Bracketing Help

existent

Well-known Member
I started using bracketing for my shots now, but I am having problems with shots that include sky.

I either get the blue sky color but under exposed subject, or over exposed sky and the right exposure for the subject.

I tried the automated HDR merge tool in photoshop to combine two shots but it didn't work like I imagined it would :D.

So, my question is, how can I get the blue sky together with the correct exposure on my subjects without too complicated photoshop effects?
 

SomeVorn

Active Member
The main problem is that the range of light is very wide, especially on bright summer days. The strength of light from the sky is much stronger than the light reflecting from your subject.

For landscapes - always shoot in RAW format, giving you more flexibility. ND Grad filters are the real key here, giving you more control of the amount of light entering your lens and more importantly, you can choose which areas of the frame you want to effectively darken.

Lightroom/aperture and other Processing programs allow you do to recreate this effects digitally - some work better than others but the majority of people would agree - if you can get it right in the camera, it will look miles better.

For portraits this is even more tricky. As long as you aren't photographing at midday, then you can almost guarantee that if you have the sun shining into the face of your subject, that the strength of light reflecting from the sky and from your subject are actually quite close. The main issue with this is that front lighting using summer sunlight isn't flattering and the subject will no doubt wince at the sun.

I'd use:

Fill flash - expose for the blue sky and rely on the flash to light your subject.

Reflectors - my personal weapon of choice, good for serious photography moments, not so good if you are only having a laugh in a field/park etc - because you need a few seconds to set up. Again, expose for the blue sky and use the reflectors to boost the amount of light reflecting from your subject.

Bracketing for combining in photoshop is only good when used with a tripod/stable base by the way, the steadiest hands in the world might just get decent results but will still look poor when compared to those you will get from a tripod.
 

existent

Well-known Member
Thanks for the tips SomeVorn.

Yea, first thing I tried was to increase the exposure in lightroom, but as you said, it does have some noise in it as a result.

I never thought of using flash. I will definitely keep it in mind and try it next time I go out shooting. But I'm guessing flash will only work on short distance though unless I get a powerful flash.. :confused:

Reflectors seem to be a bit too much hustle for me at this moment, but again, I'd imagine you wouldn't be able to cover a large area with reflectors.
 

SomeVorn

Active Member
Yeah reflectors aren't ideal for everything.

Portraits - reflectors are unbeatable. The 5 in 1 kind are cheap and I have one wherever I go now. Flash = a close second and probably equal when used by someone who knows what they are doing. I'd recommend a flash because they do give you more flexibility - but I found that reflectors force you to challenge your understanding of light and dynamic range - I can now look at a scene/subject and instantly tell that I'd need multiple bracketed exposures to get it right etc (or a diffuser to take the edge off the light)

Landscapes + architecture - ND Grad filters / HDR (or bracketing on tripod etc).

The other thing I'm sure you know but i'll mention anyway - time of day. You shoot a frontlit landscape at 6am/8:30pm (dawn/dusk) with a circular polarising filter, I'd say you'll get much better results - you'll certainly not need HDR, which as you have no doubt seen on these forums, isn't for everyone. Its a tool, a tool that you won't need if you shoot a landscape at dawn.
 
Last edited:

existent

Well-known Member
Yeah reflectors aren't ideal for everything.

Portraits - reflectors are unbeatable. The 5 in 1 kind are cheap and I have one wherever I go now. Flash = a close second and probably equal when used by someone who knows what they are doing. I'd recommend a flash because they do give you more flexibility - but I found that reflectors force you to challenge your understanding of light and dynamic range - I can now look at a scene/subject and instantly tell that I'd need multiple bracketed exposures to get it right etc (or a diffuser to take the edge off the light)

Landscapes + architecture - ND Grad filters / HDR (or bracketing on tripod etc).

The other thing I'm sure you know but i'll mention anyway - time of day. You shoot a frontlit landscape at 6am/8:30pm (dawn/dusk) with a circular polarising filter, I'd say you'll get much better results - you'll certainly not need HDR, which as you have no doubt seen on these forums, isn't for everyone. Its a tool, a tool that you won't need if you shoot a landscape at dawn.

I'm not interested in portraits that much so far, so will try the flash next time. :smashin:

I'd rather try multiple shots to get the best exposure than come home and spend long time fixing it.. :D
 

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