Merciless shadows and blown out skies

Discussion in 'Canon EOS' started by hjoseph7, Nov 9, 2009.

  1. I took my Canon 30D out for a drive last weekend on a clear sunny day and I have to say that 70% of my pictures had
    some issues. Some that even Photoshop could not fix. I hate to Chimp, but not Chimping can be fatal with these digital
    cameras. They have a hard time handling contrast. If you expose for the shadows the sky or background is totally devoid
    of pixels. If you expose for the highlights then everything else is dark so dark that trying to lighten them up would be futile.
     
  2. Here is an example:
    00Uy7l-188883584.jpg
     
  3. What did you expose on in this image ?
     
  4. Too much contrast! Just like any pix taken in the middle of the day. Where did you meter? What mode (Manual, Aperture Priority, P or Auto) are you in? How did you meter (light meter, center-weight, partial, or spot)?
     
  5. Hmm, open shade with bright sunlit walls and white objects. Chromes and prints wouldn't have fared much better. In my film days I used to work really hard to control contrast: wait for a cloud to cover the sun, use fill flash and/or use reflectors. If you can't do those things, shoot RAW, expose for the important HLs and pull up the shadows in post. The old way of doing it is a contrast mask but HL and shadow sliders might help as would multiple RAW conversions with EC settings for shadows, all blended to taste in PS layers.
     
  6. Here is another one: I used Evaluative metering, Large JPEG, P, ISO 320. I think film could have handled these situations allot better.
    00Uy8q-188893584.jpg
     
  7. there's no useful information here.
    did you shoot this raw? is the camera capable of 14 bit depth? What Photoshop techniques did you try to use?
    digital cameras are what they are and that's approx what slide film can give. a good technician knows the limits of the tools they're using and ways of working with them. It's much easier to dig stuff out of the shadows vs. hopeless blown highlights.
    Have you considered fill flash?
     
  8. This time of year is when low light angles from the southern sun tend to make contrasty scenes even more so, or at least so it seems to me. However, I have just been looking at scans of some film shots from this time of year (late autumn, early winter) and I've had to recover the highlights and fill-in the shadows on a bunch of them to cut the stark black and white effect. Of course, I was mostly shooting with slide film, specifically KII and K25.
    I still think that pushing the exposure a little toward the highlights and then post-processing for the shadows works best in the digital age. One thing's for sure, if you really burn out the highlights, there's nothing there to recover. Of course, totally black shadows don't fill in too well either.... :p
     
  9. Shadows are more easily recovered than are highlights. I expose at -0.33 with my Canons and cut contrast one step.
     
  10. In situations like these no in-camera jpeg will preserve the dynamic range without clipping either end. Instead consider shooting RAW and bracketing the exposure by about +/- 1 EV. That will give you room to play with.
    When shoothing RAW, it's also worth adjusting your camera's setting as described in this article to get a much more accurate histogram.
     
  11. I think film could have handled these situations allot better.
    Negative film would capture more of the scene's dynamic range without clipping information from the brightest or darkest parts, but it would take very-skillful custom printing to get good-looking prints from those negatives. Even with film, you need to be conscious of the contrast in the scene and of what your meter is measuring. Loading your camera with 400-speed film, setting it to P mode, and just pointing and shooting wouldn't give you any better results.
     
  12. I think film could have handled these situations allot better.​
    I agree, provided that you mean negative film. I would happily cut my 15 megapixels in half if I could get some return in dynamic range. Seriously.
     
  13. Black and white film is fun, as it has extreme dynamic range or high contrast, depending on how you use it. If the sun is bright, overexpose and under develop. If it is cloudy, underexpose and overdevelop. The real pain are partly cloudy days that alternate minute by minute :)
    For digital, chimping is helpful to set your exposure, but after you get that down you can stop. Turn down the contrast in the raw editor to calm the shadows.
     
  14. Harry, I am a bit old school but I always carry a set of ND grads. In the top photo a carefully positioned Grad on the RHS would help and in the lower shot a grad covering the top (awnings and sky) would help. In both cases the Grad will not completely solve the problem without creating other issues but you should be OK with a 1 stop (and possibly even a 2 stop) grad
     
  15. Harry, I believe you indicated that you are shooting Jpeg and that is where you need to start to fix the problem. I have the 1dsmkIII and shot both raw and jpegs for a test I was doing. The raws were all fine and the jpegs did not handle many things very well. I shoot in contrasty light all the time and have few problems. I don't chimp, but I do look when I recognize tough light situations and based on the info I get, can make the needed adjustments to get the proper exposure (one that will process out as needed)
    Shoot Raw!
     
