A couple of weeks ago I went out to Skyline Drive again to take pictures. Got there in time to capture a nice pink sunrise.
An image like this you normally can’t capture. Here I’m shooting directly into the sun which is going to be very very bright. But you can also see the trees on the side of the mountain facing away from the sun. That side would normally be in the shade since the sun isn’t high enough in the sky to illuminate that area.
Using film you’d try to capture this scene using a neutral density graduated filter. Using one of these filters causes the sky area to become darker, not as bright. What you are trying to do is make the brightness of the sky area match the brightness of the mountains so that you can properly expose the entire scene. It works fairly well, but with modern technology there’s another way.
With digital photography you can capture multiple exposures of the scene and then combine those exposures on the computer later. This can either be done with a photo editor where you take the sky area from one picture, the mountains from another, and place them together. Or you can use software that will combine the various exposures for you so that you don’t have blown out highlights or dark shadows lacking detail.
One thing that also happens when you use software to combine the images, the colors can be enhanced. They will appear more vibrant. This can happen because the software will select the very vibrant bright colors to use when it combines the multiple images together.