Friday, November 13, 2009
Welcome back, I’ve missed you all! Well, most of you. Today’s picture is from Colorado Springs. The foreground is the Garden of the Gods (specifically, Kissing Camels), and in the back you’re looking at Pikes Peak. I’d love to be able to tell you how hard I had to work to get this picture, that I had to hike miles and miles into the wilderness, blah blah blah. But no, I was driving by, saw that it looked really nice, so I stopped in the parking lot of the Garden of the Gods visitor’s center. Oh well, they can’t all be exotic, right?
Remember: if you’re trying to take pictures where you want your foreground to be super dark and you want to be able to see the color and detail in the sky, you need to underexpose it, sometimes severely. If I had just pointed the camera and let the light meter do the work, you’d be able to see the foreground, but the sky would be an uninteresting white blob. In general, the best way to ruin the color in a picture is to overexpose it. And, if you ask me, every camera I’ve ever owned likes to overexpose your shots by default. I mean, there are exceptions where, for a particular shot, it gets it right, but I’ve found that I’m much happier with the results if I leave my exposure compensation on -1/3rd stop all the time. Sometimes I bump it back even more. Having vivid colors is more important to me than having all of the detail be “properly” illuminated. Who decided what illumination is “proper” anyway? Not sure. But everyone seems to agree on it, except for me. Anyway, there’s a couple quick tricks that you can use to bump down the exposure if you find that a picture you want is coming out too bright. The first is of course to set your camera’s exposure compensation. Bump it down to -1 or more, see if that helps. Of course, that only works in manual mode. If you want to stick with automatic (or you have a camera that won’t let you set the exposure compensation), just point the camera at the sky, and push (and hold) the shutter in halfway. That should lock in the focus and exposure settings on the sky (which is typically much brighter than everything else – thus making the camera think it needs to allow less light in to the sensor). Then, frame your shot as you like. Voila – nice, rich colors. Probably worth mentioning: this isn’t that effective if your foreground isn’t far away, since when you lock in your settings against the sky, your camera will almost certainly be focusing on infinity. I could go into more detail about what I’m talking about here, but I’ve used up my quota for keystrokes today.
Notes: Canon EOS Rebel T1i, Tokina 11-16mm f/2.8 lens. 1/320s, f/14.0, ISO 200. Focal length: 16mm.