Change your shut­ter speed for eye-grab­bing vari­a­tions in de­tail and bright­ness

Digital Photograper - - Techniques -

Ex­po­sure is ar­guably the most im­por­tant con­sid­er­a­tion in the pho­to­graphic process, since the amount of light reach­ing the cam­era’s sen­sor di­rectly in­flu­ences all im­age char­ac­ter­is­tics, in­clud­ing bright­ness, de­tail and colour. Re­gard­ing bright­ness, the in­ten­sity and po­si­tion of light sources within the frame is of ut­most rel­e­vance, as this con­trols where view­ers first look within the com­po­si­tion. While cor­rectly us­ing this de­vice is a ba­sic pho­to­graphic skill, ex­tra care must be taken when at­tempt­ing cre­ative tech­niques. It is easy for the pho­tog­ra­pher to be­come pre­oc­cu­pied with their artis­tic in­tent, thereby for­get­ting the im­pli­ca­tions for base­line com­po­si­tion and im­age qual­ity.

The re­la­tion­ship be­tween ex­po­sure and colour is an­other of­ten over­looked fac­tor and must be ac­knowl­edged when al­ter­ing ei­ther com­po­nent, if a pre­dictable re­sult can be achieved. This sym­bio­sis can ei­ther make or break a cre­ative at­tempt – a mis­match can pro­duce an un­com­fort­able con­tra­dic­tion of at­mos­phere, while ex­ploit­ing the align­ment of bright­ness and tone to meet or op­pose viewer ex­pec­ta­tion can pro­duce sur­pris­ing and en­gag­ing pho­to­graphs. The pro­fes­sional strat­egy for en­sur­ing qual­ity re­sults is to first work at set­ting up a ‘cor­rect’ bal­ance – for ex­am­ple match­ing white bal­ance to the am­bi­ent light­ing in the scene and cal­cu­lat­ing a cen­tred ex­po­sure – then de­cid­ing how to ad­just this bal­ance for greater drama. This ap­proach can be ap­plied to any cre­ative pho­to­graphic tech­nique, as the first step helps pro­tect against com­mon be­gin­ner mis­takes and guar­an­tee qual­ity con­ti­nu­ity through­out your port­fo­lio.

A pop­u­lar cre­ative method is to ex­per­i­ment with dif­fer­ent com­bi­na­tions of each as­pect. Try mix­ing var­i­ous shut­ter speed ef­fects with bright­ness or colour tem­per­a­ture, to see how this al­ters the at­mos­phere of the scene, or al­ter­na­tively com­bine vary­ing white bal­ance set­tings with both bright and darker ex­po­sures. By finely tun­ing the in­ter­play of each char­ac­ter of the scene, it is pos­si­ble to sim­u­late nat­u­ral light­ing con­di­tions in novel sce­nar­ios, for a unique style. Re­gard­less of which tech­nique you de­cide on, the next pro­fes­sional step is to as­sess the nec­es­sary strength of the ef­fects in use, even if this is a sim­ple choice of shut­ter speed, for long­ex­po­sure blur­ring. Vi­tally, the strong­est ef­fects are not al­ways the most im­pact­ful and overuse can ac­tu­ally im­pede the ex­tent to which an im­age meets your cre­ative ex­pec­ta­tions.

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