Macinaw City, Michigan.
This week Sofia challenges us to play with exposure either in-camera or in post-processing. She writes, “For this challenge, it is up to you how you work on exposure. You might, like me, prefer to use shutter speed to change the exposure balance when shooting. You can also play with aperture. Or you can have fun changing the exposure settings while editing. The idea here is to see how the mood of any photo depends on its exposure.” You can read her entire challenge post here.
One of my favorite things to do in post-processing is to make day into night. With a little help from Luminar Neo, I was even able to turn the light on in the lighthouse. With the white background on my blogsite, you may like to view the image on a dark background. Click on the photo to view it on my Flickr site. For reference, here’s the “real” image captured mid-day.
Instead of going “to the dark side” to create a low-key image, sometimes I like to go in the opposite direction to create a high-key image with signs of purposeful overexposure. The image above is a composite featuring an overexposed view of the beach layered with a couple of “light leaks”, images of textures that add an abstract nature to the image.
Black-and-white images can be enhanced by the use of low- or high-key processing. I used a filter in Lightroom to lower the exposure of this image. I then started tweaking the individual color channels to brighten and darken certain parts of the image. I don’t use this technique often, but I thought it would be a fun experiment specifically for this challenge.
If you’ve seen those photos of water that is silky smooth in the ocean, or as in this waterfall example, you’ve seen the results of a long exposure. It’s best to use a tripod for these shots, though I didn’t have one with me when this image was taken in Mount Ranier National Park. I propped the camera on a rock and held it as still as I could. Then I stopped the lens down to f/18 in manual mode and set the shutter speed to 1/4 second. The waterfall was mostly in the shade or I would have needed a neutral density filter to block the light that hit the sensor for a relatively long time. With a neutral density filter, I could have slowed the shutter down to a second or even longer to create an even smoother water flow. Without a tripod, though, a one-second-long exposure would surely have increased motion blur. A close examination of this image on my Flickr site will reveal a small amount of blur as I apparently moved the camera ever so slightly when I pressed the shutter button. I should have used the self-timer.
When I’m not using my cellphone, I most often use exposure bracketing to allow me to create images with a high dynamic range. This sequence of images was captured from the top of the Skylon Tower and features the Canadian falls as viewed from Niagara Falls, Ontario.
Setting up the camera for brackets allows me to capture three images in succession with a single press and hold of the shutter button. The first image is captured with what the exposure meter in the camera thinks is the best exposure for the shot.
The second image in the set reduces the exposure by one stop. You can see the difference in the highlights of the mist in the waterfall when you compare it to the first image.
The third image is overexposed. Clearly the highlights in the mist are more “blown out.” However, there is much greater detail in the bluff at the left end of the falls. For several years, I’ve used Adobe Lightroom to merge the three images into a single high dynamic range (HDR) image. Recently, Luminar Neo has added HDR Merge to its collection of tools.
In the merged image, highlights are toned down in the mist and the darker areas in the image left of the falls are clearly visible. Some HDR photographers create 5- or even 7-exposure bracket images. That’s best for high quality enlarged prints, but for my use in blog posts, three-image brackets are typically sufficient.
There’s another reason to shoot brackets all of the time, even when the goal isn’t to create HDR images. When I am unsure of the exact exposure, or the light meter in the camera gets the exposure wrong, I can choose from three images to find one that is most correct for exposure and simply process that one.
Thanks again to Sofia for her take on exposure and how photographers can use shutter, aperature, or ISO settings to help set a mood or tone to an image. For viewing on a darker background, my images for this challenge can be found here in 2K. Next week, it’s Anne’s turn to host the challenge. If you’d like to join in but aren’t sure how, you can read about it here.