A Silhoutted Golden Gate Bridge

It's one of those days. You know it's going to be a colorful sunrise. You wake up early and drive to the coldest and windiest part of the Bay Area so that you can capture the architectural wonder amidst a dramatic sky. And then you come home and realize you messed up!

So, what could I have done better here? It may not be obvious at first, but look at the bridge--it's almost silhouetted. I was enamored by the beauty of the sky that I forgot about the beauty of the bridge! 

Here's the challenge: the dynamic range of a camera is not as high as the dynamic range of the human eye. What that means, essentially, is that your human eye can see bright and dark areas correctly at the same time, but your camera can't. In order to capture the colors of the sky (the brighter part of the scene), I had to use a really high shutter speed--a high shutter speed lets very little light in--this is good because, otherwise, the sky would have been over-exposed. But because of this the bridge, which is the darker part of the scene, didn't get enough light it needed for it to be properly exposed. 

So, how do you solve this problem? There are several ways, but one way to do it is to take two different shots--one with the sky correctly exposed, and one with the bridge correctly exposed, and combine them both afterwards using a tool like Photoshop. Have you seen the HDR mode in your smartphone? This is what your phone does when you use the HDR mode. Your phone captures multiple shots, each with a different exposure, and then combines them for you automatically.