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Went for a walk yesterday - took the camera with me in case I saw any pictures along the way. I really must get around to buying something like that kit bag I had on the day of the photography ramble as I can only take one lens along, so I took my normal walkaround lens.

On the subject of the photography ramble, SWMBO was asking when I am planning to do the next one. I confess, what with everything else that's been going on I'd really not had time to think about it but, the subject having been raised, I am open to suggestions....

Here are some of the shots I took whilst out. Sorry about the sky not being blue, but then again, the real sky wasn't blue and I haven't mastered the art of RAW yet so these are all JPEG's off camera, though I did shoot them all in RAW plus JPEG so when the day comes that I have the software and skills to get the best from RAW I can re-visit some of these images.

walk1xd5.jpg

w600.png

ISO200, 45mm, f6.3, 1/1250

walk2wa0.jpg

w402.png

ISO200, 24mm, f7.1, 1/160

walk3gg2.jpg

w402.png

ISO200, 24mm, f5.0, 1/60

walk4hz1.jpg

w402.png

ISO1600, 24mm, f18.0, 1/60

walk5nx5.jpg

w402.png

ISO400, 24mm, f7.1, 1/160

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Hi Simon

you must have left the bed early there looks like in the first pic around 7am fantastic shots mate

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Wrong end of the day Jonny - the first one is time stamped at 1700hrs and the last one 25 mins later. I am pleased to say I had definitely been out of bed some while by then!

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Simon, well done for making the effort to take a photographic walk on a work day. I especially like the one of the warm light on the church tower. The first one with the shafts of light will work a lot better when you can process the Raw file to optimise the contrast - the JPEG has blown away a lot of the subtlety.

Bruce

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The trouble is the RAW software that ships with the camera only applies its settings to the entire image. I need something which will be able to apply selective settings to different parts of the image.

The image isn't far out actually - the sky was not very blue at it. It was whitish and hazy. The appearance it takes on in most of the images is not far off reality, particularly in the one you refer to as the sky was brightest in that direction, owing to facing due west (older churches always point east to The Holy Land). It wasn't the lighting conditions I had hoped for, but I will try to do this kind of thing more often - lack of boat has exposed lack of life (!) and I'm tired of seeing the inside of the house quite so much.

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I wouldn't expect a blue sky in that one Simon. It's very atmospheric, with nice distance haze, and I certainly wouldn't be trying to make the sky bluer in a RAW conversion. I'd be recovering some of the shadow detail on the left hand side that the JPEG processing has thrown away, and actually trying to make it a little less contrasty and more low key to match what I imagine you saw. It needs subtlety rather than full-on saturation and contrast, and I think a good RAW conversion (with, as you say, a little local adjustment) would also bring out those shafts of light coming through the trees on the left hand third and emphasise the lead in lines in the ridges at the bottom left of the frame. I'd also consider cropping to a more panoramic format, just above the right hand tree, which I think would be about a 6x12 aspect ratio - it's always good to try to make an image work within the aspect ratio that your film or sensor dictates, but sometimes it's better to crop to match the composition that you were dealt by nature. A very personal view, as all these things are!

Bruce

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Fear not Bruce I have commited to getting Simon some RAW Conversion software so he can appreciate the flexibility of shooting RAW it will probably be at very very special 'buckshee mates rates'. :-D (edit to make it clear I am talking about multi user license product - of course :o )

He can then experience what you are outlining at first hand :clap

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Blame me for that Bruce, I wanted shadows and contrast and I wanted the church etc to be silhouettes. If I am reading the EXIF data correctly that shot was taken two stops down. I was trying to be creative - obviously I didn't do a very good job. :(

I'll have a hunt around - if I stop down I normally take a shot at the metered norm first, just in case. However, it looks like I have not retained a copy on the computer (i.e. it wasn't selected as a keeper). Even so, the original should still be on the memory card as I tend to clear them only when space is required. I'll have both shots in RAW format kicking about as well.

You may recall me mentioning that I've found when using the Canon EOS400D that I sometimes use that it does tend to favour brighter exposures which preserves a little more shadow detail but at the expense of blowing the highlights. The Sony tends to favour slightly darker exposures retaining highlight detail much better but at the cost of some shadow detail. I have to say I favour the Sony approach as blown highlights are far more distracting and obvious than loss of shadow detail. The camera does, however, have an advanced DRO mode which adjusts processing slightly (to user selectable levels) to try to preserve shadow detail - but it was switched off.

