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08-22-2014, 10:19 AM   #1
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How to deal with the light
Lens: 35mm f2.4 Camera: K-50 Photo Location: incahuasit ISO: 400 Shutter Speed: 1/3000s Aperture: F3.5 



I took this candid picture of the guide at incahuasi. I was curious to know how you (people of pentaxforum) would deal with such strong light contrast especially when the face is shaded. I have been traveling a bit in the highlands so I have been dealing with this in a lot of images. I hate raising the darks on the tone curve then I lose shadows. I think what I would do in this case is lower the darker 75% of the tone curve. I think I like to keep the background over exposed. Then play with the tone curve to raise the area corresponding to his face.

Thank you in advanced

08-22-2014, 10:28 AM   #2
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In this particular case, I wouldn't deal with it at all. The heavy shadow on the face here adds a drama that I think would be lost if lightened. The only thing I might do would be to mask the background and lower the darks part of the curve to add a bit of detail to it. (the background)
08-22-2014, 10:43 AM   #3
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I ended up raising the EV +.5 to expose his face properly as it seemed a little under exposed. I think that gives his face a nicer color.
Then I lowered the brights.
The problem being that the background is a bit blown out but I can live with that as it draws emphasis to the subject.
I sharpened a bit digitally outline emphasis. Not detail as it was causing problems with his face (dry skin on lips reflecting too much light.
then I raised contrast.
08-22-2014, 11:20 AM   #4
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Easy enough to bring the subject out of the shadows but it does lose some of the drama and impact - take your pick ...
... is it a picture about a harsh unforgiving environment or about a man sitting in the sun or something else all together........


Last edited by wildman; 09-07-2014 at 12:09 AM.
08-22-2014, 11:22 AM   #5
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That's the problem with travel pictures--you can't go back when the light is better. I think the approach you use now--expose for the face and let the highlights blow out if need be--is an acceptable compromise. Another approach would be, if you can get your shutter speed down to 1/180, is to use your camera's built-in flash to add a little light to the shadows. Use 'M' mode and adjust the flash output to be ~2stops under ambient.
08-22-2014, 11:57 AM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by wildman Quote
Easy enough to normalize but it does lose some of the drama and impact take your pick ...
Hmmm, Thankyou wildman. Normalizing the image does lose drama and it gives the image a kind of over processed look that I try to avoid. I think I will aim for a happy medium, so I can retain some of the drama, but the mans skin goes well against the rocks in the background.


QuoteOriginally posted by johnyates Quote
That's the problem with travel pictures--you can't go back when the light is better. I think the approach you use now--expose for the face and let the highlights blow out if need be--is an acceptable compromise. Another approach would be, if you can get your shutter speed down to 1/180, is to use your camera's built-in flash to add a little light to the shadows. Use 'M' mode and adjust the flash output to be ~2stops under ambient.
@Johny To an extent that is the problem I have with all the photos I take as I take street candids. I try to avoid flash as I dont want to burn anyones eyes out (or alert them to the fact I am taking their photo). Also, the sun the the Peruvian highlands is incredibly intense (this foto was at 1/2500). Shooting anything less that 1/1000 (f 8 1/1200 ish if towards sun) is very hard unless you step into the shade in which case 3.5 1/160 is what you should aim for (for a portrait) . It makes life very hard when shooting in the city where you constantly changing light because of the buildings. I shoot in Tav to give me the control I need in terms of aperture and shutter speed. I used to shoot in A mode but I cant stand it when the camera opts for iso 100 and makes a picture blurry when it could have been comfortably shot at iso 500. Normally I try to expose in my head aiming for aperture ~400.


Thank you all for your help. I will keep editing (posting here and on flickr https://www.flickr.com/photos/41511062@N02/ if anything worthwhile comes up)

I take very few pictures less than+- 200 pictures is my batch from august 16th to present, so I am almost done.

Last edited by nicofish; 08-22-2014 at 12:03 PM.
08-22-2014, 02:29 PM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by wildman Quote
Easy enough to bring the subject out of the shadows
I'm with you on this, a wee tweak on the shadows slider for me.
08-22-2014, 02:43 PM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by wildman Quote
Easy enough to bring the subject out of the shadows but it does lose some of the drama and impact - take your pick ... ... is it a picture about a harsh unforgiving environment or about a man sitting in the sun or something else all together........
I think you are right what I have to clear here is the concept behind the photograph. I think I am going to go with the edit I posted except I will lower the contrast a bit. It seems that now a day the default setting for candids is that high contrast black and white you posted with out consideration for the subject. Thankyou, you helped a lot

08-22-2014, 03:00 PM   #9
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I would use even just the pop up flash in that situation. I will underexpose the background by a stop then maybe +2 on the flash depending on distance.
08-23-2014, 03:01 AM   #10
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Hi

Apart from just brightening up the face (not too much), a light sharpening to accentuate the harsh light even more and a slightly tighter crop would benefit the image, me thinks.

Last edited by Schraubstock; 11-01-2014 at 04:25 PM.
08-23-2014, 09:22 AM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by dtmateojr Quote
I would use even just the pop up flash in that situation. I will underexpose the background by a stop then maybe +2 on the flash depending on distance.
If you want to deal with it at the moment, this is the answer. Otherwise, we just have to recognize the limitations of our sensors and deal with it. I think you did about as well as a person could do in your initial exposure. Much more exposure and you would have started to lose detail in the guy's shirt and the background. You can recover a lot of shadow detail, but once a highlight is blown out, it's gone. In this situation, I think a bit of HDR is called for, even if it's created from a single RAW image. How you decide to balance out everything is what makes the image yours. As wildman said, "... is it a picture about a harsh unforgiving environment or about a man sitting in the sun or something else all together?" I believe photography is about trying to show something specific to our viewers. Decide what you want to show, then use your processing to achieve that.
08-23-2014, 12:41 PM   #12
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I do not use flash ever as I do not want to blind my subjects. Additionally, to those that recommend the use of the pop-up flash it carries a restriction of 1/180 I f I am not mistaken. shooting at 1/180 would be almost impossible considering the shutter speed for this image is 1/2500. I would have had to raise the aperture significantly to shoot at 1/180 which would not produce the blurred background effect (result of the shallow DOF), and I think this would prove detrimental to the image overall.
08-23-2014, 03:35 PM   #13
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You made a good exposure. I think the subject is the weather beaten guy in the harsh environment. Make it mostly about him, just need to hint at the environment. Given the luminance values, abstract with B&W to eliminate the distraction of color and emphasize the hard light, harsh contrasts and textures. We see him taking refuge in the shade of his hat brim, hard and worn.

Last edited by Brooke Meyer; 12-03-2014 at 09:08 PM.
08-23-2014, 08:56 PM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by nicofish Quote
I do not use flash ever as I do not want to blind my subjects.
LOL You won't blind them. That's a bit extreme. I never use flash either. I just recognize the limitations, work within them, and tailor my exposure towards what I wish to show. Then I do my best in post-processing to enhance that message.
08-23-2014, 10:03 PM   #15
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Since there isn't much going on in the background I would have exposed for the face and blown much of the background out. Being a little tighter on him would probably be better in this situation too.
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