PHOTO SKILLS: EX­PO­SURE BLEND­ING

IF YOU NEED TO EX­PAND YOUR CAM­ERA’S DY­NAMIC RANGE BUT WANT TO AVOID EX­TREME HDR EF­FECTS, JOR­DAN BUT­TERS DEMON­STRATES HOW MAN­UAL BRACK­ET­ING AND EX­PO­SURE BLEND­ING EN­SURES CON­TROLLED RE­SULTS

Digital SLR Photography - - Contents - CAM­ERA: NIKON D750 / LENS: NIKKOR AF- S 16- 35MM F/ 4G

Cap­ture mul­ti­ple ex­po­sures to ex­pand your cam­era’s dy­namic range – here’s the shoot­ing tech­nique

WHAT COMES TO mind when you think of HDR pho­tog­ra­phy? Ul­tra- de­tailed cityscapes? Per­fectly- ex­posed coastal views? Or the retina- melt­ing ini­tial ef­forts that your hard drive would rather for­get? For me, it’s def­i­nitely the lat­ter! HDR pho­tog­ra­phy gets a bit of a bad rap from some pho­tog­ra­phers and, to be hon­est, it’s easy to see why – it’s an ef­fect that’s often overused by be­gin­ners who get car­ried away with au­to­mated HDR soft­ware and turn ev­ery dial right up to 11! Even with more re­strained use, such soft­ware often doesn’t do a great job of cre­at­ing pleas­ing re­sults sim­ply be­cause it mashes to­gether shad­ows and high­lights across the en­tire im­age, with­out know­ing whether the sky should be light, and the shad­ows need to be at least a lit­tle bit dark.

De­spite the neg­a­tiv­ity, high dy­namic range pho­tog­ra­phy does de­serve a place in most pho­tog­ra­pher’s reper­toires. If, for ex­am­ple, you’re caught out with­out your fil­ters and the scene ex­ceeds your cam­era’s dy­namic range, then you need to use HDR tech­niques to record a bal­anced im­age. Or, if you’re faced with a scene that fil­ters sim­ply can­not work for, such as I have here, then know­ing how to prac­tise HDR pho­tog­ra­phy with con­trol and re­straint is an im­por­tant skill. By man­u­ally blend­ing mul­ti­ple ex­po­sures to­gether ( see page 42 for de­tails), you can avoid the over- sat­u­rated and hy­per- de­tailed re­sults often as­so­ci­ated with HDR soft­ware, and cap­ture well- bal­anced ex­po­sures in any sit­u­a­tion. Here’s how you do it…

1 c amer a set tings Lock your cam­era off on a tri­pod and select aper­ture- pri­or­ity mode. Fo­cus and lock to man­ual fo­cus to pre­vent the fo­cus from chang­ing. Pick your set­tings as per nor­mal land­scape pho­tog­ra­phy – I’ve gone for f/ 8 at ISO 100, giv­ing me a shut­ter speed of 1/ 200sec. A test shot con­firms this is a good ‘ av­er­age’ ex­po­sure, but the sky is blown out and the near wall is in dark shadow.

2 You

could use aeb… In or­der to cap­ture the dif­fer­ent ex­po­sures needed for the high­lights and shad­ows, one method is to use your cam­era’s AEB ( Auto Ex­po­sure Brack­et­ing) func­tion, if avail­able. This varies be­tween cam­eras, but usu­ally you can select the num­ber of ex­po­sures and the dif­fer­ence in stops be­tween each ex­po­sure. For ex­am­ple, the LCD above shows three frames at one- stop in­ter­vals.

4 or

use e xposure com­pen­sa­tion… An al­ter­na­tive method is to use ex­po­sure com­pen­sa­tion to record your ad­di­tional ex­po­sures. Be­cause I know that I only need two more ex­po­sures ( one for the sky and one for the fore­ground brick wall), this is just as quick and easy to do, and al­lows you to cap­ture as many ex­po­sures as you need at any half or third- stop in­cre­ments that you de­sire un­til you have enough. 5 br acket e xpo­sures Cap­ture an im­age for your high­lights ( mine was cap­tured at - 2EV) and one for your shad­ows ( mine was + 0.7EV). Check both to en­sure that you’ve not clipped the high­lights in your high­light ex­po­sure and that your shad­ows have been lifted suf­fi­ciently in your shadow ex­po­sure. Shoot more ex­po­sures if you wish – it’s al­ways bet­ter to have too many than not enough.

Com­par­i­son set: As you can see on the left, if I cap­ture a good base ex­po­sure for the scene, the sky is blown out and the shad­ows are too dark. Fil­ters can’t help in this sit­u­a­tion, but blend­ing mul­ti­ple ex­po­sures can.

the per­fec t blend... This im­age uses three blended ex­po­sures – a main ex­po­sure, one for the sky and one for the brick wall. Turn the page to find out how to edit your own ex­po­sure blend.

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