  16. Harry,
    Your first shot is just too bad to adjust. Your second can be saved with a little bit of PS.
    You need to shoot RAW under these conditions and chimp your first few shots to check your exposure.
    Also your really need to have your sensor cleaned. I mean really.
    00UyFA-188981684.jpg
     
  17. On a side note, totally unrelated:
    You might want to clean/blow your sensor. The second shot has dust all over that sky...
    Marc's fix with the saturation totally makes that sensor dust just pop out.
    Unless it's just some birds off in the distance?
     
  18. How about shooting in portrait mode and decreasing the contrast. Off course this can be done in RAW too. I recently pulled up a 4 stop underexposed D200 shot. Certainly RAW from new cameras are much better for that.
    00UyHe-189021884.jpg
     
  19. This is a problem that I constantly deal with in high contrast scenes. I simply underexpose a bit and push in post, then apply some lighter noise reduction to help with the noise in the shadows. Who knows when digital will be able to resolve this issue with sensors that have a wider dynamic range.
     
  20. I always shoot in RAW, as our brain is not extremely efficient at telling us how much dynamic range is in a scene.
    The end result is usually much better photographs, as you can expose so the highlights aren't blown and bring the shadows up later.
     
  21. Sunny-day shooting is often a frustrating experience as the range of tones is often way too much for the medium to handle, digital or film. Unless you learn how to use fill-flash (pretty easy with some of the newer flash units), you'll always get these types of files.
    A polarizer might have helped a bit.
    When you out for drives, relax and enjoy the scenery.
     
  22. Ha! Posts like these make me enjoy shooting B&W film in my Olympus OM-1 even more. For example, this image was shot in the same conditions, 5 stops difference between the shadows and the highlights. No problem, full detail retained in both:
    [​IMG]
    (5x7in chemical print, Ilford MG IV satin paper, print scanned with Epson V700)
    Still, if you ignore my pro-film rant, I used to shoot 1D/Ds MkII Canon pro bodies, and it really had quite incredible highlight latitude, if you shoot RAW and process with a good RAW processor. Still nowhere near B&W film, for example with this shot, though I could recover a lot of the shadows, there was no way to recover this sky, but admittedly it was straight into the sun. (EOS 1D MkIIn @ ISO100, 28-300L, f/22)
    [​IMG]
    For the original poster's image at the top, I would have underexposed by about a stop more, and seriously pushed up the shadows, even though they would have been very noisy.
     
  23. Indraneel, beautiful image, but I am calling foul on your statement that it was "underexposed by 4 stops". To my knowledge, you are using a camera which does not allow a -4 exposure compensation setting, nor does it have the necessary display in the viewfinder to even indicate that a show is 4 stops underexposed.
    So that leaves us to examine the actual lighting condition and exposure. Your EXIF data indicates manual mode, and ISO100, 1/125s, f/11. Your claim of four stops underexposure would require your subject to be sitting in deep shade (i.e. around EV10), i.e. one stop less than typical open shade (EV11). From the lighting in this image, and the fact that she casts a shadow on the table, this is clearly not the case, in my opinion.
    Sorry, I will buy that you perhaps had to bring it up two stops, but not four. Also, no D200 I have seen would handle the lost colour fidelity and noise that well, no matter what the post-processing. Sorry if this post is a bit aggressive, but I just don't buy it.
     
  24. david_henderson

    david_henderson www.photography001.com

    "I think film could have handled these situations allot better"
    Depends. With slide film it is most often the case that the material can handle less brightness range than a digital sensor, not more. Indeed I've found that after fifteen years of using slide film, exposure control with digital isn't so hard, particularly when you can see right away whether you've got it right or not.
    No matter what your medium there are scenes- sometimes lots of them- where you can't simply aim the camera set on auto and expect to get a good result. Tools like grads, fill flash, polariser if its a bright sky causing the problem, recomposition, HDR, shooting raw can all help sometimes, depending on the circumstances. But if you're not checking what you've got at the time, not aware of scene brightness relative to the capabilities of your medium, and can't bring any of the correction tools to bear, then my first thought I'm afraid is user issue not medium problem.
    As Mike Dixon says, colour neg film has a wider dynamic range and can handle more contrast. But there is no medium available to you that beats thinking about your picture- the composition of and contrast within your first picture in particular is going to result in a poor photograph on anything IMO.
     
  25. The first picture seems to have more detail than the presentation is giving justice to. It's a very difficult lighting situation but with slightly less exposure and careful PP. there is a better image possible. True, digital has some dynamic range challenges but not much more so than slide film.
    00UyMy-189111584.jpg
     
  26. I would agree with some of the comments above....
    • Shoot raw. It allows you to do a lot more in terms of shadows
    • You can't recover white areas that are 'blown out'. Shoot at -1/3 or even -2/3 whenever you have bright white areas in the scened - that includes clouds, snow covered mountains, bright white clothes, etc.
    • You can recover dark areas fairly easily. It can be pretty automatic using a program like DxO, or fairly manual using PS - I've been using DxO for about 3.5 years now and have been extremely pleased with the results.
     
