Dark Photos - how to get the right lighting?


Ian

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Just to set the scene, I know very little about cameras - mainly as I've had a "point and shoot" until very recently.

One problem that seems to be a common theme with anything I take outside is dark photos. I don't know if that is just due to my bad positioning and the real lighting conditions, or something I can rectify by playing with the settings. I guess it's a bit of both.

I've attached a few examples to show you what I mean.

This one is probably the worst offender, and I don't know how I could capture it so I could actually see the colour of the trees. Because the sky is so bright, most of the rest of the picture is so dark you can't actually make out any detail.

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This is the same as the above but to a lesser degree - it was a really bright day so the sky came out fine, but the rest of the image is too dark (considering it was nice and red at the time!).


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This one is almost good, but the left hand side is too dark - I guess there's nothing I could set to change that and it's just down to correct positioning though?


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Does anyone have any tips on what I can do to prevent this sort of thing happening, do I need to play with ISO settings or the like?
 

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Taffycat

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I expect the experts will be able to tell you about the camera setting tweaks, but meanwhile, if you happen to have Picasa (free) then the "fill light" will remove a lot of the darkness. As you can see, you don't then have those nice shadows on the pathway, but you can see into the trees. Hope you don't mind me having a twiddle with it :)

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nivrip

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Great find TC. I've just recently downloaded Picasa but I hadn't come across this facility yet. I've just brightened up some of my recent photos using it. :thumb:
 

muckshifter

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P&S do a lot to compensate for the lack of knowledge on behalf of the photographer ... I still see a lot of crap pics. :D



So, what camera is it ??? :rolleyes:
 

Ian

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It's the Panasonic Lumix FZ18 - it's a superzoom camera halfway between a P&S and DSLR, so suits me :)

Thanks for the tweaks TC :thumb:, Picasa is a great bit of free software
nod.gif
. I've adjusted some of them to get the lighting a bit better, but I wasn't sure if there was something I could do pre-processing to get the best out of it.
 
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muckshifter

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ah, yes I remember ...


So basically it's a P&S wannabe SLR ;)

Tip 1
Don't point it into the sun

Tip 2
Point it more at the 'shady' spot, then holding the shutter half way down, move the camera and click

Tip 3
Take more than one pic, the film is cheap enough ;)

Tip 4
experiment


:wave:
 

Abarbarian

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Is that Windermere ?? from Loughrigg ?

Nice camera ! I'd have gone for the Cannon S5 1S meself. Some of your problems are caused by the small sensor that the camera has the Cannon has the same sensor. This review gives you a bit of info on it.

http://www.trustedreviews.com/digital-cameras/review/2007/08/21/Panasonic-Lumix-DMC-FZ18/p7

Well worth a read. I recon yuo might have to tweak the ISO settings to get the best out of it. Do as Mucks says take several shots of what you want as it is quick and easy to dump the ones that are junk.
In that shot of the lake with the red hillside, I recon there was a small bit of cloud over the sun just as you took the shot, taking several shots even with the briefest of gaps between shots would have given you several different lighted images to choose from. A filter to cut out some of the suns rays would be good. Best time for natural light shots is early in the morning. Thats about all I know about cameras. Happy snapping.

nod.gif
 

Ian

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Thanks folks, it looks like I need to have more of a play with my camera (as well as taking plenty shots of each scene ;)).

Abarbarian said:
Is that Windermere ?? from Loughrigg ?

It is indeed! Well spotted :D
 

Abarbarian

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I been there too.

:D

Thats not my best side, as us photographers say.
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Abarbarian

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An yer last pic is of Loughrigg Tarn itself. These were taken from the other side of the lake. Its me favourite place in the lakes to go for a dip.
Pics are abit so so as they were taken on a credit card size camera, only 1.3 MP.

:D

See what I mean about light. You would say they were taken on different days. But they were taken within five minutes of each other and it was a glorious sunny day without a cloud in the sky.
 

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Ian

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That's the place - good pic that 1st one! :D Really like it round there, plus hawkshead tarn (well, it's near there anyway) and a few other places :thumb:
 

Abarbarian

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Yer always welcome to call in for tea and buns. Mebees we could meet up for a pint when your in the area sometime..
The walk up r
Red Screes at the top of Kirkstone pass is well worth the hour long walk.
You can see for miles and miles on a good day.

happywave.gif
 

Ian

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Cheers Abarbarian, I might just take you up on that offer when I'm up there in the Spring :D Nothing beats a good pint after a long walk!
 
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the problem you see is not really a camera issue and there's no real camera settings which will help (I suspect a point+shoot to provide much the same type of images given the scene)

the bit that needs fixing is the photographer :)

essentially a camera (film based or electronic) can capture a cerent amount of dynamic range or to put it another way the contrast of the scene must be within the capability of the recording medium to capture that contrast, so given the scenes above you can choose to have a correctly exposed sky and the land be dark or you can over expose the sky (blown out / total white) and have correctly exposed land

one of the popular ways to deal with the landscape issue is to use a graduated neutral density filter,. it blocks light to certain amount of the frame and lets the rest through,. really useful if the sky/ground crossover is reasonbly level across the frame,. as example

pmad_kimmeridge_bay_100206_2470.jpg


the sky was actually a lot brighter than the sea when the image was taken, but over the top of the lens is a filter, the top half cuts 2 stops of light and the bottom half is clear,. line that up with the horizon and it's a done deal, both the sky and sea end up nearer in terms of brightness so the sensor can record them both at the same time

there are all kinds of other ways to do the same,. with landscapes in particular often the best advice is to find the right weather conditions / time of day that will allow the sky / land to be closer in terms of exposure value,. sunrise / sunset and just before and after those is usually a good starting point

S
 
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Ian

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Thanks Silver, I'll take a look at some filters and see what I can find :) If there're cheap enough I'll get one to try out over the next few months, as I always seem to have this problem. I don't go out specifically to take photos, so often the time of day isn't ideal when I happen to be there, so this sounds like a good solution :thumb:

Fantastic pic btw :D
 
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Hi Ian.

I use a U/V filter on my camera lenses and on my video camera.It cuts down the suns ray
and protects your lenses from dust,water,and damage. Its cheaper to replace a filter than
a whole lens.
historian
 
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Ian Cunningham said:
Thanks Silver, I'll take a look at some filters and see what I can find :) If there're cheap enough I'll get one to try out over the next few months, as I always seem to have this problem. I don't go out specifically to take photos, so often the time of day isn't ideal when I happen to be there, so this sounds like a good solution :thumb:

Fantastic pic btw :D

thanks :)

there's at least 2 other ways to reduce the contrast of the scene - you can add light to the foreground (e.g. flash and balance it against the existing light)

another option is take multiple exposures (some underexposed some overexposed) and combine them in a paint app, aka 'hdr' or high dynamic range,.

the pic of the guy standing with the scenary behind could have used a flash to add some light back into the person - also reflectors can work depending,.
 
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