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  1. #1
    candidrachel's Avatar
    candidrachel is offline I can see the sea!
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    Default How to photograph sunbeams

    How do you capture those wonderful sunbeams shining through windows in old ruined buildings and through trees? I did it once purely by accident but now can't remember the "proper" way to do it.

    Can anyone help please? My husband and I are going away for a weekend in March and I'd like to perfect the technique by then.
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/rachelgingell/

    "Do not wait, the time will never be just right. Start where you stand and work with whatever tools you may have at your command, and better tools will be found as you go along" - Napoleon Hill

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    dcclark's Avatar
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    Default

    It's definitely tricky. There are some things you can do "on the ground", but post-processing has a lot to do with the effect as well.

    "On the ground", be on the lookout for a bright day (or a moment when the sun comes through the clouds), in a relatively dark location, with a lot of dust or water vapor. Anything in the air will make light beams show up much more. Underexposing a bit will probably help, since most meters will probably brighten up a dark scene (making the light beams less visible). In other words, being in the right place at the right time is a large part of the problem.

    In post-processing, there are a few tricks you can use. First, good old curves can help. Bump up whatever range the beams are in (use an eyedropper tool, or guess based on the histogram, to raise up the curve only around the beams' area of brightness. Keep the rest at the same, or even darker, than they were). If you have some nice well-defined beams, you could create a new layer and add a mask, in which you hilight only the light beams. Then you can tweak that layer to your heart's content, bringing the light out while not messing with the rest.

    Others will probably have other useful tips, but those are my basic suggestions. Good luck!
    David Clark Photography, project 365 photo blog, flickr.
    It is OK to edit and repost my photos on the DPS forums only.

  3. #3
    candidrachel's Avatar
    candidrachel is offline I can see the sea!
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    Thanks for the ideas. I didn't realize that it's quite a tricky thing to capture. It looks straightforward in books lol! I'll definately give it a try and post my attempts for critique.

    Thanks again and if anyone else has any tips to add that'll be appreciated too.
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/rachelgingell/

    "Do not wait, the time will never be just right. Start where you stand and work with whatever tools you may have at your command, and better tools will be found as you go along" - Napoleon Hill

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