  27. Thanks you all I think I'll start shooting RAW from now on unless I'm sure I can nail the shot.
     
  28. D. L. , Nov 10, 2009; 05:30 a.m.
    Sorry, I will buy that you perhaps had to bring it up two stops, but not four. Also, no D200 I have seen would handle the lost colour fidelity and noise that well, no matter what the post-processing. Sorry if this post is a bit aggressive, but I just don't buy it.
    Beautiful portfolio Dawid, but you still miss some things. Here's what happened: I have a bunch of manual focus lenses, so for easy exposure control I use the aperture ring on all (manual and AF, and manual exposure too). It was around 9 in the morning, Dallas downtown with tall buildings all around, sun shining through between them. We were shooting on a covered porch with graffiti wall and a solid wooden fence around it. I had metered the scene, set up a reflector and took a few shots. Then moved in closer, changed my lens and took a dozen shots before looking at the LCD. Realised my mistake, changed the aperture, moved the reflector around, and continued.
    And here's the processing: Pulled up 2 stops in viewNX just to be able to rate the image. Put the picture to portrait mode with -3 contrast and +1 brightness in captureNX2. Added contrast/saturation/brightness selectively using control points to the image. And then retouched as normal.
    Early morning light is directional and quite hard, will always cast a shadow that is very strong. The lack of contrast should have told you how much the exposure had to be changed. +1 for noticing it. -1 for wrong interpretation.
    00UyRD-189153584.jpg
     
  29. Indraneel, your series of images (as well as your model... oh my...) are beautiful, and very skillfully processed. Thanks for having a look at my amateur work also :)
    I will take your explanation at face value - I am still mightily impressed, and perhaps cannot believe, that a four-stops underexposed digital image from almost any camera, never mind a D200, can clean up that nicely in post-processing. But regardless, in the context of this thread, you do bring the point across - with digital imaging, expose for the highlights and bring up the shadows.
    It was interesting for me when I switched to B&W film to have to apply the opposite, i.e. exposing for the shadows, letting the practically-limitless "shoulder" of the film take care of capturing the highlights. That is exactly what I did in my first image (bridges) that I posted earlier in this thread - I over-exposed the image by at least two stops, and in printing brought back down the highlights, in fact I specifically went for an HDR-like look of surreal compressed tones. It's a lot easier with a digital image though, assuming the data is there to begin with.
    Anyway, I am still learning this analogue stuff after a year or so (I am focusing on a 100% analogue workflow, no film scanning), its completely different to how I used to process RAW files :)
     
  30. "Large JPEG, P, ISO 320."
    That combo makes no sense to me. ISO 320.... why? Why on sunny day? You have a thing against ISO 200 or 400?
    P -- again, why?
    JPG only, WHY? If you want CONTROL shoot Raw.
     
  31. Ah, Indraneel, now we're talking :) See, I expect your D200 images to have at least some form of visible noise, similar to the extreme grain your rather extreme HP5 push has produced. I myself have never tried to push it beyond 1600, I must try it someday.
    I wonder if an HP5 push to such an extreme ISO is much better, or worse, than say Delta3200 or TMZ P3200 pushed that far, or perhaps beyond... thanks for showing.
     
  32. Harry, whether you're shooting film or using a digital camera there are going to be situations where the recording medium simply cannot capture all of the information between the brightest highlight and the darkest shadow. That's just one of the uncomfortable realities of photography.
    In these cases, you have two choices: (1) wait for the lighting to change (or change it yourself), or (2) CHOOSE which part of the scene is most important to you an expose for that.
    Evaluative metering and histograms and other automated bells and whistles will never be able to make these decisions for you. You have to take full control of the metering process and exposure decisions, or you have to settle for the camera's best guess. Sorry, but there's no magic shortcut to a perfect exposure in high contrast light. For example, Ansel Adams spent a huge amount of time researching how to handle this type of lighting with black and white film. He wouldn't have dedicated so much time to the task (i.e. the development of The Zone System) if achieving a good exposure was trivial.
     
  33. There is noise, but then I also always shoot at iso 100. And, I didn't use noise reduction, didn't use shadow protection, darkened all the blacks using higher contrast. That maintained the skin tones and softer colors, didn't reveal noise in shadows, and masked the blacks from showing noise. And multiple controlled edge sharpening steps don't let the eye wander to where the noise is. But one thing I've observed, if the subject and story are powerful enough, the viewer will forgive and forget anything -- even bad lighting.
    The film was processed last year when I knew much less, so was less processed. But I kind of like the grain in that, and much better than what NIK filters can generate for digital. I've no idea about other films, only shot HP5, FP4, PanF, ektachrome, and a few stray agfa and fuji chromes.
     