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Has the Sony got the facility to 'Bracket' Simon?

That way you have a number of exposures from the same shot and have better chnace picking what works. Canon have this feature but I confess not to know if the Sony has.

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Yes indeed it has Perry. I never think to use it though - and on this occasion I deliberately dialled things down as I was after a particular effect so I don't know that I'd have used the exposure bracketing anyway. There was quite a considerable haze (as is apparent where the sun shows through the trees) and I felt that if I let the exposure be too bright that the church and distant trees would become quite washed out and I wanted more of a silhouette. I was prepared to risk losing shadow detail for that.

Anyway, I've had a look at the full resolution shot of the church, rather than the resampled version displayed on this site and some detail is still visible in the shadow areas, so if it's still there on the JPEG then extracting it from RAW shouldn't be an issue. I even had a look at the RAW file for the normally exposed version. As detailed before, the RAW software mimics the camera's on board software but with the settings adjustable to the enth degree. And as I also mentioned there is an advanced DRO program on the camera itself. So I had a go at playing with different DRO algorithms and was really surprised at how much detail there was available in those shadow areas. I could have some fun with this. I may also have been wrong about not being able to select specific areas as the software has automatic capture tools you can use to select areas falling foul of certain definable characteristics, most notably "clipped" areas.

All good stuff. :ugeek:

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Quick reply 'cos I'm in a hurry :cry:

Most landscape photographers wouldn't bother to use bracketing these days. It was important with film, when you would normally be using Velvia 50 transparency film which has an exposure latitude of 1/3 of a stop! If you were shooting 35mm or medium format you would normally bracket either side if you had any doubt about the exposure. With large format I shoot two sheets of film at the same exposure, and then if the first one isn't spot on when developed I have the development of the second sheet pushed or pulled by the correct amount (often just 1/3 or 1/2 stop).

With a digital SLR, however, (for landscapes at least) you don't need to bracket because you know whether you have nailed the exposure or not from the histogram. The technique is to "expose to the right", which means making sure that the right hand side of the histogram (the highlights) come as close as possible to the right hand side of the horizontal axis, but don't cross over it. This means you have maximum highlight information in the RAW file without blowing the highlights. If it is exposed further to the left you can easily pull the exposure back in the RAW conversion stage, but with the risk of increased noise in the shadows. Exposing to the right gives you a maximum tonal range. Of course if you expose to the right and the histogram falls of the bottom end of the axis (i.e you have lost shadow detail) it means you have too wide a tonal range to handle. The answer is usually to grad the highlight area (usually the sky), which compresses the tonal range to something manageable. If this is not possible, expose to the right and shoot, because it is truly amazing how much exposure latitude modern digital sensors and RAW images have, and you can usually bring the shadow detail out. When it is a toss-up always try to preserve the highlights rather than the shadows (the exception is black and white film, where you expose for the shadows).

Modern matrix meters usually do a good job of giving you an "exposed to the right" histogram, but if it's out a little bit on the first exposure just dial in some compensation and re-shoot. Incidentally, the only reason I look at the screen after a shot is to see the histogram - the image you see is actually a JPEG which the camera has produced from the RAW file for viewing purposes, and is useless for judging tonality. I leave my screen set up to show the 4 histogram view (composite, red, green and blue) so that I can check that all colour channels plus the composite have optimum "to the right" exposure.

Phew. Must go now!

Bruce

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Thanks for the detailed reply Bruce - I think I almost understood it. :oops:

My camera is at home so I can't fiddle with it at the moment. I have the Canon EOS400D on my desk but I cannot seem to get a split histogram from it. I can't marry up your information above with what I can see on screen either. Hopefully when we're next out shooting you can show me what you mean on the actual camera!

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Bruce,

It'll take me years to work that lot out...think I best bin the camera!! :(

Regards.

Clive.

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It's not as complicated as it sounds, honest, and it makes sense when you are actually looking at a histogram. Have a look at this article: http://www.luminous-landscape.com/tutorials/expose-right.shtml. It's a fairly old article, but sets out what is now standard practice amongst digital landscape shooters, and has the advantage of containing pictures of histograms!

I don't necessarily suggest using the technique all the time, although I always do it for landscapes to extract the maximum quality from the RAW file.

Simon, I realised after my post this morning that not all cameras have separate histograms for the red, green and blue channels - many just have the combined one.

