion in 'General Technical Discussion' started by Huff09, Jun 20, 2007.

  1. Huff09


    Feb 25, 2007
    Carmichael, CA
    I'm pretty sure I know the answer to this but thought I would throw it out there anyway.

    The picture below was taken into a partially obstructed sun (Obviously :biggrin:) . Everything turned out as I was hoping except for the sky.

    I took several shots at several different exposure settings. However, as you might expect, anything that got remotely close to a correctly exposed sky left the main subject very underexposed.

    Ideally I would have waited about 20-30 minutes for a little better light, however, that would have left the sun below my horizon.

    Is there a way to get this shot in a single exposure? I realize there are limits to any cameras abilities and am thinking I may be up against just that but wanted to check with people here and be sure.

    Thoughts? Suggestions?

    Subscribe to see EXIF info for this image (if available)
  2. First of all let me say that I'm not an expert and am struggling with this subject myself.

    As far as I know it's not possible to get both the subject and the sunny sky correctly exposed in a single shot.

    Now, what I sometimes do is to underexpose a little bit and see what I can do in post processing, either in photoshop or Capture. I'm shooting in RAW so I can adjust the exposure a little bit if I need. That way I get some acceptable results, but still not great.

    The nicest option seems to be the merge of three or more pictures with different exposure in Photoshop. (I forgot the name of the procedure but I have seen some amazing results) Problem with this technique is that you need a tripod because all pictures have to have the exact same composition.

    So, if there's anyone out there who could tell me and Chris whether it's possible to shoot such a picture in a single exposure I am also very willing to learn how that should be done!
  3. Daniel Bates

    Daniel Bates

    Jan 9, 2007
    A polarizer helps... I use fill flash for small subjects, but obviously a steamboat is a bit large for that technique.

    HDR (High Dynamic Range) imaging takes multiple exposures of the same subject and merges them to maintain shadow and highlight detail. It's great when you can pull it off...

    Usually when shooting something like that, I underexpose and process the image in Photoshop, using a layer mask to separate the foreground and the sky.
  4. Huff09


    Feb 25, 2007
    Carmichael, CA
    Thanks for the input everyone. I don't have NX, but I could probably accomplish the same thing in Lightroom.

    As for an HDR. . . I am dying to try but currently have PS7 which is no help in this area.

    Anyway, thanks again everyone I appreciate the help.
  5. Any solution for the sky is made more difficult in this particular image because you have blown out sky in between the tines (?) of the paddle wheel. I don't think any software technique can handle those little spaces without creating ugly artifacts where the sky and paddles meet. I think the image looks ok as is. The focal point is the sunstar and that looks nice.

    The only way to get the sky looking good in camera, is to shoot with the sun behind you or to your side where it will be lighting fully the wheel. but then you lose the highlights on the water and the sunburst.
  6. Chris,

    Try the approach suggested in this post. I'd never tried it until just now and was able to get decent results with your picture. Using Photoshop, I did have to use a Hue/Saturation adjustment layer over the Selective Color adjustment layer to get the sky looking right. Also, because of the white in the paddle wheel, I did need to create a layer mask for the Selective Color and Hue/Sat layers, but the nature of the image makes that real easy (click on Select/color range-click the eyedropper on the sky-before creating the adjustment layer and the mask is made automatically).

    Really cool shot, by the way-good eye!
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 15, 2017
  7. Take a look at This Thread, and scan down to the post by Iliah, where he describes how to use the Blend If features of layers. I often use this to replace boring skies, sometimes just gray skies and sometimes blown out skies. Since starting this I have gone to my favorite spots and shot just Sky images, with various cloud formations and times of day. What I really like about this technique is that you don't have to be concerned with a mask where you have to mess around with getting the edges to look correct. I often cannot get my subject to "pop through" quite as much as I'd like, and then I just add a "reveal all" mask to the layer and paint over the subject. It is really quick and easy. If you would like me to have a try, feel free to drop me a note and I can help walk you through this. Once you get the hang of it, it is really easy to do.

    Wish I could take credit for it, but all the Kudo's go to Iliah, without a doubt. If he could get this through my thick skull, ANYBODY can do it :wink:
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 15, 2017
  8. Thanks for the pointer to the other thread, Bill. "Blend if" is a method I've never tried but that looks very useful.
  9. Huff09


    Feb 25, 2007
    Carmichael, CA
    Bill & Dave,

    Thanks for the ideas. Haven't had much time to mess with this lately but am going to give both suggestions a try this week.

    Everytime I try this stuff it just reminds me how badly I need to take some type of PS classes. I feel about as smart as a small box of rocks when I start reading some of these posts.

    Thanks again. I'll let you know how it works out.
  10. eYounger


    Feb 12, 2006
    I would have set the exposure to +3, think it's 2/3 step, and use a faster shutter or a lower blender. And may change the measuring meter on the camera to spot, that would about do it, though a tiny bit of Photoshopping to get the picture just right.
  11. eYounger


    Feb 12, 2006
    Ops, forgot to say, u could always buy a ND filter, a Neutral Density filter, that helps removing overexposures.
  12. photoshooter

    photoshooter Guest

    You can try to spot meter, add EV, use faster shutter speed, this should yield better results.

    Reduce in camera contrast, when shooting, this also seems to help.
  13. Keis


    Jan 13, 2006
    Fort Collin, CO
    I have a bunch of great pictures that have been ruined by blown out sky or blown out clouds in a nice blue sky. I use the brut force method that is removing the sky and replacing it with another. Actually your sky is easy to do that with. Assuming you have Photoshop you pic the magic wand and select non contiguous. Select any point in your sky and the selection should contain all the sky elements in one click..even those between the paddle wheel struts. You use this selection as a mask on another different picture that has a nice sky. THe details of using channels and layer masks are too much for this post but it has saved many of my photos.
  14. BigPixel

    BigPixel Guest

    easier to do it right in camera as much as possible. Shoot manual mode, ISO 100, shutter at the highest strobe sync speed your camera allows (1/125-1/250 probably). Meter the sky, close aperture 1-2 stops and then use a strobe on the paddle wheel to bring it home. Manual strobe at 1/2 to 1/4 power would probably do it, maybe less. The advice given earlier about not having enough power using a strobe at this distance was not accurate. You'll hold the background and illuminate the paddle wheel very dramatically.
    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 16, 2007
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