How To Avoid Blown Out Shots In Photography

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How to avert accident-out highlights in landscape photography

OK.. I learned again that I still have a long way to go along how to expose properly without blowing out the highlights… So I’d like to ask some communication nearly best and easiest manner to avoid blown-out highlights when in the field.

I have as well many images where I notice out too tardily that I made mistakes resulting in blown-out highlights, especially scenes with large difference between light and nighttime area’due south.

I made this motion picture of a waterfall last week. I didn’t have much time at the location, then rushed it a chip likewise much and didn’t pay enough attention. I thought from looking at the histogram that none of the highlights were blown out (I didn’t see any peaks at the right side), and then was nether the impression that I was fine. Simply to make sure I even made exposure bracket with +/-0.three EV to perhaps blend the images together. But at home on my reckoner screen I noticed that really the white in the waterfall is blown-out and detail lost even at the -0.3 EV darker exposure.

(unedited photo, merely converted from RAW to JPG)

Most of the time I shoot in Aperture priority and utilise auto metering of the camera (multi metering).

In this case I made a few clear mistakes:

> too rushed, not taking time to double bank check images;

> ISO was nevertheless on 400, which should take been set up to 100 such that I could remove ND filter or (although this didn’t effect the overall exposure). I didn’t even detect this;

> I didn’t look for pocket-sized “blinkies”; I relied on the shape of histogram having the impression that when no peak shown on right side nothing would be blown out;

And so my question is what I can do to avert such mistakes.

Should I shoot in full Transmission mode, such that I’chiliad forced to make exposure manually?

Should I plow on Zebra part to find blow-out area’due south?

Should I bracket with say +/-1 EV in stead of 0,3 or 0,five EV?

Should I use different metering style?

Suggestions are much appreciated.

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Re: How to avoid accident-out highlights in landscape photography


I practice believe shooting transmission and watching over the histogram is the best exercise for this situation.

Just the piece of cake solution in this case is probably your selection of bracketing.

I have never bracketed nor heard of anyone bracketing at +/-0.3 EV ; just not enough variance there to have the brackets be useful. Become with +/- 1 when bracketing.

Am curious though, have you lot confirmed the highlights are blown and the detail non recoverable?  If not reduce the highlight slider some and see what you go.

GCam •

Veteran Member

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Re: How to avoid blow-out highlights in landscape photography

First of all, ISO incorrect for that white waterfall, but even at 400, you could have shot a dissever shot of the waterfall only and copied and pasted it into the photograph in PP.  I shoot a lot of cloud formations, and I shoot at the everyman ISO available, shoot spot metering and choose to focus where the white and blacks intersect.  Seems to work with clouds, don’t know well-nigh other scenes.  gc

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Highlight headroom

With raw files y’all have mayhap a end or so more highlight headroom than y’all’ll accept with an out-of-camera JPEG. Be aware that the raw processor non merely puts a strong contrast curve on the raw data, simply also the reddish and blue color channels are additional also during processing. Try lowering the effulgence or highlights or white betoken in the raw processor to see if it is recoverable; also try boosting the shadow detail as well.

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(unknown member)

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Re: How to avoid blow-out highlights in mural photography


Are the highlights in this shot truly blown? Information technology would help if yous posted a link to the raw file, because the highlights might take been lost in the conversion.

TJ61 •

Senior Member

• Posts: i,516

The trouble with the histogram…


[Just took another look at your photo. What water highlights/item would you wait to see in a 3s exposure? Perchance that’s the problem.  Otherwise, read on.]

The histogram but helps if there are enough (about-to-be) diddled out pixels to be noticeable on the graph. A relatively minor fraction of pixels can make a big difference, only it may not be plenty to make a sizable meridian on the histogram.

I set up the “Zebra” setting on my a6000 to 100+, which will show me in the EVF which pixels will be diddled out. Then, I decrease the EC until such indicate that I don’t see any blinking pixels. If this puts the EC to less than, say, EC = -1, I might practise a bracket. But first, I’ll enhance the EC back upward, so that the lowest it goes during the bracket is the value I just determined where the blowout is avoided. No point going lower.

As an example, if I decide I need to go to EC=-1.3 for no blowout, and desire to do a +/-1 bracket, I’ll set EC =-0.3, so I become a bracket of -i.three, -0.3, +0.vii.

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svOwl •

Regular Member

• Posts: 154

Re: Highlight headroom

Does your camera have a spot metering capability? If so, use it to target the highlights and set the exposure manually. Perhaps overexpose the metered issue by one end (or so) since the metering will have given you the proper exposure for a 17% grey surface and you probably desire that portion of the image to be brighter than that.

If you lot don’t have spot metering, perhaps you tin can walk right up (or zoom in) to the high lit surface and prepare the exposure direct.

If none of this is possible, then subclass. How much and many brackets depends on the dynamic range of the scene and the capabilities of your camera. i/three-stop steps aren’t enough. 1-stop steps usual but information technology depends on the camera. And take as many steps equally you delight to be sure you capture the full dynamic range. An advantage of digital is that the incremental cost is zero since you tin can just delete the useless ones when you become back and process the expert ones. And HDR techniques using these multiple shots may also be a possibility.

Back in films days when dynamic range was limited, I ruined or degraded many one time-in-a-lifetime travel shots because of blown out highlights. Nowadays, this (about) never happens.

As a side note, probably your over-exposure indicator is based on an analysis of the  in-camera jpeg and frequently this gives an inaccurate result. Have some images of tricky, static scenes and experiment. You will be glad y’all did.

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