Mas­ter­ing ex­po­sure for cre­ativ­ity & pre­ci­sion

Practical Photography (UK) - - Coastal Masterclass -

EV­ERY TIME you press the shut­ter on your cam­era, light hits the sen­sor and cre­ates a pic­ture. That might seem ob­vi­ous, but in or­der to pro­duce an im­age that’s nei­ther too dark nor too light, there is al­ways an in­ter­play be­tween the three sides of the ex­po­sure tri­an­gle, as aper­ture, shut­ter speed and ISO are bal­anced to cre­ate the best pos­si­ble ex­po­sure for a given scene.

But while the ba­sics of ex­po­sure may be a sim­ple bal­anc­ing act, tak­ing full con­trol of the way in which your cam­era exposes each shot is key to not only pro­duc­ing a coastal land­scapes full of vi­brant tones, but also hav­ing the abil­ity to add an amaz­ing amount of drama to an oth­er­wise static scene.

Go­ing man­ual

As we touched on in the pre­vi­ous sec­tion, the ma­jor­ity of coastal land­scape images are go­ing to be taken at medium to small aper­tures in or­der to max­imise depth-offield. It might seem sen­si­ble then to set your cam­era up for aper­ture-pri­or­ity, dial in the smallest lens open­ing and let the cam­era take care of the shut­ter speed.

Mod­ern cam­eras boast some amaz­ing tech and the on­board light me­ters and var­i­ous ex­po­sure modes can an­a­lyse a scene and come up with a de­cent ex­po­sure in most cases. But when there’s a wide range of tones in a scene – which is of­ten the case in coastal pho­tog­ra­phy – the built-in com­puter may not al­ways give you the best re­sults. As the point of the ex­er­cise is to pro­duce the best shot that you pos­si­bly can, while learn­ing more about the way your cam­era works, it’s time to set that dial to man­ual and take full con­trol of the set­tings.

Re­tain­ing in­for­ma­tion

So what are the ad­van­tages of go­ing man­ual with your ex­po­sures? For a start, it’s vi­tal to un­der­stand that RAW files con­tain an aw­ful lot of in­for­ma­tion that may not be read­ily seen when you’re just re­view­ing your images on the cam­era’s rear screen. But the re­ally im­por­tant thing to re­mem­ber is where they re­tain this info. A RAW file will hang on to much more data in the shadow ar­eas where poste­dit­ing can bring back de­tail that isn’t al­ways no­tice­able when re­view­ing. By con­trast, once a high­light has blown out – or has clipped – the de­tail is lost and can never then be re­cov­ered.

Us­ing full man­ual con­trol and re­view­ing the his­togram of each shot to en­sure a smooth dy­namic curve will pay div­i­dends when you load your images up to edit them, as you will be able to


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