Thursday, February 6, 2020

Purposely underexposing: Working another photo from Delhi, India

In the last blog post, I explained how I captured a really beautiful moment and the thought process in taking the photo. I had numerous comments from people who appreciated that blog post, so I that I would post another one for all of you.

This time the photo is not a portrait, but like the photo from the last post, it definitely sets to capture a mood.

We were walking through Humayun's Tomb in Delhi when we came across this doorway. At first I was attracted to the pattern of the door, but then I noticed the really pretty shadow that was cast on the floor in front of me. I thought that this was a great time to teach our guests about exposure compensation and how it would greatly improve the photo.

I took a photo of the scene without changing any exposure compensation to show everyone how over exposed it was. The mood was lost.

I then changed the exposure compensation of my Canon 5D Mark IV to -2 to purposely under expose the shot. Dramatically under exposing accomplishes four things:

* It protected my highlights so that they were not blown out (so bright that there is no data in the bright areas of the scene).

* It darkened the shadows which adds drama to the photo.

* It accentuates the pattern of the door and the pattern on the floor.

* It creates an overall mood and encourages you to look at the photo a little longer to follow the patterns.

For those wondering, here were the settings in my camera:

Canon 5D Mark IV with the Canon 24-105mm lens
ISO 320
1/400 sec
Exposure comp -2

I did minor retouching in Adobe PhotoShop to pull the shadows up slightly and pull the highlights down.

Next time you see a scene that is dark and moody, don't be afraid to set your camera to darken the scene even more. If you think that is crazy, check out photographers like Cliff Mautner who has made a career doing this.

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