  34. I finally know what to suggest to the OP. If the shot had been from the other side of the table (on the left or even from beside the seller), this would have been a very strong image. Actually showing what the lady is doing and the sellers expression better. Even better would be from the left but from higher up. We would possibly not even have noticed the bad lighting. Incidentally, because of the position, it would probably also have eliminated the blank wall and brought the lighting under control.
    Maybe it's just me that looks for a purpose, and aesthetics does not appeal to me a whole lot. Probably have to work on that, but I'm not sure.
     
  35. harry j-you are trying to capture a scene that has too high of a dr for the recording medium. this is going to true no matter if you use film or digital. for your info- ngative has a dr of about 8-9 stops, film slides has a dr of 4+ stops, raw has a dr of 8-9 stops, and jpeg has a dr of about 6 stops. if you shoot sa scene thay has a dr of 10stops or more you are dead with your method no matter what you do. therefore the photographer has to decide what is the subject and shoot the exposure for THAT, or shoot for the highlights and let the rest of the scene fall where it may in exposure. if the latter some effort and success can be made in pping to get some of those shadows back. also, generally shooting for the highlights is what most shooters do. your dslr and its exposure was set for the general scene. this means that you lost it on both the highlights and the shadows. it is up to the shooter to know when the camera is yellking for help in the exposure and to provide that help. in your pics this could have been done with exposure compensation(EC) in a negative direction. this would have preserved the highlifghts. a dslr is not a p&s, the user must provide the decision making that the camera asks for under certain conditions. a p&s will genewrally provide a pretty good pic left to its own, but a dslr will not do this.
    consider that you said go back to film. i shot slides for 32yrs and had only 4+stops of dr to use. now with digital, raw or jpeg, there is more.
     
  36. IMHO it looks like your shooting in not great conditions one being mid day light,which even our eyes have a hard time handling, let alone our cameras,don't expect so much in poor conditions!
     
  37. I totally agree with a couple of points already made: Harry you should be shooting RAW, and in iffy conditions setting negative 1/3 to 2/3 stop exposure compensation, as good insurance against blown highlights. I find a lot of times my camera's metering results in too bright a scene anyway.
    Also, I don't understand why you (and a lot of others) are averse to reviewing your shots, and give the practice a derogatory nickname (chimping). It's an available tool, one of the powerful plusses of the digital capture, why not use it?
    Something else to consider with tricky high contrast lighting: get your exposure dialed in manually, with copious "chimping" till you establish a level that minimizes blow-out (not necessarily eliminates, but just a few scattered extremes blowing out), and then leave set thus for all your similar shots.
     
  38. Welcome to the Achilles Heel of Digital. Even slide film, notorious for narrow lattitude, has more dynamic range than my Panasonic FX-150 or KM7D.
    I regularly take dual shots, in which the slide highlights comes out fine looking (maybe a little light in the highlights, but still "normal" looking), but my digital highlights are blown beyond recovery. It can be frustrating.
     
  39. Ahem, three words for you, external light meter. You will get a much much more accurate reading using an external light meter than any ttl system can provide. The problem with ttl is that it needs to be metering a middle gray, or it is taking the entire scene and averaging it to middle gray. This works, but not as well as figuring out exactly how much light is falling onto a little dome that is constant and calibrated.
    That said, as others have said, you would be wise to bracket shots. There are a lot of extra things you can do with bracketed shots in post that are just not possible otherwise.
     
  40. Shoot film, seriously :) Who needs digital camera for daylight pictures?
     
  41. That first image would be so easy to fix if shot in RAW and converted with software that has even half-decent highlight recovery functionality...
     
  42. I normally have my camwera set at -1/3 or -2/3 stop compensation and check the histogram for most shots. Reshoot where necessary. The main thing is to avoid blown out high lights as you can usually recover shadow detail.
     
  43. duplicate post
     
  44. I think part of the problem is composition. There's a lot going on in the picture and you are trying to bring everything in - "cram" is a word I would use but it is your picture so it's not fair to say that. Maybe use the available light in a different way to help you rather than use it against you.
    I also agree with Mendel. Why is reviewing a photo on the LCD so bad?
     
  45. Many recent cameras have sensors with considerable DR, but both in-camera JPG rendering and also most raw converters are not intended to deal with harsh light nowadays. They are rather made to provide pleasant rendering with good light, and essentially do not deal with DR compression. DR needs to be compressed because the DR captured by the sensor is too much for viewing and printing. This is generally the second phase of HDR processing; certain raw converters (DxO, Adobe) enable this to a certain extent without having to go HDR (with less tuning capabilities than HDR programs).
    Therefore, not only should you shoot raw and expose carefully in such conditions (so that you make the best use of the highlights headroom) - for best lifting of shadows you should make multiple raw conversions at different exposure compensation, and render in a HDR program.
    Unfortunately this is a cumbersome procedure, especially because the results are not expected to be stellar, so usually not worth the effort. For documentary purposes it would be much more convenient if cameras could do this automatically (that is, provide good midtones and acceptable shadows while not blowing the higlights, assuming that raw data is not blown). This is not a simple task, but I don't believe it is a totally infeasible one. For example, Nikon's ADL (and similar stuff of Canon and others) could be considered a first step in this direction - unfortunately it amplifies noise more than needed (by wasting a bit of the highlights range, rather than making use of the highlights headroom) and does not really get to more DR.
    Whenever feasible, better results are achievable with multiple exposures and true HDR - because the shadows in raw data are recorded sparsely and prone to noise. And having better light in the first place is even better. Due to flare, also the multiple exposures approach is not unlimited regarding DR.
     
