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Dubai Skyline and Exposure

(Sony A55)

The full-size image of today's shot can make for a decent print to be hung on the wall. Let me share some thoughts on the exposure. If you're interested, please read on.

While it is arguable if digital photography is shifting our focus from the instant of capture in favour of post-production, it is at least to the newbies that digital photography saves them from the desolation which in the past hung over the much longer learning curve. Take learning exposure for example. With the instant on-screen preview, who would need to spend inordinate amounts of time experimenting exposure like the 1/2 to 1 stop increase/ decrease from the meter reading for light/ dark subjects?… not. 

Seriously, we should still know at least a bit about exposure to get the most out of a digital camera.

As in today's shot, landscapes and scenes involving large areas of open sky can be tricky for metering since the meter (except if you spot-meter the darker parts) will depress the reading to average out the brightest part (the sky), thus underexposing the darker parts. Worse still, every digital camera will underexpose a scene a wee bit by default. Even worse, the Sony SLT technology in the A55 for this shot "steals", I surmise, roughly 20% of the light. So on top of the usual +1 stop, I tweaked the exposure to add in half a stop more to aptly expose for the silhouettes and the hightlighted bits in the dark foreground. Without these remedies, the final image will be underexposed too much to be desirable while pushing up the exposure in post-processing will bring up the noise level in the dark parts as well.

The above remedial measure may not work for you if you are shooting under a bright sky with a camera which has no live viewfinder. Here is another trick for you: do a reading off your palm illuminated by the same light as your subject, then push up the indicated aperture by 1 stop.

Lastly, some may say it is advisable to use a gradient filter and so on to subdue the bright sky. To me, honestly, I don't bother about physical filters nowadays except for a polarizing filter. For the rest like a gradient filter, any non-destructive post-processing programme can do a decent job to your images. The image of today has been post-processed too to add in a gradient filter effect to darken the sky.


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