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Photography Question 
J. Prescott

How to approach high contrast conditions

  High Contrast question
High Contrast question
© J. Prescott
Canon EOS D30 Digi...
i submitted a pic w/ similar question, but I don't know where it wound up. I had an opportunity to shoot some ocean pics, but when I got back from shooting them, nearly all of them were out of whack 1 way or the other - either they were underexposed, except for the waves, or they were overexposed - especially the waves. genrally, I would have been shooting with as wide an aperture as I could get, & trying to adjust the shutter speed. but the waves were very bright, & I had a difficult time of it. would I have sen any benefit going w/ a smaller aperture & resulting shutter speed? I offer my pic as one of the better pics I wound up w/, but even this pic was heavily adjusted in PS. as an example of what I would have LIKED to see, I offer Donna L. Cuic's picture entered 12/31 named Cuevo del Indio. I see it is possible - I just need to learn what I could have done better. thanx

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1/2/2005 7:58:30 PM

Bob Cammarata
BetterPhoto Member Since: 7/17/2003
  This looks as if it were shot around mid-day.
To handle the differences in light values, your best bet would be to shoot early (or late) in the day, when the sun is at a lower angle to the horizon.
Try to position yourself with the sun at your back and meter off a deep-blue portion of the distant sky.
The wave crests will still over-expose a little, but within acceptable parameters, and everything else in the scene will look right.
What aperture/shutter speed combination you select would depend upon your ISO setting.
In this scenario, at ISO-200, a setting of 1/250 at f-16 should be about right. Your depth of field would be good, and the shutter speed would be fast enough to freeze the action of the waves. (Just remember to keep the sun behind you whenever possible.)

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1/3/2005 5:24:05 PM

J. Prescott   you are correct in that it was roughly mid-day. to compound matters, it was in Hawaii, meaning it was closer to the equater - more direct sunlite than in the mainland. I appreciate your response, Bob. unfortunately, my time was usually limited & I did not have luxury of going to any one place at optimal times, so I had to take what I had. & I know that there will be other times that I will be in the same boat, so I am looking for my best options. in the pic by Donna Cuic that I offered as an example, to me, that pic also looks like it was taken mid-day, so I am sure it is possible to get better results. thanx again for your feedback . . .

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1/3/2005 8:19:32 PM

Bob Cammarata
BetterPhoto Member Since: 7/17/2003
I took a moment to examine Donna's Photo, "Cuevo del Indio".
It looks like she handled the high-contrast situation by metering off the blue water.
The exposure resulted in what looks like a 1 stop over-exposure of the sky. She did a nice job hiding most of the sky behind the rocks so it's less noticeable.
Her wave crests over-exposed a little too but they are much smaller than the ones on your beach and are therefore, not her primary point of interest.
In your scenario,...if it comes up again, try metering the wave crests and open a half-stop over that setting,...then tilt the camera angle lower to eliminate most of the sky. Ive used this method for shooting waterfalls on sunny days and have found that anything over a half-stop over will wash out the falls completely.
(A polarizing filter might help also.)

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1/4/2005 2:49:33 AM

Maynard  McKillen   Dear J.P.
Well, Bob stole my thunder with his last sentence, so I'll echo his advice. Try a polarizer. Depending on the angle between the sun and the lens axis, you may be able to reduce the amount of light reflected from the wave crests and the sky.

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1/20/2005 3:27:25 PM

J. Prescott   thanks bob & maynard for your responses. I won't soon have another opportunity to shoot ocean waves like I did in my question, but I will hold onto your advice for the next time I run into a high contrast situation & see if I can't get a better result. I have a polarizer, too - I just haven't gained enough experience when I NEED to pull it out & use it.

thanx again.


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1/20/2005 6:07:39 PM

Donna L. Cuic
BetterPhoto Member Since: 12/5/2003
  You know I just came across this discussion so I thought I might add to it. I actually got a little lucky with my photo as it is way before I knew what I was doing. I didn't know to meter off the water, it was just dumb luck.

And now seeing the discussion I went and looked at my photo in my gallery and having taken several photoshop courses and having CS I think I'll reopen that original photo and see if I can make it any better. I may be able to salvage the detail in the sky using layers and masking, I think I will do that in the next day or two.

If I remember correctly I was using a polarizer but I didn't really know how to use the polarizer, again it was just dumb luck. My photo was taken with my old camera, the Minolta Dimage 7Hi and the polarizer causes some vignetting. And it was taken pretty much mid-day in the harsh light. Oh, now I am excited I can't wait to use what I have learned in the PS Toolbox classes on my photo because I just loved the photo.

Now that I know a little more about what I am doing I need to go back to that place and spend a day from sun up to sun down, that place was truly incredible.

Thanks for the discussion. I'll post again here when I have fixed it again and posted it again on my gallery.


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6/23/2005 12:01:05 PM

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