Bruce

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Will have a look at the article shortly Bruce. I only raised the subject of histograms because the I was fiddling with the Canon EOS400D I use at work and a combined histogram was all it produced. I've just had a go with my own camera and it does produce 4 histograms - red, green, blue and something else. I have a feeling it isn't the combined one - I think DPReview are calling it a "luminance" histogram, whatever that is.

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Okay, read the article and understand what you mean now. I must confess, however, that it is extremely technical and in some ways for me (granted this might not be true of everyone) once you get to that level of technicality it starts removing the fun element. I'm not a pro, I'm not even an enthusiast in the true sense I'm just an amateur who enjoys getting some decent shots and I wonder if we're not reaching a level with that article which is beyond a level I aspire to? That's not to dismiss it out of hand and I will experiment with what I've learned but it may end up being something I pay real attention to on only the oddest of occasions.

On another note, I've posted up the ISO, shutter and aperture settings for the shots in this thread. I tend to avoid using apertures of less than f11 because of the number of forum posts and the like which talk about refraction kicking in at this point. But I don't know what that is (though presumably it is desirable to avoid it) and sometimes you obviously need the extra DoF. On the shot of the church gate roof (from side on) I needed a really large DoF and by using ISO1600 was able to get to f18 and could probably have gone right to the smallest aperture on the lens had I chosen but deemed f18 sufficient. I can't see anything in the resulting shot which would put me off using it again.

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Try the exposing to the right in the field Simon, and see how you get on with it. It really isn't difficult, and you are getting every last drop of quality out of the camera and the RAW file - which to my mind is worth doing when you have spent quite a few of your hard earned quids on it all. I do it without any real thought, and there was no painful learning curve.

As to apertures, people get very nerdy about optimum quality and refraction, especially on photography forums, where you get a lot of people who seem to spend their lives looking at computer screens in minute detail (but may not be able to make a decent image to save their lives - oops, naughty comment). Lenses are made to be used at all apertures, but with the knowledge that there are trade-offs at the extremes. If I am shooting subjects other than landscapes - e.g a wedding - I will commonly use f2.8 to blur the background and make the subject stand out, knowing that optimum quality probably starts at about f 4.5 or above, but knowing equally that any slight softness around the edges or other problems at 2.8 won't show unless I want to enlarge the print above A3, and even then would be visible only to a nerd - and of course I want softness around the edges otherwise I wouldn't be using f2.8! At the other end of the scale, I will routinely use my large format lenses at f32 or above, sometimes in extremis up to f64 (by the way, if you have a few spare minutes and want some inspiration from the history of photography, Google "f64 group"). OK, there are compromises, but again you would not notice the difference in most real life situations, and in the case of 5x4" film, probably even with a 36 inch print.

Using a decent DSLR lens at f18 or f22 is absolutely fine. Yes, if you did a direct comparison viewed at 100% on a monitor between the same image at f22 and f11 the f11 might well be somewhat better, but who cares? In the real world - i.e. a normal sized print - you would be unlikely to see the slightest difference.

Until recently I would have said that I would rather shoot at f22 at 800 ISO than f 16 at 1600 ISO, but then you introduce the recent amazing increase in quality of sensor performance in low light ...

Bruce

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Okay, all good stuff. I will try exposing to the right but it's something I'll probably only look into on leisurely walks with my camera - an evening stroll to the Broad or something like that. The majority of my photography is not done in those circumstances, more likely trying to capture something that I am witnessing - for example a few months ago walking around the grounds of the Royal Palace in Bangkok, I simply would not have had the time to worry about things like that but I certainly wanted pictures!

Understand too about lens diffraction. I don't even know how far that lens can stop down as I've never been down that far but it did the job required. I have to say, I was hoping to be creative but removed from the buzz of the photography walk I found my creativity just wasn't happening hence why most of the shots are fairly run of the mill stuff. But then I said even as I wrote my original photography guide that I was not very good at creative photography. Mark is a local, if I can dig him out of the MD's seat of his new company perhaps he'll come out and show me some tricks! 8-)

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Re-jig of the distant one of the church. I did take a shot at normal exposure but framed it poorly so I've binned that. Unfortunately that meant I could only work with the version taken at 2 stops down so it was naturally quite dark (as I had originally intended). Even so, I've been able to recover some detail.

2980395291_c99fcf3654.jpg

A lot of detail is lost re-sizing it for web use though.

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