Is there any go-to method for getting good exposure of both sky and land in landscape photography in broad daylight landscape photography?

I've noticed that in my dlsr and smart phone, I'm typically able to expose one or the other, but not both.

However, I feel like I've seen a number of images that have nice clouds, gradations of blue, along with pretty trees, nice fields, etc.

Are these done with multiple exposures? Or filters that reduce the brightness of the sky? Is there a go to method it is it catch as catch can?


1 Answer 1


An exposure is by definition for one image. What you must do is exposure in consideration for all parts of the image, considering the dynamic-range of the digital camera you are using. A modern DSLR can capture 14 stops or so which very good but can be exceeded by many scenes, particularly when they involve direct sunlight and shadows.

The best tool to handle this is time. Light is less strong in the morning and late afternoon.

The traditional alternative is to use a graduated ND filter but that only really works when the separation between light and dark areas match the filter. A polarizer can help when the exceed dynamic range is not too high, particularly in getting the sky more saturated.

With digital photography, Exposure Fusion and HDR are most often used for scenes that exceed what the camera can capture. The more still the scene, the better, but modern software can partly handle a scene with moving elements, although things like the ocean with large movements are another story.

As with everything in a craft, there are opportunities for each tool. One thing you can do as a safety net is to shoot RAW+JPEG. This gives you an image plus a RAW file which can hold more gradations and will allow you some latitude later to improve things. Anything out of the dynamic-range of the camera is still going to be a problem, so when you have a still scene with high contrast, shooting a bracket will be useful, should you decide to apply Exposure Fusion or create an HDR image.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Covers everything. \$\endgroup\$
    – samjay
    Commented Jul 27, 2017 at 4:24

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