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Highlight Tone Priority


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#1 vitorlourenco

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Posted 24 June 2017 - 10:49 PM

I've been doing some small work as a marathon photographer and here is my struggle.

 

I like shooting in manual auto-iso mode since it allows me to set the aperture to f/8.0 and shutter speed to 1/400s. I quite like shooting at f/8.0, the depth of field isn't super shallow and that's important when i have multiple runners coming towards me as a group, maybe 2 or 3 friends, and i wanna take a landscape photo of them. Shutter speeds slower than 1/400s are doable, 1/320s doesn't completly freeze action on the fingers and feet but i think a little bit of movement in sports photography is nice. Since my scene is constantly changing i like using the auto-iso mode to take care of exposure for me, i don't have the time to put it in full manual, shoot, look at the histogram, make a decision and shoot. Sometimes i'll be shooting at a completely different background since i'm focusing on the subject and the subject can be anywhere in a 180ยบ angle in front of me, the sun is also moving ( i may shoot for periods of 2 hours at a time ) and then there are clouds and whatnots so i can't say i'm so in touch with my camera that i can shoot in full manual and make adjustments without even looking at the pictures i'm taking, i'll shoot at least 5000 images in a single race, could be 15000 if it's a really big race. 

 

For those reasons i find that Manual auto-iso works best for me, i could try AV but then i don't know what the camera is going to do with the shutter speed and i may lose a lot of pictures (i'm using a cropped sensor camera and a lens limited to f/5.6 at 55mm) so there's not a lot of light coming in. I've been considering TV mode but not only the camera would be setting the aperture to things different from f/8.0 ( i like the sharpness of f/8.0 ) but also i don't have the ability to set my iso at fractions of a stop, so i have to chose between say 400 and 800 iso and that can be a big difference in image quality, could even cause underexposure if it's set to 400 then the light changes and the lens is unable to have an aperture larger than f/5.6. Auto-iso works in fractions of a stop, fixing that issue, something that even in manual i'm unable to do.

 

So i have an exposure mode that will take sharp pictures, with a decent depth of field and freeze the action but in hard light ( i very often work with hard light ) the scene can have a gigantic dynamic range and what happens is that the camera can meter somewhat correctly but the subject being hit by side-hard light will end up overexposed on that side of the body, cause the camera simply can't account for that automatically. I can't even make a guess and dial down the exposure compensation cause canon didn't add exposure compensation to their manual auto-iso mode. And dialing down the shutter speed would just make the metering system decide on a higher iso, so i would have to go full manual and that's a logistic nightmare shooting in a chaotic situation with dozens of people running by me in a couple of seconds. 

 

I've been nerding around trying to come up with a solution for this. I could look for spots where the scene has a smaller dynamic range, i could go full manual and lose my mind or i could suck it up and deal with the fact that a chunck of my shots will look kinda ugly. But i came across this function, high light tone priority. From what i've read, it underexposes the highlights and then applies some exposure adjustment in camera to bring the highlights back up without overxposing them and bringing the shadows up to what would be a balanced exposure. I can't shoot raw cause there is no way for me to process and store a minimum of 5000 raw images per race. Not to mention buffering and running out of memory cards. 

 

So my question here is wether someone has tried using highlight tone priority to shoot jpegs and if the result was good. I've been studying photography for only a couple months now, trying to balance it with university and life, so any advice from more exprienced people is highly appreciated. I'm attaching two images, i was shooting at the same spot but you can see that the change in the scene from moving the camera to another angle makes a huge difference in how the camera chose to expose the shot. here http://imgur.com/a/brais

 

I'm using center weighted metering



#2 geedee

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Posted 25 June 2017 - 04:40 AM

Starting off with an apology, I can`t answer your question though I enjoyed reading through your contribution. Seems to me that you have perhaps gone as far as one can with the kit you have available and congratulations on that... Though I am NO expert so hopefully there may be some who have an answer.

 

Trying to cope with parameters that perhaps exceed the capability of most if not all cameras in terms of dynamic range and with the limitations that JPEG presents relative to PP processes would seem a challenge indeed but then pushing boundaries can be a fundamental in self education...(-:

 

Less can be more and thus perhaps you might reduce your thinking from landscape setting ideals of runners to more of a single point of focus on subject(s)  and thus create images with more detailed interest..?

 

Sorry I do not click on external links thus did not have the opportunity to view your pics...  


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#3 John W

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Posted 25 June 2017 - 07:55 AM

i have not used highlight tone priority and cannot give you any advice on it. What I can tell you is that your equipment matters and if you are shooting a T3i the technology has has left that station. The newer camera sensors will not only give you far better image quality, handle higher ISO ( 800 is no problem ) but also allow you to use exposure compensation which is what you really need for the situation you describe. I shoot manual mode, auto ISO and change exposure compensation constantly on my Nikon D500. The same option is available on every new Canon DSLR. Shoot in RAW format as it contains more information and allows you greater options and control in post processing. 


