Whats the best way to cope with lack of dynamic range ?

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#1
Hello all,

First thing to point out is I come from a film back ground where lack of dynamic range is much less of a problem, I have recently started carrying an old Point and press Digi camera with me at all times which under the right conditions works well but lack of dynamic range ruins a a fairly large number of shots, with this in mind I decided to buy a Sony A6000 although the shots from this camera are of a better quality lack of dynamic range is still a big problem. Is there any tricks to help with this ? Here are a couple of examples the sun was behind me an I was standing in slight shade from the trees behind.

Sony A6000
DSC01861.JPG

Kodak point and press

102_4210.JPG
 
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#2
The first trick is to save raw image files then process tham in a raw converter if you're not already doing this. This'll allow you to reclaim some highlights and shadows that an in-camera jpg engine will have sacrificed.

Any camera used on full auto has no idea of what your intention is.

And I think that generally the later the camera the better its dr is likely to be.

Your main problem with the images shown seems to be that the skies have blown.

Normally even when shooting raw it's necessary to expose to protect the highlights, because they become un-recoverable at some point.
 
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#3
Thanks for the reply droj much appreciated. I must admit that I've had the camera set to save jpeg images only so that's my first fault ! It normally is skies that are the problem how far would you suggest under exposing as a starting point ?
 
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#4
Hard to say - every scene is different. Can you turn on 'blinkies' in the vf, or when in image review after taking? Although that's a rough and ready assistance.
 

StephenM

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#5
Digital is like slide film; blown highlights are gone. Using raw should give you an extra stop (or perhaps more) of range. You don't say what image processing software you use. From experience, I can say that some will extract copious detail from completely black objects (in the jpg) when you use the raw file.

I've also found problems with blown foregrounds in some landscape photos with bright flowers which come out white.

Think of your camera as the equivalent of a box camera, which can give good results if used within its limitations.

:film:
 
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#6
A blue sky is safely in the mid-tone range, its white cloud we have to watch! This protection of highlights business equates to what was done with slide film. Ha! -Stephen's just said that as I typed!

Tree bark and green leaves can also be surpringly reflective. It's fine to blow point highlights like light sources - it's bigger areas of detail-less white that get ugly.

My own method with aperture priority auto is to use the exposure comp dial a lot, often by a stop or even more. More rarely do I twirl it in the other direction.
 
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#7
Thanks for the reply droj much appreciated. I must admit that I've had the camera set to save jpeg images only so that's my first fault ! It normally is skies that are the problem how far would you suggest under exposing as a starting point ?
If your camera has any kind of live view (the A6000 will) then use that to let you see what's happening to different parts of the image before you press the shutter. If I'm working in high contrast lighting then I'll normally meter off something brightish, like a grey cloud or part-way between the dark and bright areas, lock the exposure and then recompose & shoot. Generally it's better to under-expose & lift shadows when using a modern sensor. As Stephen said, you can sometimes pull a lot from apparently black areas of a RAW file.

If you need to cope with very wide dynamic range on an older camera then you'll need to fix the camera in place on a tripod & make multiple exposures of the scene +/- the metered value, then combine them in post using HDR software.
 
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#8
Your A6000 should have a DR of around 13 stops so should be able to capture this scene using a Raw file and exposing correctly. If you have to stick to JPEG your could take 3-5 exposures and combine them. Looking at the scene, if I had been capturing this, I probably would have used spot metering on the far greenery in sunlight. You may also have had to make shadow and highlight adjustments in the Raw editor.

Dave
 
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#9
I can see a couple of good possibilities there ...

Three windows (three is always a good numbers) rusty tin, rotting wood, shards of glass. In glorious colour.

More of the same ... with a single window, brambles, chimney (I think). Great contrasting colours and textures.

But that's just me, and the sort of shots I like.
 
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#10
Thanks for all the input everyone,much appreciated. As I visit this area often with my pack of dogs I will attempt the same photos again ( If I can do so with similar light)
Save in raw and try a few shots at various exposures I may even try a couple of film shots as a comparison. These shots were not that important really but I was left really disappointed when I took the camera on a digital only trip ( my first) to Cornwall and came away with a really low keeper rate (due very likely to my own lack of skill with a digital camera) I would prefer to get it right in camera really as I really don't like sitting in front of a computer screen when it comes to photography. I'll post up my results. Thanks again.
 
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#11
Just to show the camera can produce some really nice shots ,taken an hour or so later about a mile away. Highlights are a little blown in the top left and the top of the hanger but where there is a lower dynamic range it works really well.

fokker.jpg
 
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#12
I would prefer to get it right in camera really as I really don't like sitting in front of a computer screen when it comes to photography
Just as with film photography, very high contrast situations require a different approach to printing from the the digital equivalent on an enprint from a machine. There may be an HDR setting that will give you an advantage over film, but if the light is against you then you need to do the work.

*edit*
What I should say too is that getting it right in camera to manage a high contrast scene may look disappointing at first viewing until work has been done.

Before
High contrast-2.jpg

After
High contrast.jpg

The tough part is keeping it believable.
 
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#13
The thing with raws is that they are quite elastic, though they still have limits. But yes they require time in front of a screen. A jpg degrades quickly if you start working on it, and neither does it have the inbuilt resources of highlight and shadow that a raw has. Thus if you lower the exposure of a jpg to protect the highlights, you're likely to run into trouble recovering the shadows.

On my modest level a blown highlight area usually means the bin for that image, since (1) it's unsightly, and (2) it doesn't represent the level of craft that I aspire to. In other words, I can't live with it - it's a failure. I've sometimes seen successful images with blown highlights, but usually it needs considerable artistic chutzpah to pull it off.
 
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#14
On my modest level a blown highlight area usually means the bin for that image, since (1) it's unsightly, and (2) it doesn't represent the level of craft that I aspire to. In other words, I can't live with it - it's a failure. I've sometimes seen successful images with blown highlights, but usually it needs considerable artistic chutzpah to pull it off.
Exactly my thinking droj
 
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#15
d300 settings were : -.3 or -.6 exposure, raw, max detail/file size. Did mean less photos on the 4gb card.. say 300 max.
Leica I am still experimenting with, as it had a classic expsoure (which always got ambient light no matter where I wanted the spot exposure) so I've recently changed it to advanced. Still raw as I liked the more flexibility of the file... for hdr you should take three... but you can use just one and change raw processing to bring out different detail areas with your fave hdr putting it all together... to try and save the sky and still get the dark details...

So : raw, -exposure, low iso if possible and keep trying different setting depending on your lighting
 
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