  46. Ha! Posts like these make me enjoy shooting B&W film in my Olympus OM-1 even more. For example, this image was shot in the same conditions, 5 stops difference between the shadows and the highlights. No problem, full detail retained in both:
    Even Velvia 50 can hold a 5 stop range, which is about half of what modern DSLRs can hold. Your B&W film sample does not show a scene with contrast that would challenge either DSLRs or B&W film. Indeed, the image is muddy and lacks any true whites which indicates a scene that did not cover the full range of the film, and a print which used too low of a contrast filter on multigrade paper.
    The digital sample you posted was not comparable to the B&W scene at all. In the B&W scene the sun is to the left and low in the sky. It's producing long shadows but there are also plenty of surfaces bouncing light around filling in those shadows. It would not be difficult to capture on just about any film or sensor. As I pointed out above, it actually needs a contrast boost in print. The digital sample, by comparison, was shot from open shade straight into the sunlit sky. I would guess that either the sun was very close to being in the scene, or the sky was just hazy enough to appear white even to human eyes. Portra 160NC would not hold those highlights. You would need a neutral grad filter (won't work in this situation because there's no straight line split between foreground/background), or multiple exposures to be merged later.
    As to Harry's photos: considering the detail others pulled out with nothing more than a screen size JPEG to work from, I think the problem is primarily one of post processing, in camera or otherwise. Harry is shooting JPEG, so what are the settings on his camera? And what is he doing, if anything, to the images after they come off the card? Shooting RAW and putting a little work into the images in post would enable him to easily and consistently capture these scenes despite minor metering errors.
    Something you must keep in mind when shooting any SLR, digital or film, is that matrix metering is not designed to try and fit the entire brightness range of a scene into the exposure. Rather it is designed to give the subject, as chosen by the camera's AF system, a "normal" exposure. Center weighted meters from the 1970's / early 1980's would fail in the common snapshot situation of a person shot against a much brighter background. Camera manufacturers wanted to overcome this because most people, most of the time, are taking snapshots and want their family or friends to be properly exposed even if that means much of the background goes white. Hence the matrix meter which gives bias to the AF point. Despite all the claims of sophisticated processing and scene memories and other such technobabble, matrix meters still ignore blown highlights in favor of giving the perceived subject a normal exposure.
    This consistently throws people who want as much brightness range recorded as possible. It's why I tell people to master their spot meters and use them in high contrast situations. Just about every DSLR has a spot or partial metering mode and 2-3 meter readings will tell you all you need to know about a scene to nail it in a single shot with zero chimping. (Not that I'm against chimping, but you can shoot with that level of confidence once you understand your spot meter.)
    Contrary to popular belief, DSLRs do not suffer from poor dynamic range. They blow slide film out of the water on this mark and are actually roughly the same as many popular B&W emulsions. (I don't know why B&W film has the generic reputation of being high dynamic range. It's the C-14 color portrait films which really knock the ball out of the park here.) What they suffer from is matrix metering which will let highlights clip any time the subject is perceived to be on the shadow side. The meters are probably making the right decisions for snapshooters. But advanced amateurs need a metering mode which will attempt to capture everything in the scene. The lighting optimizers in the latest DSLRs are a sign that Canon and Nikon know about this problem, but they need to take the next step and design the meter to work with the lighting optimizer firmware. This would eliminate 99% of the complaints like those in this thread.
     
  47. Daniel Lee Taylor wote: Even Velvia 50 can hold a 5 stop range, which is about half of what modern DSLRs can hold. Your B&W film sample does not show a scene with contrast that would challenge either DSLRs or B&W film. Indeed, the image is muddy and lacks any true whites which indicates a scene that did not cover the full range of the film, and a print which used too low of a contrast filter on multigrade paper.


