BetterPhoto Q&A
Category: New Questions

Photography Question 
Gloria Pidwerbecki
BetterPhoto Member Since: 3/21/2004
 

Overexposed Landscapes Using Slow Shutter Speeds


 
 
I have a Sony Digital DXC-F717 camera and love to take pictures of waterfalls. I aspire for the "silk" effect of the water which I have learned to achieve by using a slow shutter speed with a tripod. The problem I seem to have is that when I lower the shutter speed, the picture gets very overexposed, bleached out to the point sometimes that there is no image. I've tried to use shutter priority and fully manual and played around, with little success. I've tried underexposing the picture to compensate too. Helps a little but the colours are not so true. I've shot with a polarizer to darken it a bit, but I'm still not getting the results that I want. I've been quite a buff with my Minolta X7a film camera, but I'm at a loss with this new digital camera and it's f-stop limitations. Any suggestions? I would like to stay as much away from fixing my pictures in photoshop as possible, but have been doing so in the past. What am I doing wrong? Are there other filters I should be exploring? Thanks in advance for your suggestions.


To love this question, log in above
3/8/2005 4:20:30 PM

 
Bob Cammarata
BetterPhoto Member Since: 7/17/2003
  I think in this case, the sun may be illuminating the scene too harshly, and not allowing you to saturate the colors and textures of the waterfalls with your long exposures.

If you have a choice, try going back on a cloudy, dreary day and see if you get better results.


To love this comment, log in above
3/8/2005 5:06:01 PM

 
Gloria Pidwerbecki
BetterPhoto Member Since: 3/21/2004
 
 
 
That is an option I guess, but I would love to have the clear blue sky in the background. The pictures are a little less washed out, but the dynamics are also lost a bit.


To love this comment, log in above
3/8/2005 5:18:42 PM

 
Gloria Pidwerbecki
BetterPhoto Member Since: 3/21/2004
  Thank you for responding Bob. I can see by your gallery that you speak from experience. Nice shots. On one of them you use an 81B warming filter. What does that do? Will it help with my dilemma? I've added 3 pics in my gallery as examples of what I'm talking about, maybe these could prompt some suggestions from yourself or others who may be reading this. I'm new at this, first time posting, long time viewer. Not sure quite the protocol. Thanks for any input.


To love this comment, log in above
3/8/2005 5:29:24 PM

 
Gloria Pidwerbecki
BetterPhoto Member Since: 3/21/2004
  Thank you for responding Bob. I can see by your gallery that you speak from experience. Nice shots. On one of them you use an 81B warming filter. What does that do? Will it help with my dilemma? I've added 3 pics in my gallery as examples of what I'm talking about, maybe these could prompt some suggestions from yourself or others who may be reading this. I'm new at this, first time posting, long time viewer. Not sure quite the protocol. Thanks for any input.


To love this comment, log in above
3/8/2005 5:29:32 PM

 
Bob Cammarata
BetterPhoto Member Since: 7/17/2003
  The warming filters I use (81-A and 81-B), help to cut some of the blue-cast associated with shooting during overcast conditions or in deep shade.
(As a slide film shooter, the blue is even more pronounced when I scan to digital.)

Warming filters would not help to keep shots from over-exposing. They are only beneficial in balancing existing light on a scene which has been properly exposed.

I checked out your Gallery photos, and it looks like a bright, sunlit day was the cause for the over-exposure of the falls.
As a general rule of thumb,...if you meter off the brightest part of the rapids,...anything over 1/2 stop over-exposure, will "wash out" the highlights.


To love this comment, log in above
3/8/2005 6:04:59 PM

 
Andrew Laverghetta
BetterPhoto Member Since: 9/13/2004
  If you want to get the sky in the background as well, you'll probably just have to get a few poloriser or neutral density filters. This is probably the only way you're going to be able to get close to what you're looking for. Remember, if you're taking a shot in broad daylight using ISO 100, a shot at even f11 will be about 1/125 second. If you can use an SLR some zoom lenses have can have very small apertures in the telephoto range. Hope this helps!


To love this comment, log in above
3/8/2005 6:28:11 PM

 
Gloria Pidwerbecki
BetterPhoto Member Since: 3/21/2004
  Thanks for the additional information, Bob.

Andrew, you mention a few polarizer or neutral density filters, could you please explain a little more? Do you use more than one polarizer at a time? What does the neutral density filter do? I've just played a bit with special effects filters with my film camera I don't know what they do for my new digital camera. I thank you all for your help!


To love this comment, log in above
3/8/2005 6:38:44 PM

 
Andrew Laverghetta
BetterPhoto Member Since: 9/13/2004
  I'm hoping that your camera has the treads on the front of the lens so you can screw on different filters. Neutral density filters appear gray when you just look at them, but they don't do anything to the color of the picture. They just let you shoot with slower shutter speeds. Think of it as sunglasses for your lens. The reason why I said maybe a few (or more like 2) is because they usually can reduce the shutter speed about 2 stops. You can also buy filters that reduce 1 stop and 3 stops.
With filters that screw on the end of the lens, usually they have threads on the other side of them too that allow more filters to be added. Just make sure that when adding more than one polarizer, you don't supersaturate the color as screwing more on will probably turn the bottom filter so you will need to correct once you get them secure.

