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Control Extreme Contrast

2. Expose for the highlights.

This technique was a staple for slide shooters in film days. Expose so that the brightest areas look their best, then forget the dark shadows. This requires that you look for interesting bright areas and that you can afford the loss of the detail in the dark areas. It can be a dramatic way of exposing for a scene, but you have to be sure the bright areas are on good parts of the subject.

3. Expose for the shadows.

Here, you work to get an exposure that makes the shadows or dark areas have good color and tone, even though the bright areas have no detail. You need to be sure the dark areas include important parts of your subject or scene, and that nothing critical is in the overexposed bright areas. Also, be careful of distracting bright areas. Anytime something bright shows up near a corner or edge of your composition, it will be a distraction. A viewer’s eye is always attracted to bright areas, and if such areas aren’t supporting the subject in some way (such as a background behind it) or are otherwise noncompetitive, your picture will be less clear and less effective.

4. Try HDR.

High-dynamic-range (HDR) photography allows you to go beyond the limitations of the camera to capture something closer to the reality that we see with our eyes. Many photographers have only seen the "creative" application of HDR, which isn’t realistic, but that’s just a small part of the possibilities of HDR. HDR allows you to take multiple photos of the same scene, changing exposures so the camera can capture a wider range of detail than a single exposure would allow. Then you put the images into a software program (I like using Nik Software HDR Efex Pro for this) that combines the images into a final shot that holds detail and color from shadow to highlight.

5. Just say no!

Sometimes, it simply isn’t possible to get a good photograph of a subject or a scene in a particular light. Anything you try will be frustrating. You have to get out of the mind-set that you "have to" take the picture and say no to a bad shot. This will help you to find a way to say yes to a different shot, whether that’s a different angle or a different subject altogether.

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