    Daniel, the way I printed my image is my aesthetic concern, thank you very much. You have no idea what kind end result I had in mind.
    You also seemed to misunderstand my post. You appear to be claiming that, in my particular scene, which metered EV10 in the shadows, and EV15.5 in the highlights (5.5 stops difference) the entire brightness range of the scene is 5.5 stops. That's patently incorrect. In a world where everything was coloured 18% grey, maybe, but down here in South Africa (and I suspect where you live also) things have various colours ranging from black to white.
    In my image, the brightness range from the dark, dirty pavement in the shadows, to the white clothing in the direct sunlight, both of which hold full detail, are well in excess of 10 stops. It was however my choice to compress them down into a very narrow display range, and in fact this exaggerates the original DR available to me in order to do so. It will still also take some more time than the year I have spent to learn to fully realise my vision in the darkroom, I have to control one variable at a time.
    Please have a look at my portfolio, will you. I have for many years been shooting a range of digital cameras, ranging from point and shoots, to $7000 DSLR bodies. Why on earth do you think that, at this point in my life, I would switch to black and white film?
    Because: apart from the very different tonal rendering which I find pleasing (personal aesthetics), there is absolutely no contest whatsoever in terms of the dynamic range between a typical black and white film like Ilford FP4, and any digital camera. Live with it, it's a matter inherent to the physical process of producing the captured image. This has been debated to death already, on this site and others.
    Saying, at this point in time, that a digital sensor, with its linear sampling characteristics, has the same or greater dynamic range than a traditional monochrome film (because of the self-attenuating, non-linear characteristic) makes you look like a fool.
    Why is it that, over the past year, I have not in fact *seen* a single blown highlight in any single image I have taken on black and white film? And this with "inaccurate" metering and guesstimation by virtue of me using battery-less/meter-less cameras. With a DSLR, using the same shooting/metering techniques, I fought blown highlights all the time. Just as I fight them when I shoot colour slide film. There is a huge difference, man! Negative film is simply incomparable to either of those two.
    I do, however, wholeheartedly agree that multi-layer negative films (be it colour film like Portra NC 160, or Ilford XP2) have even greater highlight range, because when one layer of silver grains reaches maximum saturation, the others will often not have.
    I agree fully that my two shots are in no way comparable, I simply posted my digital shot as an example of what happens when I boost the shadows on a Canon Pro body to maximise dynamic range, including the issues (such as read noise).
    And yes, Harry's shot is quite fixable if it were taken in RAW format, and even his JPEG image is somewhat recoverable with careful processing.
    In the end, I am still amazed at the directness of your attack against my post, as well as my image(s) - I was merely making conversation. We are on a Forum, are we not? Of course, you are merely sharing your "opinion" - so all's fair, I guess.
    Cheerio.
     
  48. Oh, and Daniel, in response to your comment of my image holding no true whites, please, if you'll be so kind, open it up in photoshop and measure the RGB values of the woman on the bridge's shirt, or the hairdresser's homemade white poster in the bottom-right corner, and report back on them here telling us why it's not white?
    I believe the image I posted (which is not the most artistic image ever, I admit), with full detail visible in these whites, as well as actually inside the hairdresser's hut (which surely must have measured EV7 or less) is simply not possible with a single digital capture with current state-of-the-art DSLR technology. So much information is captured over such a wide range that I could "play around" to produce the image I posted here. It may look muddy to you, but it realises my vision for the shot (kinda) and represents detail across the full spectrum going from full black to full white.
    Your statement of it not containing whites is thus simply incorrect. And I know for a fact that no DSLR can represent that range of tones in a single shot; I have done a lot of HDR in my life, using various techniques and tone-mapping strategies, and you'd need a minimum of two raw files for this particular range, in my experience.
    Of course, the DSLR images will be nice and clean, not grainy like my image. There are many drawbacks to film as well. But DR is not one of them.
     
  49. "I think film could have handled these situations allot better."
    Print film would be more forgiving and allows for less exposure accuracy. Your results are typical of someone who is used to the forgiving nature of film when they first try digital. Getting the exposure right within a stop or so is no longer close enough. Keep practicing. It's not up to the process and materials to handle the situation. It's up to the photographer. :)
    "I hate to Chimp..."
    Why? Chefs taste the food as it is being prepared. Writers read what they have written. All other visual artists get to use their eyeballs when working. Only film photographers try to create visual art blind and in the dark. It's not a strength. It's a weakness. Use your eyes and mind; they are their for you to take advantage of.
     
  50. Well-said Matt - film photographers indeed often think it's a strength not be able to see what you have captured. That's why people serious about this, e.g. in studio / landscape work, use/d instant film like Polariod to "chimp" in an analogue manner :)
    Of course, on the other hand, some people chimp so much that they miss subsequent shots, and that becomes unacceptable.
     
