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Thread: Problem photographing sun

  1. #1
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    Problem photographing sun

    Sunrises and sunsets have been quite different around here due bushfire smoke being trapped in the valley I live in. The sun has a intense bright pinkish/red colour, which I'm trying to photograph. The photos of the sun turn out pretty much whitish, changing the white balance does not help.

    Any suggestions how to capture the true sun colour?

    Thanks.

  2. #2
    Steaphany's Avatar
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    Re: Problem photographing sun

    Xeni,

    Welcome to CiC and what model camera and lens are you using ? Also what exposure and exposure mode are you using ?

    Another factor that could contribute to desaturating the image is your camera's sensitivity to Infrared. In most cameras, the on chip Bayer filters loose selectivity and come close to equally passing Infrared. An image of the Sun, which is very strong in Infrared, could become desaturated if the camera's internal Infrared blocking filter is insufficient. ( A deffinite possibility when the Sun is in the field of view. ) A point to note, fire fighters and military working under thick smoke conditions will wear Infrared goggles specifically because Infrared will pass through most smoke while visible light becomes attenuated, so where you see the light reduced by the smoke, the Infrared, that you can't see, shines right through.

    I run into issues such as this often and if I'm not specifically out to capture the Infrared aspect of a scene, I'll use film when photographing scenes with bright Infrared sources. If you have a film camera handy, try shooting the Sunrise/Sunset with it and see how the images turn out. To then bring your image into the digital world, just have the negative scanned.

  3. #3
    krispix's Avatar
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    Re: Problem photographing sun

    Hi Xeni,

    I agree with Steaphany, without some more data it's difficult to make a judgement call. Can you upload the image that you're having trouble with so we can have a look at it.
    My immediate view would be that you might be relying on the camera's light meter. In situations like this you can't do that. Try to imagine the meter in the camera; it's trying to gather all the light sources and average them out to give you a 50% grey card. In most circumstances this will work OK because your image will be (more or less) within the dynamic range of the sensor. When we come to the good old sun we're way off track and the meter is saying, "That's a relatively small area of the image and it's very bright. I'm just going to let that burn out and concentrate on everything else." The alternative would be a still burnt out sun surrounded by lots of black. You have to appreciate just how powerful the sun is - That's why they told you at school never to look at it, and on no account should you touch it, 'cos it's hot!
    Try to get a meter reading at a point about 30 degrees off the sun (so it's not in the viewfinder), hold the shutter button halfway down and swing the camera back into position for your shot. This will still burn the sun out, and there's nothing you can do about that, but it will, hopefully, capture the rich colours around it that you're after.

  4. #4
    Moderator Dave Humphries's Avatar
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    Re: Problem photographing sun

    Also of course, be careful of your eyes and sensor!

  5. #5

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    Re: Problem photographing sun

    Xeni: Just reading through the posts I'm wondering if your camera is set on 'auto' or 'p'. If so your camera will be trying to give you an overall average exposure (as Chris pointed out) based on your auto exposure setting (centre weighted, evaluative, spot etc.); I don't think that's what you want.

    You could try a technique for sunsets which I read of some time ago - get yourself set up (tripod, timer, manual aperture and shutter speed) then turn your back to the sun, point your camera up towards the sky at 45 deg. and take a light reading. Use that reading for your shot. I'd also take a couple of shots under exposed by one f/stop and over exposed by one f/stop.

    I don't know what sort of camera you have but if it has raw I'd use that.

    Also - very important. You need to move quickly; at sunrise/sunset the lighting conditions change very quickly.

    Good luck, Dave D
    Last edited by accystan; 19th September 2011 at 07:08 PM.

  6. #6

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    Re: Problem photographing sun

    I have tried various ways of taking shot into the sun and find a fairly simple way . I have a 3 stop ND filter which I srew on and snap away. Of course results vary, ie with position of sun and other such factors, but with practise you can take great photos. Canon 50D with 15-85 hanging on the front. Worth trying.

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