Colour of the Sky


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shinken

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#1
Dear Clubsnappers,

Need your advice again. I've been trying to learn how to shoot photos during dawn and dusk, but can never get the colour of the sky correct (the same way my eyes see them). For example, if I leave the WB to auto, the sky will appear much brighter, instead of the deep rich lavender blue that my eyes see. I also experimented with various focus points, ISO, aperture/shutter speed, white balance presets. Sometimes I get a colour that is similar (to what I see), but most of the time not, and I have to experiment and learn within a very short time, since the colour of the sky only stays for around 10 minutes. What could be wrong?

Btw, I'm using 350D.

Any advice is much appreciated. Thanks for your time. :)
 

nemesis32

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I think most DSLR white balance would not be a problem for your scenario... Unless you meter at the sun... then everything will be very bright.... and washed out... Thats my guess
 

student

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The basic problem is that the camera do not see things like your eyes.

When you look at the sky which is brighter, your pupils become smaller (close/stop down). When you look down at the mountains (or something like that) the pupils become bigger (open up). This is how our wonderful visual system works.

But the camera cannot work this way. At the time of shutter release, there is but one aperture. If you close down the lens, the colors of the sky will become brilliant (assuminf of course there is briliant colors to start with!), but the foreground will be in silhoutte.

If you open up the lens so that the foreground has details, then I assure you that the sky will be most uninteresting.

This is a problem of excessive contrast light which our visual system can adjust instantaneously, but the camera cannot.

There are two basic ways to solve this problem.

1 If you use a digital camera, put the camera on a tripod, and make two exposures. One for the foreground and the other for the sky. Then merger the images together

2 In the "old fashion" way, photographers use what is called a neutral density filter to darken the sky, reducing the contrast between the sky and the foreground.
 

student

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BTW, no camera computers can solve this problem, especially with a digital sensor (and positive films) which has a very limited contrast range.

The WB, auto or whatever, maybe able to deal with colors. But it cannot deal with excessive light contrast.
 

student

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#6
nemesis32 said:
I think most DSLR white balance would not be a problem for your scenario... Unless you meter at the sun... then everything will be very bright.... and washed out... Thats my guess
Actually if you just meter the sky and use that setting, you will probably have a better result than if you meter the foreground.
 

damienster

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in my opinion only.... u can set to spot metering and pt to the most beautiful part of the sky. it helps me in that...err for my d70 lah.
 

student

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damienster said:
in my opinion only.... u can set to spot metering and pt to the most beautiful part of the sky. it helps me in that...err for my d70 lah.
That was what I said in post #6. It does not matter what camera you use. If you meter for the sky, you will get a "middle grey effect" and therefore colors. But your foreground will lose details.
 

nemesis32

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#9
student said:
Actually if you just meter the sky and use that setting, you will probably have a better result than if you meter the foreground.
I know... what i mean is he prob meter the SUN...
 

nemesis32

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#10
student said:
That was what I said in post #6. It does not matter what camera you use. If you meter for the sky, you will get a "middle grey effect" and therefore colors. But your foreground will lose details.
Yup... i agree. Most likely is a metering issue. I doubt is because of the WB.
 

shinken

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#11
Metering the sun means having the sun as the focus point in my composition right? I used evalutive metering (don't have spot metering), but also experimented with partial and center weighted. Nope I didn't focus on the sun in my composition. I mean, I had figured out that it would give me the brightest sky and washed out foreground amongst the other options I took. So far, focusing on the darkest clouds would give me the results closer to the human eye. But the richness of the color is lost, just less "contrasty", in the way student had refered to in his post. Lets say the blue in nemesis32's avatar would appear much brighter and lighter blue (mid afternoon look) in the pic, tho the eyes see the same blue (in the avatar).

Will try to get my hands on a pic once I get home.
 

Misery

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#12
its not about where you focus that determines whether you expose a picture correctly. next time, focus on what you want to be in focus, and adjust the aperture/shutter accordingly to get the correct exposure. if you have the sun in your frame, you're going to need to do what student suggested, either use GND or blend shots.

to practise, dont wait for sunrise and sunset, just stick a bare light bulb in the far end of your room and have some shaded areas in the closer end of the room and experiment in that condition until you know how to expose the scene correctly. you'll quickly discover how to get the look that you want to achieve.
 

shinken

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#14
espn: Yes, let's say ur pic is what my eyes see, but when I take it, it turns out to be much brighter (at an earlier time of the day).

Thanks everyone for your answers. I'll try to practise more as suggested and hopefully improve on my mistakes.
 

hongsien

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#15
shinken said:
espn: Yes, let's say ur pic is what my eyes see, but when I take it, it turns out to be much brighter (at an earlier time of the day).

Thanks everyone for your answers. I'll try to practise more as suggested and hopefully improve on my mistakes.
If it most of the time appears brighter, try to underexpose by 1/3 stops.....bracketing it is called, check your manual how to do it. Not sure if this is possible with your camera......I am not using digital :)

HS
 

espn

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HS is right, what I did to get the above shot was to step down the aperture + -EV on the camera body. :)
 

shinken

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Thanks. I tried underexposing shots too, and I guess that was what worked for the 'ok' pictures, as I was manipulating so many settings for different shots, i can;t exactly remember what i did to make the 'ok' shots work. thanks again. :)
 

student

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#18
espn said:
HS is right, what I did to get the above shot was to step down the aperture + -EV on the camera body. :)
The inherent contrast of any scene CANNOT be altered by opening or stepping down any aperture. What opening or closing sown aperture achieves is to shift the entire contrast higher or lower.

Contrast can only be altered in color photography during post-processing. In B&W photography, contrast can be changed by using filters such as an orange or red filter to darken the sky at the time of exposure, or by dodging and burning during printing.

The reason why your picture works is because the city skyline formed a relatively small portion of the image, and the very bright lights from the buildings add interest by giving illumination to the buildings. But look at the patch of land on the left lower corner. This was reduced to a textureless darkness. Again it works because it forms but a very small part of the image. If this patch of meaningless darkness occupies say a third of the image, then your image will not work that well.

If shinken is willing to allow the foreground to be reduced to a formless silhoutte, then stopping down the aperture by 2-3 stops, will definitely give a very nice color to the sky. But If he wants the foreground (assuming it occupies a significant an important portion of the image) to have texture and details, then he will have to use other tools . Stopping down aperture by -EV will not achieve his purpose.
 

student

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hongsien said:
If it most of the time appears brighter, try to underexpose by 1/3 stops.....bracketing it is called, check your manual how to do it. Not sure if this is possible with your camera......I am not using digital :)

HS
HS, bracketting will not change the inherent contrast in any scene.

Bracketting can be used in almost any camera apart from strict P&S. It does not matter whether the camera is digital or analogue.
 

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