  51. if you are going to use digital, you should be shooting this scene, if not all, in RAW. And you expose to the right of the histogram. Meaning you butt the histograph right up to the wall on the right hand side without climbing up it....altho, if you have actual lights or are ok with a bright white sky, you can climb up the wall a bit. Don't worry about what the exposure looks like on the LCD, just be concerned with putting the graph up against the rh wall. Then in the RAW converter....preferrably ACR or Lightroom....use the exposure slider to bring the exposure back to "normal". What this does is give you detail in the highlites (because you didn't climb up the rh wall) and as much shadow detail as possible in digital (because you acquired as much info in the shadows as possible....). You can then use the fill slider to bring up the mid range (that may have gotten too dark when lowering the exposurer slider). You can also lower the contrast some to give a more even look to the pick.
    When I do this with a 5D I put the histograph to the right hand side in camera. Then in ACR/Lightroom I lower the exposure -1.33 (for most images), pump fill up till it looks right, and adjust contrast till it looks right. And a good amount of the images I need to lower the darkness back down to a "real" shadow. It's amazing how much dynamic range you can obtain using this method.
    this article by Andrew Rodney is extremely helpful. http://www.digitalphotopro.com/technique/camera-technique/exposing-for-raw.html
     
  52. Daniel, the way I printed my image is my aesthetic concern, thank you very much. You have no idea what kind end result I had in mind.
    Nor do I care because my intent was not to judge your aesthetic, but how the image relates to the discussion of dynamic range and exposure.
    You also seemed to misunderstand my post. You appear to be claiming that, in my particular scene, which metered EV10 in the shadows, and EV15.5 in the highlights (5.5 stops difference) the entire brightness range of the scene is 5.5 stops. That's patently incorrect. In a world where everything was coloured 18% grey, maybe, but down here in South Africa (and I suspect where you live also) things have various colours ranging from black to white.
    A meter measures the brightness of its target and tells you the exposure necessary to place that target at middle gray. That it assumes middle gray for the exposure calculation does not in any way change the measured brightness, or the range between two measurements. If your metered range was 5.5 stops from deepest shadow to brightest highlight, then that was the range. You can change the exposure to place the shadows at just above black, or the highlights at just below white, but the opposite will still land 5.5 stops away.
    Because: apart from the very different tonal rendering which I find pleasing (personal aesthetics), there is absolutely no contest whatsoever in terms of the dynamic range between a typical black and white film like Ilford FP4, and any digital camera.
    I quite frankly don't know where these myths about B&W emulsions come from. Ilford's own datasheet for FP4 indicates a roughly 9.5 stop range (which sounds about right from my experience). Modern DSLRs often have a 9-10 stop range in RAW, with a few stretching to 11 stops. Typical B&W films have 8-10 stops of total useful range. Some emulsion/developer combos can really push beyond this and are comparable to color portrait films (14 stops give or take), but your typical combo does not. If you doubt me pick up a Stouffer transmission step wedge and test. Or just download Ilford's FP4 datasheet and take a look at the characteristic curve on page 4.
    The big difference is where that range falls. On B&W film it's mostly on the highlight side, which is why you expose for the shadows. On a digital sensor it's mostly on the shadow side, which is why you expose for the highlights. But the same total range is there, and as long as you can push tones around for the print it really doesn't matter which side of middle gray they were on.
    Why is it that, over the past year, I have not in fact *seen* a single blown highlight in any single image I have taken on black and white film?
    Your portfolio has examples of blown highlights.
    With a DSLR, using the same shooting/metering techniques, I fought blown highlights all the time.
    You shouldn't use the same metering techniques as I discussed above.
    In the end, I am still amazed at the directness of your attack against my post, as well as my image(s) - I was merely making conversation. We are on a Forum, are we not? Of course, you are merely sharing your "opinion" - so all's fair, I guess.
    I did not attack your post or your images, and you're way too sensitive over both. I disagreed with you and explained why. An attack would be, oh, I don't know, something like calling a person a fool (ahem).
    Oh, and Daniel, in response to your comment of my image holding no true whites, please, if you'll be so kind, open it up in photoshop...
    I'm not going to play that game. I played it once before with someone who was mad that I pointed out their image was way too contrasty. They argued I was wrong by finding a small cluster of pixels which had near middle gray values, even though 99% of the image was within 10% of pure black or pure white. It's just silliness to go looking for pixels with an eye dropper ignoring the overall tone of the image, and it's not relevant to the discussion at hand.
    I believe the image I posted (which is not the most artistic image ever, I admit),
    I'm not commenting on the image as an artistic image. Therefore you do not need to defend or excuse it as such. You posted it as a teaching point for dynamic range. I'm telling you that it doesn't teach what you claimed it does.
    with full detail visible in these whites, as well as actually inside the hairdresser's hut (which surely must have measured EV7 or less) is simply not possible with a single digital capture with current state-of-the-art DSLR technology.
    I thought you directly measured the deepest shadows and brightest highlights? Let us assume for sake of argument that you did not and the range was actually 8.5 stops. Pretty much any DSLR in RAW could handle this. The majority could in JPEG. Velvia couldn't handle that, but most other films could. It's not an excessive range to deal with.
    And I know for a fact that no DSLR can represent that range of tones in a single shot;
    You can easily disprove that assertion by shooting FP4 against a DSLR on a transmission step wedge. And if you don't feel like putting in the effort, just compare FP4's characteristic curve to the curves for modern DSLR RAW images found at dpreview.com.
     
