I am using Canon 600D. I am facing a problem in composing, where I will be taking pics at mid day with full of sunlight, half of my frame filled with with sky and other half any scenery (may be a building or landscape). In this situation, if I fill much of the frame with sky then only sky will be in highlight including clouds and actual object remains dark. If I fill the frame with the object more and lesser the sky, then sky looks like burst one, clouds will not appear in picture. Looks like filled with white. How to avoid this? I want to compose with both sky-clouds as well as scenery equally highlighted.


3 Answers 3


Your case is typical problem with high contrast/dynamic range situation. As no sensor can reproduce the dynamic range of the human eye, you can use several ways to create image which somehow represent your view of the light.

The first way is to expose based on the metering of sky. This will help you not to lose details in bright areas and still have some details in dark areas. Later in post-production, you can recover the details in dark areas (more or less). This way is not applicable if you meter on darker areas because you will lose info in bright areas with no way to recover.

The other ways is to use HDR. You shoot several images with different exposures (standard, +1, -1 and so on). After you can combine them with software and (depend of the setting you use) get well exposed sky and dark objects.

P.S. You can try also neutral density graduated filters to decrease the amount of light for sky.

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    Even if you had a sensor with a high dynamic range, you'd still need a way to get this dynamic range fit in the 8 bits of most people's display. So, you'd get the same issues as with HDR (HDR does two things: combine images to fake a high dynamic range sensor, and then compress the contrast to get a low-range image; you'd need the second part). Jul 27, 2015 at 11:25
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    The problem with comparison to human vision is that while the eye itself has limited dynamic range (even if better than most cameras), the brain has literally infinite dynamic range — and our perception of a scene is not as direct as we imagine it to be, but rather based on our mental model. So, human vision is always going to exceed any mechanical system.
    – mattdm
    Jul 27, 2015 at 14:55
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    "Still HDR images do not look natural." Bad HDR doesn't, but well done HDR doesn't even look like what you think HDR is. For more, see photo.stackexchange.com/a/45670/15871
    – Michael C
    Jul 28, 2015 at 1:47
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    And photo.stackexchange.com/a/45641/15871
    – Michael C
    Jul 28, 2015 at 1:51
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    "HDR images do not look natural." - They can. People just get carried away with the technique, like they did with digital photography itself when it was new. Remember when digital cameras were marketed with completely ridiculous, obviously edited photos? Jul 29, 2015 at 9:09

You could experiment with a graduated neutral-density filter which can partially "block" the light from the sky to bring the entire scene within the dynamic range capabilities of the camera sensor / film.


Use graduated neutral density filters, as osullic mentioned above, it is the major tool to control contrast. Sometimes polarizing filters can help too. There are certain rather expensive filters that add controlled flare reducing the contrast, too - I love them, but they demand certain experience in postprocessing to get the natural look back.

Set your camera to shoot in raw. Spot-meter from highlights where you want to keep some texture. Add 3 to 3.5 stops to exposure (bracket if needed, or determine the headroom in highlights your camera has). Use a raw converter with decent highlight recovery (Adobe CameraRaw, Adobe Lightroom, for example; but you can experiment with others as well). Check which ISO setting gives you less noise in shadows (with Canon cameras it may be 1 stop above base ISO). That is about as good as it gets.

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