Since the camera has been invented, the man has always tried to copy one of the greatest wonder that our body possesses: the eye. Unfortunately, despite it has passed far beyond a hundred years from the first time that the man “captured the light”, we are still far from overcome Mother Nature.
Try to think about the last beautiful sunset that you have witnessed by the sea: you will certainly remember the light and the warm tones, the marvelous colored reflexes of the clouds on the sea and the golden sand. But I am also certain of your disappointment when you tried to take a picture of that moment. The fact that you have taken a picture with your cell or with your beloved reflex, it does not matter: if you have exposed on the sky, the beach has become a silhouette, vice versa exposing on the beach the sky will have become completely white. Why? Indeed simple: in the visible spectrum, your eye sees a lot better than your camera.
The parameter that describes this behavior is called Dynamic Range, which defines the difference between the minimum and maximum value of brightness that a support succeeds in recording.
Basically therefore the Dynamic Range points out the ability of your photographic camera to contemporarily see details in very clear areas and very dark areas of the scene.
Our eye therefore it has a superior dynamic range to the sensor of our photographic camera.
By how much? About twice.
This explains why in front of a beautiful sunset, we succeed in seeing details in the whole scene, both in the sky strongly illuminated, and on the beach or on the ground in front of us.
The unity of measurement of the Dynamic Range is the Exposure Value (EV) and at the moment in which this article is written, a good DSLR has a superior Dynamic Range to 13.
We could enter into technical detail of how the photon interacts on our sensor, but I believe that further to annoy you to death I would not be of any help in your next outdoors trip in field.
But if even the best of cameras has a Dynamic Range which is half of the human eye, how can we hope to be able to shoot a beautiful sunset or a wonderful sunrise?
There are different methods to overcome the problem, but in the end we can gather them into two macros families:
- Techniques of more or less advanced post production (HDR, Digital Blending, Luminosity Mask,.. ),
- Use of photographic filters
Which of the two is it better? I think it’s a bit ‘like asking whether it is better Nikon or Canon.. Personally I prefer to apply the second solution, the photographic filters, for several reasons:
- I prefer to spend my time in field and not on Photoshop
- Having a “clean” shot in camera ensures best quality
- There are filters that can not be reproduced in post production
In the series of articles that I will propose you in the next appointments, we will explore together the world of filters, not only to know how to choose what is good to have with you in your backpack depending on your photographic style, but also how to use them well on the field.
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