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Photography Question 

Lowering Contrast For Sunny Landscapes

I shot a wad of Kodax Max 400 and 200 film on a recent trip to sunny climes and was disappointed in the print results. On reflection I realized the main problem is high constrast because of bright sun. This is especially true when focusing on a subject in shadows; the subject is too dark to see well. Almost all of my photos are taken on Automatic setting.

It would be easy to say to come up with my own setting with a light meter, but this isn't always possible because of the amount of time to shoot. Also, trying to shoot a photo where there are not shadows is next to impossible at times, especially where buildings and bridges and other structures are concerned.

What would happen if I chose a softer film type perhaps Sensia or equivalent for landscapes? Or is there another film type I could experiment with to maintain a softer image?

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10/2/2003 12:25:15 PM

Tony Sweet
Tony's Photo Courses:
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  Well, Michael, unfortunately high contrast = high contrast. The only way that I know of is to shoot lower contrast film, e.g. Fuji Provia 100f, Fuji Provia 400, and that will only minimally reduce high, harsh contrast.

The BEST way to reduce contrast is to get out before the sun comes up and after it goes down or on overcast days, or when the sun is very low on the horizon. These are all low contrast situations, and in general, the best times to photograph.

Good luck!

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10/3/2003 5:51:49 AM

Michael McCullough   Try under exposing your images by a shade,and bracket your shots with varying degrees of underexposure.This method has really helped when I've shot sunsets our highly reflective images it will also pump the colour of a sunset!!!!

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10/6/2003 8:41:59 AM

Tracy Dat   How about shooting in digital? I just played around with my D30 last weekend (sunny day) and had the same problem. Can anyone help me on how to set my camera?

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10/6/2003 9:29:41 AM

Gregory LaGrange
BetterPhoto Member Since: 11/11/2003
  I wish I could see an example to give a better answer. But I'll try anyway. Since you said you tried shooting something in the shadows, if you meant you tried something like taking a picture of somebody who was underneath a shade umbrella at a table during the middle of the day I can tell you what may have happened. In a situation like that what happens is the subject is in the shade, but the background is very bright. The camera's meter sees the brightness of the background and says "I need to come down on exposure" so you end up with dark person under the umbrella and well defined stuff out in the sunlight.
The thing about auto exposure is that it dosen't mean correct exposure all the time. Although many a very good, they can be fooled. Auto exp. reads an area here, an area there, some in the middle, and tries to come out with a close average that most of the time works. But if you have a scene where you have a whole bunch of brightness surrounding a small area of shadow or neutral tones, you'll easily come out underexposed.

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11/16/2003 2:15:28 AM

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