Please help me solve this problem

Discussion in 'Photography Techniques' started by Jock Elliott, Sep 13, 2015.

  1. Jock Elliott

    Jock Elliott SC All-Pro

    Jan 3, 2012
    Troy, NY
    Streams leading off into the woods have always caught my eye, but photographing them has always been problematic. It's difficult to show depth; they come out looking flat and uninteresting.

    Yesterday my wife are walking at Oakwood cemetery and we cross a bridge where a stream lead out of a pond. On one side of the bridge is the pond; on the other, the stream, leading down a ravine that is overshadowed by trees. On this day, the sunlight is penetrating the canopy, illuminating three small pools leading off into the darkness. In the foreground are a couple of leafed tree branches that I can't avoid, but the leaves are muted because they are in shadow.

    So I point the LX100 at the distance pools and attempt to expose for them. When I push the shutter halfway down and the exposure locks in, the foreground leaves look hot, like they are in full, bright, sunlight. I don't take the shot because the foreground would be a huge distraction from the pools leading off into the gloom.

    Clearly, the sensor on the camera is seeing the leaves in the foreground differently from my eye. What I want is the leaves in the foreground to not be competing with the real subject of the photos, the pools leading into the distance.

    Suggestions? Is there a way to "knock down" the leaves in the foreground without losing the pools in the distance? Can I "dodge and burn" in post processing?

    Cheers, Jock
     
    Last edited: Sep 14, 2015
  2. Lightmancer

    Lightmancer Super Moderator

    Aug 13, 2011
    Sunny Frimley
    Bill Palmer
    Well, in the good old days I'd have used a neutral grad (graduated filter) from someone like Cokin. That's probably still the best answer for what is effectively the problem of metering a scene in which the dynamic range is simply too many stops to handle by other means.
     
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  3. Luke

    Luke Super Moderator

    Nov 11, 2011
    Milwaukee, WI USA
    Luke
    If you felt the foreground leaves were too bright, you could have tried to spot meter on the leaves and then underexpose. Now that may have left your subject (the pools) underexposed as well. But it's easier to lift shadows.

    Also, rather than just "giving up" taking the shot. I'd have tried some exposure bracketing. Shoot 4 or 5 different exposures. Maybe one of them will work after a bit of post processing. Also, if taken with a tripod, you might be able to try combining exposures in post.
     
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  4. Jock Elliott

    Jock Elliott SC All-Pro

    Jan 3, 2012
    Troy, NY
    I tried it again a few minutes ago. Steady rain last night, different lighting conditions. Both shots have had the benefit of Perfect Effects HDR romancing.

    The FZ200 in "Professional" mode (P):

    FZ200 Oakwood stream after rain 002 copy.

    The LX100 with shutter speed slowed to 1/15th and spot metering on the water.

    LX100 Oakwood stream after rain 031 copy.

    Here are the originals:

    LX100
    LX100 Oakwood stream after rain 031.JPG

    FZ200
    FZ200 Oakwood stream after rain 002.JPG

    Cheers, Jock
     
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  5. Lightmancer

    Lightmancer Super Moderator

    Aug 13, 2011
    Sunny Frimley
    Bill Palmer
    Ahh. I misunderstood, but now I have seen your images I'd agree with Luke. Personally I'd do some judicious dodging and burning to bring up the water without losing detail.
     
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  6. Luke

    Luke Super Moderator

    Nov 11, 2011
    Milwaukee, WI USA
    Luke
    or haul some massive battery powered floodlights into the background to illuminate the water. :tomato2:
     
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  7. Jock Elliott

    Jock Elliott SC All-Pro

    Jan 3, 2012
    Troy, NY
    I would, but the Sherpas are on strike.

    Cheers, Jock
     
  8. Luke

    Luke Super Moderator

    Nov 11, 2011
    Milwaukee, WI USA
    Luke
    you just can't get good Sherpas these days..... :rofl:
     
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  9. Luke

    Luke Super Moderator

    Nov 11, 2011
    Milwaukee, WI USA
    Luke
    OK, this is just a quick and dirty 3 minute edit (I am at work..... and my boss is a jerk) but using some smart selection tools and selectively adjusting brightness (and contrast and clarity) one can mess with it pretty good. If I were doing it for keeps, I'd apply the same changes that I made to the leaves hanging to the little sapling in the foreground to the right. But that one was going to be more time consuming (and I don't think that one is as troublesome either). I just darkened the leaves and brightened the water. Is this closer to how you saw it?

    21388817475_a5927c9d18_h. quick and dirty edit by Luke, on Flickr
     
  10. Lawrence A.

    Lawrence A. SC All-Pro

    Nov 8, 2012
    New Mexico
    Larry
    One of the things I love about photoshop is that you can dodge or burn highlights, mid tones, or shadows selectively, and thus increase local contrast without applying contrast or level change to the entire image -- or masking. It's very useful and would be handy in this situation.
     
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  11. Jock Elliott

    Jock Elliott SC All-Pro

    Jan 3, 2012
    Troy, NY
    Yes, real close! Thank.

    Cheers, Jock
     
  12. dalethorn

    dalethorn Guest

    The first (FZ200) image looks great - very natural with great depth, but the second image (LX100) looks like the big log or tree is too dark and too dominant, and the 'creamy' look to the water is unnatural. I know a lot of photographers who like the milky water look, but to me it looks unnatural, not in a good way.
     
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  13. Jock Elliott

    Jock Elliott SC All-Pro

    Jan 3, 2012
    Troy, NY
    Dale,

    I had never done a "creamy water" shot before, and -- as you know -- the main controls (shutter, aperture, exposure comp) are readily accessible and visible on the LX100, so I clicked the shutter speed to 1/15th and gave it a rip. I don't mind the effect, but it is certainly not what you see with your eye, and it has become a bit of a cliche.

    Cheers, Jock
     
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