Thursday, June 21, 2012

On the Range...

Greetings, volks. Welcome to Hohenfels Volks, THE place for our place! Today’s weather turned out to be quite nice. There is a wide variety of things and places to shoot in our little part of Germany. Clouds and fields are just coming around to being incredibly photogenic.

Today we’re going to take a quick look at contrast and exposure. When we refer to contrast, we’re generally speaking about the range of values within an image or scene. From the brightest areas to the darkest is our range, and the contrast ratios can be quite high for a full range scene to rather low for a lower contrast image, such as a portrait.

As a general rule, higher contrast images tend to be more dramatic, while lower contrast images run toward the softer side. That’s the reason we call lower contrast “softer.” An image’s sharpness is also dependant upon contrast. When you decrease contrast, you can quickly decrease sharpness if your not careful.

Contrast can be varied by exposure. When an image runs toward high key, it loses contrast due the lower values being absent. The inverse is true in low-key images, though to a lesser extent. By adding shadow and decreasing brightness or overall exposure, contrast can apparently be increased. Decreasing exposure by 1/3 stop can be just the trick. The same can be said for color contrast, which is the range of tones in a single color within your image.

Drama can be added through darkening, and tranquility, or stillness, through lightening. Local contrast can be adjusted within a narrow range of tones, improving appearance, detail, and bringing interest to an area within the image. By using levels for general contrast adjustments, and curves for local effects, an interesting image can be created.

Combined with visualizing the desired outcome, or range of outcomes, limitless possibilities exist within each image. By exposing your brightest areas for M+2 and your darkest for M-3, a visual feast can be created from one shot, if done right. Visualize the effect of several adjustments and contrast ranges, and then set the shot so that each one can be accomplished using limited adjustments.

I hope this gives you something to think about and play with. Throw in some work with this week’s exercise, and you’ll be sure to get something that fills with that pride of accomplishment that comes from a shot well made.

Take care and enjoy the rest of the week!

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