Monday, August 31, 2015

Wanna Get Better Images? Stand In Front Of More Interesting Subjects

Okay, it doesn't hurt to stand in front of a beautiful woman with flawless skin.  Casual portraits can be had in almost any circumstance.  Today's image is of a dancer at an Indian Pow Wow held over the weekend.  She was just walking out of the tribal dance circle and was unaware of my taking her picture.  (She was, as were all the dancers, aware that the "tourists" were snapping away, but none knew if a camera was pointed at them.)  The current plan is to take several images shot over the weekend and make a composite depicting the ceremonial activities of the day.  It'll be a fairly complex piece, so it'll take a while before it sees the light of day.  There were a couple considerations when the original shots were taken and (so far) minimal post processing done to today's image.  To find out what the thought process was, hit the "Read More".

 First, the day was going from harsh, open, bright sunlight to defuse cloud cover.  Based on the lack of big time shadows and highlights I'd say today's image was one of the times the sun was behind a cloud.  It sounds somewhat counterintuitive, but I raised the Exposure Value (EV) compensation by 2/3 of a stop.  If I had the Highlight warning screen on there would have been "blinkies" all over the place.  I've found that what shows up on the LCD screen of the camera isn't always what you'll be working with when shooting RAW.  I try to bump the Histogram(s) up right next to the edge of the graph.  In Adobe Photoshop Lightroom (LR) I'll slide the Whites Slider to the right and find an initial solid white point showing up (in many cases) at a value between three and ten.  My typical approach is to have the maximum white in an image at about ten points below that first white highlight warning.  That gives me detail in the max whites.  It also means the max white point is often a negative number.

Shooting to the right of the histogram also insures the max blacks aren't going to start off being blocked up.  Trying to pull detail out of a maxed out black is a sure way of introducing noise into the shadows of an image.  Starting to the right allows you to introduce the amount of rich black you want in an image.  Much better control.

So, to recap:
  • Stand in front of interesting subjects
  • Shoot to the right of the histogram
  • Set the white point slightly below stark white
  • Set the black point slightly into the max black