Taming 16-18 stops of dynamic range with M43

Started Jul 31, 2018 | Discussions thread
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avalvo Senior Member • Posts: 1,269
Taming 16-18 stops of dynamic range with M43

So with all the discussion about M43 sensor tech, and Olympus new camera, Nikon's new MLC, etc., I thought I go out and do some photography with the tools I have.

This image is one I have tried a few times, but there is lots of range in brightness to tame here.  Its not easy to cram in all in to one image that represents what the eye really sees.  I could have done this with the D850, but I had the EM1-II with me, so we go with the tools that we have because here I was very much working off nature's schedule. Frankly, I don't think the D850 would have offered much more in this case.

A few caveats on this image.  This is an in camera composite.  The moon was actually positioned a bit more to camera right.  It does set near this position in Winter, but the issue is that the Sun is also in a different position and that results in just too much contrast to realistically tame in one image.

This image was done with a combination of lenses to create the proper proportionality between the moon and foreground.   I was very much trying to replicate what I had seen last Winter, but was unable to capture to my liking.  So, how do we deal with a near full moon which needs to be exposed at around 1/500, a sky that is probably a 10 sec exposure and a foreground that needs like 60 to 90 secs.

Step 1  The moon:  I remembered where it needed to be and how it should look in the final image.  I set the EM1 for a double exposure and used the 40-150 pro at 40mm and properly positioned the moon.  I figured this would keep a proportionality that was close to what my eye saw.  I exposed the moon at 1/500 and around F5

Step 2  The foreground and sky:  Now that I had my first exposure I needed to tame what was about a 4-6 stop difference between the sky and foreground.  The sun is way off to camera left and still has not broken the horizon.  It was just beginning to light foreground. This required a 4 stop reverse grad filter (Nisi).  I used the Oly 7-14mm at around 8mm and the exposure was about 60 secs at F6.3 - might have been 90 sec.  This gave me a nice in camera capture that I was happy with. Both captures were at ISO Low.

Step 3 post processing:  There was not much to do here.  I'm a big fan of doing all that I can in camera.  I shot Raw and Jpeg.  The Raw was processed in OV3 with minor tweaks to exposure, sharpening, and saturation.

So, as you can imaging this took a bit of preplanning.  I'd been thinking this image might work in the Summer months, as the Sun would be positioned far more to camera right, almost opposite the moon and wall .  When woke up at 4am yesterday, I had no intention of going out, but I saw the moon and the sky.  Then I knew I might have a chance to get what I wanted.

All-in-all, I'm happy with what I got.  There is lots of detail and sharpness.  I can easily take the final image to 30 inches on the long side.  It just goes to prove that these tools are really capable when we think through the problem.  As you might imagine, it took a good amount of time to mount a lens, set the camera, frame the moon, change a lens, reframe, set exposure, focus for max depth, and position a filter - all in changing light.  As such, I got just one chance and made only one image.

I hope this helps some folks out there who are using or thinking about M43s.



 avalvo's gear list:avalvo's gear list
Fujifilm GFX 100
Nikon D850 Olympus E-M1
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