Landscape - clouds bright / fields bright OR clouds atmospheric / fields too dark

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smaulpaul

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Just been out today taking some shots of the flooding in our valley. I seem to come across a common problem which I will describe as follows:

One shot will turn out with very nice bright foreground and bright fields but the dark, moody clouds turn almost white too - ruining the shot.

The other will come out with a great, dull cloudy sky but the fields and foreground are too dark to make out details like farms etc - again ruining the shot.

I can't get no happy medium. I use a Panasonic DMC FZ-5 and although it is no digital SLR it does me well for what I can afford.

Is there anyway I can correct my shots afterwards? Is this what HDR does?

I have taken two shots at different settings, one with perfect clounds and one with perfect fields. Can I correct the photo and blend the two problems?

Hope this makes sense!

thanks
 
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I don't know how better to explain this so I copied this from Wikipedia:


That would solve your problem but you would have to spend lots of money on either lightning or image editing apps.

If you post pictures, people here can try to correct them.
 
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Jan 23, 2007
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If you still need help ...

You could take multiple image one exposed for the clouds and another exposed for the fields and merge them in photograph editing software.

Or...

If you camera takes RAW files, take one image in RAW mode then again in photograph editing software that can manipulate RAW files you can alter the exposure and lightness without taking too much definition out of the image.

Ben
 
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This is a pretty good tutorial giving the basics of merging the two (or more) images if you have CS2. http://www.luminous-landscape.com/tutorials/hdr.shtml

With two shots having one with perfect clouds and one with perfect fields it is pretty easy to merge them yourself in any good image editor. Both images will be the same size in pixels from the camera. Make a new empty canvas or whatever your editor calls it with exactly the same dimensions in pixels. Engage the snap function and drag both images into the new canvas. They will merge perfectly on top of one another.

Put the one with the least area well exposed on top and just erase that part that is better on the one under it. You can use a soft eraser or any selection tool with a little feather followed by hitting the delete key. The magic wand or color select usually works well for the sky.

If you don’t have two images you can usually do a lot with an image editor. Shadow/highlight in CS or later is a good start. If you don’t have and editor with Shadow/highlight look for a tutorial on “contrast masking”. It works almost as well. Blown highlights are just gone, but you can usually make a sky that is too bright look decent. Or just replace it with a better one.
 

Noyb

Jay
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smaulpaul said:
Is there anyway I can correct my shots afterwards?
Most likely .. can you attach a worst sample here ???
 
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HDR is definately a solution here.

However, it is more than likely the case that you could focus the camera half-way between the clouds and the ground, or set the f-stop to a setting where neither one is bright, but both are mid-range and dark. It may be difficult to find, but on many camears you can set the f-stop (or at least the over-exposure setting, not much diff on a digital) so that its more even.

Then pull it into photoshop, and you can use adjustment layers and paint on which colors you want highligthed, which you want muted, and as each adju. layer has a mask built in, you can literally paint the adjustments onto the original image. best part is, you dont like the changes, delete the adjustment layer and try again!

I have found that even when I'm doing HDR imaging, i still need to add a ton of adjustment layers to bring the colors and brigthness up to full.
 

buck52

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Howdy...

Just a couple of thoughts...most have been said...

For the shots that have already been taken, you can try a shadow/highlite tool or contrast masking as slipe pointed out...
Setting the f~stop, as ioTus suggested does essentially nothing other than darkening to whole image which can be done with shutter speed as well... It does effect the DOF but that is not in question here...

The two shot method, or bracketing, both of which I do use, can produce the best results if done on a tripod, so the images are in fact identical... then merge in Photoshop or whatever...

Raw is a great option if that is available to you, but you must still be careful to not blow the highlites...blown/overexposed highlite are not their for any RAW convertor or image editor to see/recover...

I have not looked thru your cameras specs so I'm not sure if this even applies but... look into filters
My prefered method for the situation you discribe is to use a graduated neutral density filter on the lens when I take the picture... I have had people say why bother with a filter when it can be done in Photpshop? My answer is... I take almost no time dinking around in Photoshop, and the end result is a print that is always better than ones that have had a multitude of adjustment layer done to them...

buck
 

smaulpaul

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thanks a lot for the replies. definately some things to think about here. I do like the sound of the filter seen as I dont know much about editing and I dont get much time on the PC.

I will attach the offending pics.

The first one is of perfect fields but stupidly bright skies (they were dull when I was there taking the shot)
 

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Noyb

Jay
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I was about ready to give up on you :D
Just some quick fixes in Photoshop using the levels adjust and the Shadow/Hightlite tool.
could have done the same thing in Elements.

The sky is too far gone in #3 to fix it simply .. but the bright sky effects on the rest of the image can be touched up.

Is this what you're looking for ??
 

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Noyb

Jay
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Taking #2 as an example …

The first step I used … was to adjust the levels.
The picture is shifted toward the Black .. and by moving the white carrot it can be stretched back to the true white level.

Then, using the Shadow/Highlites Tool .. The brightness of the shadow (dark) area can be brightened.

Like Beauty … These adjustments are in the eye of the beholder … and your monitor settings.
 

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buck52

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Noyb said:
The sky is too far gone in #3 to fix it simply ...
Number 3 is actually by far the easiest to fix... just crop the sky portion out... It's the best of the three pictures by far... the sky only hurt that picture... ;) There is detail in the hills as well as the critter in the foreground...

buck
 

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