02-11-2006, 05:37 PM
Steve you have taken some excellent landscape lighting photos for the Cast lighting website. In your article you said they were taken with the Canon 20d.
Are you using the auto exposure bracketing feature or are you shooting with manual f-stop settings and exposures etc. If you are using the manual settings, generally speaking which f-stop (aperature) setting do you recommend for best depth of field and focusing / exposure times etc. Also how do you prevent overexposed "hot spots" such as lighting on white walls statuary, etc. from appearing on your shots when they aren't detectable by the naked eye by viewing the actually lighting. Do you need to do alot of post production (photoshop) work to get the quality of photos you have on your site? Thank you in advance.
02-11-2006, 07:28 PM
Thanks for the question.
I use the manual program setting and aim to get the highest f-stop possible. Higher f-stops give more depth of field and improve sharpness of the photo.
To get the highest f-stop I usually end up with an exposure time of 20 to 30 sec. (the highest setting achievable while using the camera's built in meter.)
To determine the correct shutter speed/f-stop combination, I start with the setting that puts the indicator in the center of the exposure meter (as seen through the viewfinder.) After taking the shot, I check the screen preview and decide whether or not I need to adjust the time/f-stop up or down. If I'm not sure, I will bracket up and down one stop.
Hot spots are always an issue, so I start my shoot by re-aiming fixtures to reduce them as much as possible. I also start shooting while the sky is still light since that will provide illumination in shadowed areas and reduce the contrast between lit and unlit areas.
I often do end up making use of Photoshop with the goal to achieve a photo that looks as much like what the eye sees as possible. It's often the case that when the lighting on the structure is perfect for the photo, the sky is still fairly bright.
In that case I sometimes take the shot when the structure is lit perfectly, then leave the camera on the tripod and take another shot after the sky darkens. Then, in photoshop I layer the two images and erase portions of one layer so both the sky and structure look good.
Another way to deal with any overly bright sky is to use photoshop's magic wand tool to select the sky, create a new layer and put in a blue or gradient. However, if there are many leaves in the shot (against the sky), it makes it very dificult to get a good selection and the retouching will be obvious.
Also, if I have burned out areas then I will use the burning and/or cloning tool to bring details into the white regions.
There are many other tricks I use, but I caution those not expert in photoshop to play around too much since bad retouching makes the photo worse, not better.
By the way, if anyone is serious about taking great landscape lighting photos, I suggest you start with great equipment. I've created a public wishlist on bhphoto.com, that shows the contents of the photo kit that I use. You can view this list by going to that website, click on "Wish Lists" then enter my first and last name in the public wish list section.
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