Check out this site as well. It's on bhphotovideo.com and also explains what a neutral density filter does along with giving a rough of what it does to a picture you take. Hope this helps!

http://www.bhphotovideo.com/bnh/controller/home?O=productlist&A=details&Q=&sku=23302&is=REG


To love this comment, log in above
3/8/2005 7:15:29 PM

 
Jon Close
BetterPhoto Member Since: 5/18/2000
  The F717, like many digital point & shoots, has a minimum aperture of only f/8. That's because the lens is very short focal length, only ~9mm - 48mm (giving equivalent field of view of 38mm-190mm). At f/8 the lens opening is effectively only 1.1mm at the wide-angle setting. Any smaller and the image will be degraded by diffraction.

As Andrew explained, your solution is to use the lowest ISO setting, and add one or more neutral density filters to cut enough light to get the shutter speed you want.


To love this comment, log in above
3/8/2005 7:32:37 PM

 
Gloria Pidwerbecki
BetterPhoto Member Since: 3/21/2004
  Thank you both Andrew and Jon so much! The ND filters sound like my next step. Feeling a bit excited it now - wanting to try it out. Thanks Andrew for the link. Learning more and more each day. I'll try the ND filters next time. Would I use a polarizer with it? Any other suggestions?


To love this comment, log in above
3/8/2005 7:40:19 PM

 
Andrew Laverghetta
BetterPhoto Member Since: 9/13/2004
  If you can get the neutral density filters, I would just use those. Polarizers might get a little too complicated unless you only use one to bump up the color saturation or get rid of some glare on the falls.


To love this comment, log in above
3/8/2005 7:53:08 PM

 

BetterPhoto Member
  shoot raw, unexposure compensation and meter the green


To love this comment, log in above
3/8/2005 9:19:26 PM

 
Gregory LaGrange
BetterPhoto Member Since: 11/11/2003
gregorylagrange.org
  I don't think you'll get what you're looking for just with a ND filter. trying for the milky water dosen't work well for noon day light because with the whiteness from the turbulence, which is what you're trying to get, you're getting all the reflective highlights blurred in with it.
A ND filter isn't going to cut down on the reflective glare, just make it a longer shutter speed to record it.


To love this comment, log in above
3/9/2005 1:36:41 AM

 
Andrew Laverghetta
BetterPhoto Member Since: 9/13/2004
  Wouldn't a polarizer help with the glare? I think I wrote that in my most recent response.


To love this comment, log in above
3/9/2005 8:10:09 AM

 
Kerry L. Walker   An ND filter will cut down on the light transmission by however many stops the filter is rated. A polarizing filter will also cut down the light transmission a little. try adding an ND filter with a polarizer on top of it. The ND will cut down on the light, allowing you to use a slower shutter speed and stay within the bounds of your minimum f/stop. The polarizer will let you darken the sky and cut down on glare, depending on the direction of the sun.


To love this comment, log in above
3/9/2005 9:22:13 AM

 
Gregory LaGrange
BetterPhoto Member Since: 11/11/2003
gregorylagrange.org
  Yes to Andrew, I was just saying a ND isn't going to get her the effect she wanted in that same situation.
She needs to do what walker said if she's going to do try doing it that way again.
But it still may not get it. If there's not enough trees to put the falls in the shade at some point during the early or late day, she ought to go right before sunrise or after sunset and try an extra long exposure.


To love this comment, log in above
3/9/2005 11:08:44 AM

 
Kerry L. Walker   Gloria, I think you just got some of the best advice you will get. The answer I gave you will help some of the technical aspects of what you are trying to do but the suggestion Gregory gave is the best idea. The best times of the day to shoot are around sunrise and sunset. You will get some of the best light of the day and some of the most beautiful skys. If you want to get some good photos at any time of the day, take my advice. If you want to get some GREAT photos, take Gregory's. You won't be disappointed.


To love this comment, log in above
3/9/2005 1:02:00 PM

 
Kerry L. Walker   Gloria, I think you just got some of the best advice you will get. The answer I gave you will help some of the technical aspects of what you are trying to do but the suggestion Gregory gave is the best idea. The best times of the day to shoot are around sunrise and sunset. You will get some of the best light of the day and some of the most beautiful skys. If you want to get some good photos at any time of the day, take my advice. If you want to get some GREAT photos, take Gregory's. You won't be disappointed.


To love this comment, log in above
3/9/2005 1:02:10 PM

 
Kerry L. Walker   Don't know why it posted twice. I didn't submit twice. Oh well, that's computers.


To love this comment, log in above
3/9/2005 1:03:41 PM

 
Gloria Pidwerbecki
BetterPhoto Member Since: 3/21/2004
  Thank you all for the great advice! You have all given me lots to try. I will let you know how it goes. Hopefully the weather will cooperate enough here in freezing and frosty Southern Ontario this weekend to try your suggestions.

Of those who shoot waterfalls, in your experience and opinion, what is better, sunrise or sunset?

What a great experience posting my first question! You have all been fabulous! I hope you will let me pick your brains again! I'll let you know the results! Thanks again!


To love this comment, log in above
3/9/2005 3:13:54 PM

 
Kerry L. Walker   Try both times. You will get different results and see which you like. Be careful about picking my brain too much. Not much left.


To love this comment, log in above
3/9/2005 3:16:32 PM

 
Log in to respond or ask your own question.