Thursday, April 9, 2009

How to shoot blue skies without filters or PhotoShop

Here is a short video I shot in Palm Springs demonstrating how to take advantage of the position of the sun to take breathtaking blue shots without filters, PhotoShop or other manipulations.

All of these photos were taken without polarizing filters and are pretty much out of the camera.

This is about as blue as it gets. Shot directly over head, the sun to my back and metering off of the sky.
©2009 ShootingMyUniverse

This photo shows how dust in the atmosphere will scatter light. It was taken from the west end of Palm Springs shoot across the desert. Not that the sky looks a little muddy. There was a lot of dust in the air. Dust and water vapor will scatter out all but the reds making the sky in the upper right corner look a little dark and muddy.

©2009 ShootingMyUniverse

I was surprised that this shot came out. I was shooting at about 90 degrees to the sun, that is with the sun on my left shoulder and the Red-tail in directly in front of me. Note that the sky is lighter.

©2009 ShootingMyUniverse

This male Costa’s hummingbird was shot with the sun 45 degrees between my nose and my left shoulder. The bird is being partially backlit. Note that the sky has lightened up a bit. I could have darkened the sky by under exposing by a third of a stop, but the I’d risk the details in the hummingbird. When editing this photo, I would lighten up the bird a little, thus lightening up the sky. But this is how it looked to the camera.
©2009 ShootingMyUniverse

The last three shots are with the sun to my back at various degrees. They all show good detail in the subject and beautiful blue skies that your public will love. This is a female Costa’s Hummingbird.
©2009 ShootingMyUniverse

©2009 ShootingMyUniverse

©2009 ShootingMyUniverse

I hope this has been helpful. Those new to SMU coming in from SkyWatch Friday interested in seeing more tips can click on the TIPS link to the right or the TIPS label below. My advice is free and worth every penny.

Here's last weeks video taken in the same location. You can see the pictures from the video on that day's post.


T and S said...

That was not just a cool demo Steve, those images and the explanations are very useful. Thank you for sharing this. I for sure will benefit from this...Thomas

roentarre said...

All these birding images are spetacular

The colour is amazing!

John Theberge said...

Great shots, I think we're actually going to see blue sky today, woohoo!

Anonymous said...

That was an interesting exercise Steve. Great photos.

Arija said...

Nice skywatch shots...we get plenty of blue skies here that need no adjustments too.

madcobug said...

Some great tips to go along with those fantastic shots. Thanks for sharing. Helen

Ginnymo said...

Thanks so much for the tips Steve!!! Beautiful photos!!

SAPhotographs (Joan) said...

You have it down pat Steve. Excellent images.

Tabib said...

Beautiful blue sky and beautiful photos.
Thanks for the tutorial Steve.

Martha said...

The images are great and the info too. Thanks.

Guy D said...

Stunning photos and thanks for the tips.

Have a great weekend
Regina In Pictures

Sylvia K said...

Thank you for the info and these are incredible shots! Happy SWF!

Kelly said...

I liked the videos! The hummingbird was cute...beautiful wildfowers.

Anonymous said...

The dry air of the desert also really brings out the brilliant blue skies of the desert. They always feel so vibrant and alive.

Lene said...

Amazing post - and there are lots of life in the dessert for sure :) Thankyou for sharing :)

Denise said...

Thank you for this lesson in photography. I need all the help I can get. Wonderful photos!

Denise said...

Had to come back and tell you how much I enjoyed your videos. Wonderful!

SandyCarlson said...

Great stuff here. Thanks.

Dale said...

the landscape in the first video is great - looks like it gets really really hot there. what is the bird calling in the background of the first video, btw?

i really struggle with getting well lit birds when flying directly overhead, how did you adjust the settings to show the birds so clearly from below but yet not blow out the sky. or was the photo just taken early enough in the day to have the sun light the birds from below?


p.s. I have added your blog to my blogroll

Steve B said...

Dale, You will hear Gambel's Quail, Costa's Hummingbird and White-crowned Sparrow.

These photos of the gulls overhead were taken early in the morning and the birds were high enough to be lighted from below. In such cases, you can use full framed metering or center weighted averaging.

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