Sunday, March 26, 2006

1/320 s, f/4.0

I am SICK of blown out skies. I overexpose all the time. These shots are unprocessed. I'm shooting with a Canon S2 IS which has an fairly common but severly limited aperture range of 2.8 to 8. I *WANT* 1.4 to 32 but my life is full of ungranted wants. Given this handicapping condition my question for anyone that knows anything about this photography thing IS....

Will a filter help this? Even one of those funky half ND filters? Is this a metering issue? The aperture is f/4.0 on most of these because the camera goes to that by default I think. Would putting it to f/8 help at all? And do all these things simply set the shutterspeed faster? Is that all I need to do? Am I kidding myself here? Should I only be shooting in manual mode? Should I calm down?





  1. Only the truley wise understand how little they truley know.

    I dont know much about using filters, but my sunglasses are polarized and ive taken pics through them before... as in putting camera lense behind the sunglasses lense to take pictue, and i know it helps with glair on water and such... so maybe a polarizing filter might help...

    hope you figure it out

  2. Nope, don't think that is metering or the camera aperture. with backlight like that you are stuck with choosing the sky or the object, can't have both. When I get in this situation I compose the shot in such a way that the primary subject occupies the point of interest in the picture. If I wanted the building, I'l leave little or no sky. If I wanted the clouds, vice-versa.

  3. Your camera's auto-exposure software is taking its best guess at a complicated exposure situation. It has nothing to do with aperture per se. If you change the aperture the camera will adjust the shutter speed accordingly to give you the same Exposure Value ("EV").

    A polarizing filter won't help much with cloudy skies, but it will darken blue skies, depending on your shooting angle relative to the sun.

    If you have Photoshop, Photoshop Elements, or similar, try this:

    Digital Split Neutral Density Filter

  4. Manual mode and polarizing... And be caaaallllmmmm! Zen JK! ZEN! BTW, Ferris does'nt know a damn thing about photography!

  5. Hey MP, I respectfully disagree. Polarization boosts saturation and reduces reflected glare. It also dims the entire scene by about -1EV, making everything darker.

    It won't reduce the dynamic range of these scenes, which is beyond what the sensor (or film, FWIW) can record. The lights are too light and/or the darks are too dark. If you expose for one, you will lose the other. This type of scene is what a split-ND filter is for.

    As for manual mode, you're still relying on the same metering that controls the auto-exposure. Unless you have a really good idea of why you'd rather use F8 @ 1/250 instead of F4 @ 1/1000, you don't need to go there. In P, A or Tv mode, you can expose selectively by using the camera's spot-metering mode. Point at the spot, hold the shutter half-way to lock the exposure, then recompose to get your shot.

    And stay calm.

    BTW, jkirlin, your camera's lens is much smaller than that of a 35mm SLR. Therefore, you'll get much more depth of field. Your camera's F8 probably gives you the same sharpness as F22 on my Digital Rebel.

  6. All I know is that between the radio shot and this -- your blowing my stone. Can we pplleeaassee just get back to the simple life, like reading in the park??

  7. Wish I could help but I am so very ignorant in that domain...probably as much as Bueller!... but ask me about digging square holes in the ground though...that's another story!
    PS: filter problems or not...I still think the pictures look really good!

  8. JIK: Hmmmm...I can't believe I haven't tried that yet. Good call. If nothing else it might look funny.

    MJ: Ok, that makes me feel a LITTLE better. But why can't I have it ALL?

    Gary: Picasa has a mild gradient thing but I was only happy with it when I gave it something to work with. It seems I can dig more details out of the underexposures than the overexposures. Thanks for that resource though, I read it and was glad to find that he was having the same trouble. I think what I need to do is just reduce the exposure value as a rule and keep it that way, maybe a -1 simply because I think the Canon overexposes. I figured out the deal with it's metering by playing around with it and got the clouds in these shots using the AE lock and refocusing, my concern was that it would also AF lock on the clouds FAR beyond the subject but it didn't seem to bother it much but I think because I was some distance away just the same. Does film have a greater dynamic range? Telling me will only give me something to bitch about because I'm not going back to it.

    DO TELL about this lens difference. You can even email me if we are mind numbing people here because I wanna know.

    mp: I DO think some filter are in order. You can get them for yours, too, at

    tmt: Settle down or I'll sic Cryden on you.

  9. Merlinprincesse sent a very nice correction of the underexposed image and that may be the route to take. The gradient control of Photoshop may also make fixing them underexposed images easier than...ummm...Picasa. heh heh

  10. JK: Let 'em read and learn.

    Picasa is an excellent package for the price. I quite like it. It's primarily an organizer, though, not an editor.

    I find my old Digital Elph overexposes, but my Digital Rebel underexposes. They all have their quirks.

    Your S2 IS has a sensor that is much smaller than a 35mm negative. Therefore -- without getting into an optics lesson that is beyond me -- you will achieve results comparable to a film camera in terms of field-of-view and depth-of-field with smaller focal lengths and larger apertures. The opposite is true of medium-format cameras.

    And yes, good, low-ISO slide film has more dynamic range than digital, unless you shoot 12-bit RAW. Print film maybe, but you also have to consider the paper. So probably not.