View Full Version : When to clip highlights/shadows, When not to?

26th of March 2011 (Sat), 12:08
I see that some photographers, most of the time Street-photographers, intentionally pump of contrast so much that highlights n shadows are clipped. I understand that they want the audience to pay attention to the shapes, lines, composition and story but not small details like texture of e wall, background and etc. IMHO, it works very well and I like it.

There are times when i increase contrast so much for e same purpose I mentioned above but they don't appeal to many viewers.

I'm confused.

15th of April 2011 (Fri), 21:53
It is natural for average photographers to favor higher contrast images because the contrast boost always attracts the eye first-mostly because the shot appears crisper to the eye, even if fine details are lost.

I was a custom black and white printer for may years (silver based), and I learned from experience how to adjust contrast in the darkest shadows that I wanted to retain full detail. I always started too flat, and bumped it up to the point where the detail in the shadows were just beginning to lose it a bit, then back it off a bit so it appeared a bit too flat in the initial print run. I knew the toning I would do to the print would bring the contrast back up (whether selenium or gold toning).

Now, when I PP digital files, I look at the darkest shadows where I want to retain detail, and boost the contrast just to the point where the "smokiness" would begin to go away. In essence, I still handle the file in an editor as if I am "printing" it.

The method has worked well for me, but I have the advantage of applying what I learned as a silver printer to processing my files. It was something that experience taught me. Without this training and experience, most will go for excessive contrast right away and not try to nuance their way there. Just one man's opinion of course.