  53. What is it about ND or Polaroid filters that make people not use them?
    A Polaroid filter is an ND filter at once and usually, as in the OP photo, would have cut 1 1/2 to two stops off the so-called "highlights", making post procerssing much easier.
    Digital cameras (and any other "Trannie") exposures cannot easily manage "highlights" no more than slide (film) can.
    Unlike print film, "Trannies" (all) only have about 1 to 1 1/2 stops of exposure latitude (no matter what your maker says) and not even vaunted Photoshop can handle every overexposure: ND and Polaroid filters can 95% of the time.
    Bellyachin' about "blown highlights" because you didn't use an ND or Polaroid filter is like shooting yourself in the foot then complaining about having sore toes.
    Since I do use Polaroid and ND filters, "blown highlights" are not a problem.
     
  54. Daniel Taylor! You da man!
    Harry Joseph: Listen to what DT says. No more JPG. No more Evaluative metering. Learn your camera's control settings and study raw conversion. Problem(s) solved... t
    and while you're getting hammered :^)... clean the sensor!
     
  55. Welcome to the "wonderful" (cough) world of digital.
    Digital is good for 5, at most, 6 EV's worth of tonal range, that's it. Compare that to color, but especially black and white, negative film that can basically record everything from Zone I to Zone IX. Which is why I always default to film for the critical stuff. Digital is ok for casual stuff and as an exposure/lighting check for film but as long as Kodak still makes film and paper, it will always be my default setting.
     
  56. 1) Negative film, both color and B&W, have in general much much wider DR than digital cameras today. With B&W in particular you have control to expand DR with pull developing. TMAX for example can give you 17+ stops pulled 20%.
    2) It is not up to the photographer to control the number of stops in scene. The scene's DR cannot be changed by the photographer's exposure technique.
    3) Digital cameras today have dynamic range good enough DR to handle most creative intents and situations. But they are nowhere near close to the DR of most negative film.
     
  57. This is a test I run to compare the DR of a particularly narrow C41 film (Ektar 100) vs on of the best DR in current DSLRs (Canon 40D):
    The test compares 13 stops in a studio setup.
    http://shutterclick.smugmug.com/gallery/6616619_YJEwK#424020444_n2LsD-X3-LB
    00UzHn-189771584.jpg
     
  58. Harry,
    Here's another way of looking at things: What is the subject in your photos? Is it exposed the way you want?
    And if it is, what does it matter if other parts of the scene are blown or dark?
     
  59. Subject exposed as I want it. Plenty of blown pixels.
    [​IMG]
     
  60. Exactly what I was saying above. If the subject is powerful enough, no onewill give the blown out bits a second thought. Not everyone needs to be Ansel, and I just checked, even HCB had blown out "pixels".
    Good capture, David.
     
  61. [​IMG]One more for content of the photo vs. perfect exposure.[​IMG]
     
  62. If the dynamic range of the camera/film do not limit what you are trying to create it is a non-issue. 2 stops, 4 stops ,... doesn't matter.
     
  63. ok I didn't read all 63 posts above. Here's my $0.02
    1) If you don't like contrasty light then wait untill the light gets better. If you like contrasty light (I do, in some instances) then read on.
    2) Expose to the right, and expose for background. Shoot RAW. USE FILL FLASH to reduce contrast if you can. Shoot towards the sun (or at a 45 deg angle) so your subject is completely shaded and fill foreground subject with flash. This reduces squinty eyes, hat shadows etc.
    3) Use PS shadow/highlight to extract detail. If that's not enough, process your RAW file twice, once for highlights, once for shadows, then blend in PS.
    4) If that fails, try messing with ND grad filters or exposure bracketing.
    Yes indeed film (particularly print) is more forgiving. But the look is still contrasty, and you still get squinty eyes and dark eye sockets. If you want nice soft light then shoot early in the day, on overcast days, or create your own light (flash).
     
  64. Sorry Edmund, I at least need to know what I'm supposed to be looking at to be able to appreciate the image. The arrangement of light and dark shapes is not entirely pleasing to me in your frame. Thus, I'll call it a badly exposed, camera shake, that occured by mistake.
     
  65. Thus, I'll call it a badly exposed, camera shake, that occured by mistake.​
    100% agreement here - I get very irritated by attempts to excuse poor execution by calling it "art".
     
  66. The image was taken from a series I did in a restaurant kitchen. The shooting from the hip style, for me, captured the chaos,
    movement and noise. (Par for the course in this environment.) I love the focus in the face. The concentration surrounded blur and
    contrast. This image worked for me despite it's shortcomings. As it shows the scene as it felt to me. I have others in the series if you
    care to see.
     

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