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Does a blown-out sun matter?

Philip R
Member Moderator

In the excellent Photocraft editing demos on Zoom yesterday (1 December), care was taken to avoid a blown-out sun. Interestingly, in this week's Amateur Photographer, photographic guru, Martin Evening, seems to discount the need to have any detail in the sun:

Just because your camera can capture a wide dynamic range, or the tools are there to let you extend that range, doesn’t mean you need to preserve all the highlight or all the shadow detail. Unless you need to record sunspots on the surface of the sun, it is only the non-specular highlight detail at the highlight end that matters.

So, in any scene where there are bright sunlight reflections, you’ll want to allow these to clip. And at the shadow end, do you always need to see detail? Some images will have more impact if they have solid black shadows. It is perfectly acceptable to expose for a specific range of tones and let everything else go to solid black or white.

Perhaps we've all been worrying too much about correctly exposing the sun? But as for the moon, that's a different matter!

The whole article can be read at: k">

Topic starter Posted : 02/12/2021 11:47 am
Diddy Dodds
Member Moderator

Thanks for that Philip - an interesting article. He explains something I’ve never really understood. The response of a camera sensor to light is linear, but in the image files we can edit, there are many more tones of grey at the highlight end of the histogram than there are at the shadows end.

It appears that the response is linear in the RAW file that the camera records. However, during RAW conversion, the gamma tone curve is adjusted to make it correspond closer to human vision. The human eye has a logarithmic response to light, compressing it’s reaction to higher light levels.

Apparently, the human eye has a dynamic range of about 22 stops. I wonder why none of the machines we think we are so smart at inventing come close to what nature has developed? Mind you, we’ve not had hundreds of millions of years to do it in.

Posted : 02/12/2021 2:23 pm
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