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#4 Kerry Gordon

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Posted 25 June 2017 - 08:18 AM

I think John has put his finger on the problems, which are two-fold: the capability of your equipment relative to what you're trying to accomplish and shooting RAW vs. Jpeg.  I can't overemphasize the importance of shooting in RAW.  With Jpeg the camera is making important choices for you and in the circumstances you are describing those choices are bound to be wrong a good percentage of the time.  With RAW you capture a vastly greater amount of information, which is then there for you to work with in post.  Of course that means learning how to work in post, which, by the way, isn't nearly as challenging as you might think, at least to begin with.  I would suggest getting Lightroom and doing an online tutorial (there are lots of them).  You will be amazed at how it will expand your capabilities.  And by the way, in case you're wondering, there is no need to block the identity of the people in your photograph, unless you were being paid to take this photograph with the intention of using it commercially (i.e., advertising) in which case you would have needed to get a signed release from the participants.


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#5 vitorlourenco

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Posted 25 June 2017 - 08:41 AM

Yeah, i understand the limitations of my current equipment and the advantages of shooting raw. But shooting raw isn't really an option for me, even tho i have a decent idea of how to work in post, it's about storage space and the time it would take to do the processing, i need my laptop to do university work i can't have it working on 5000 raw files :( . I'll upgrade sometime in the future but nothing too fancy, photography gear prices are exorbitant here so i'm trying to work with what i have at the moment. Looks like highlight tone priority isn't the most well known function so maybe i should just give it a shot at the next race and see how it works. Shoot on a 500 images on / 500 images off cycle and then compare them.



#6 John W

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Posted 25 June 2017 - 11:46 AM

You can purchase an inexpensive external hard drive to store all your photographs on and only use your computer for the post processing work. 


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#7 vitorlourenco

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Posted 25 June 2017 - 05:09 PM

I'm getting a new external hard drive in a week to take care of space issues but raw just isn't doable. Even if i had a better camera to avoid the buffering in the t3i and several hard drives to store all the pictures, i would still have a deadline of roughly 30 hours to upload these pictures to the website i'm selling them at. So i would need to invest in a better camera body to shoot raw without buffering, hard drives to keep the files ( i need to keep them for 15 months ) and a new computer that would process raw all day cause my laptop can't do that. ( i would have to treat and send them in jpeg 1200x800 ) . Then when i'm done processing i still need time to upload them, i just don't have that kind of money right now. Camera bodies are imported products that enter the country on an exchange rate of roughly 3.3 local currency to 1 USD and then there are import taxes. A new 70D would go for about 3500 local currency ( BRL ) . That's 3 months of rent! I could get a used one for less but i'm putting this number out for comparison. So there's a whole logistic around shooting raw that requires investment that i'm unable to do at the moment. I don't put the bad pictures up for sale, shooting with a t3i and kit lenses in jpeg might not result in the best quality pictures everytime but sometimes it does the job very well, about 60% of the shots are keepers and the clients aren't looking for the highest quality image, they want a good pose to share it in social media or keep it as a memory from the race, i'm not shooting for the event organizers. So i'm looking for ways to raise the number of keepers so i can increase sales and make an investment on a better body. Right now, shooting raw would save some bad exposure shots but the price would be to lose almost all my shots due to buffering. I've tried continuous shooting with the t3i in raw, its not good. I'm not even sure the sony a9 would be able to do this kind of work in raw, the amount of pictures you take in a marathon like that is insane, you could be bursting nostop for periods of 10 to 15 minutes.



#8 geedee

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Posted 26 June 2017 - 03:18 AM

Vitor, Thanks so much for taking the time to share your experience. It would seem there may be little doubt that you have put a great deal of thought into your ambition to do the best with the kit you have available and I suspect you may well be making the best use of all that you have at present and as you have typed your customers are happy with that which you can provide, given that few folk take time to study the photograph to the extent a critical "photographer" might and most seem to wish to have a record of them taking part that is not a work of art.... It also seems that on my very rough cost benefit analysis that you have thought things through in depth thus I suspect it could be very difficult for anyone to come up with a line of thought that would greatly help your workflow.... but we live in hope..(-:

 

As for the value of RECORD photography.... I have many hundreds of pics taken over many (too many(-:) years that are considered invaluable to me and others.. I suspect many of your pics will be similarly valued and over a long period of time by those you capture in action.... Just enjoy what you have while you have it and never stop trying to improve..(-:  


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