Big up the blues

Mas­ter the art of choos­ing and us­ing the right ND grad to bring out de­tailed skies

NPhoto - - Contents -

In land­scape pho­tog­ra­phy the sky is usu­ally an in­te­gral part of the pic­ture, but it can also be your big­gest prob­lem. It’s be­cause the sky is al­ways that lit­tle bit brighter than the land­scape it­self, and of­ten a lot brighter.

It de­pends on the light. On a sunny day, with the light be­hind you, a blue sky will ap­pear quite rich and in­tense, but on an over­cast day, or if you’re shoot­ing into the light, the bright­ness dif­fer­ence can be very large in­deed.

If you set the ex­po­sure for the fore­ground, the sky will come out over­ex­posed, and if you ad­just the set­tings so that the sky comes out well, the land­scape is un­der­ex­posed.

You can’t al­ways fix this in Pho­to­shop. If the dif­fer­ence in bright­ness be­tween the sky and the land­scape is too great, the scene may fall out­side the cam­era sen­sor’s dy­namic range, so that there’s no use­ful de­tail in the dark­est or light­est ar­eas which can be re­cov­ered later even if you choose an ex­po­sure half way be­tween the two ex­tremes.

This is why grad­u­ated fil­ters still have an im­por­tant role in dig­i­tal

The sky is al­ways that lit­tle bit brighter than the land­scape it­self, and of­ten a lot brighter… This is why grad­u­ated fil­ters still have an im­por­tant role in dig­i­tal pho­tog­ra­phy

pho­tog­ra­phy, es­pe­cially when you’re mak­ing im­ages of land­scapes. They are clear at the bot­tom but dark­ened at the top, and you po­si­tion them in front of the cam­era lens so that the dark­ened area cov­ers the sky.

It’s a sim­ple idea. How­ever, grad­u­ated fil­ters come in all sorts of sizes and strengths and it’s im­por­tant to use the right one for the job. They also need to be used with a cer­tain amount of care. It’s easy to over­darken the sky, for ex­am­ple, or use one that’s too hard and cre­ate an all-too-ob­vi­ous tran­si­tion that you can’t fix later.

To show how they work, we took a trip to one of our favourite coastal photo lo­ca­tions, where the dra­matic rock for­ma­tions need an equally dra­matic sky to go with them.

Flat skies look ter­ri­ble in mono­chrome, so use an ND grad to pre­serve de­tail

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.