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Thread started 14 Feb 2015 (Saturday) 11:56
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Determining exposure/brightness in PP

 
TFred
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Post edited over 4 years ago by TFred.
     
Feb 14, 2015 11:56 |  #1

I have been learning lightroom 5. In viewing other's photos, I have come across landscape work that is quite dark and moody... I think of it as adding drama. I love this stuff. And have been messing around with the idea. In the camera club I belong to, in monthly competition, what to me is artistic license is being criticized by judges (non club members) as underexposure ("nice photo, could be bit brighter"). In the end it is no big deal, I do it for fun and judges have been hard to find so I haven't been explaining my ideas. But I am wondering if I am off base, I do want to be sure the result is something people want to see. Of course I have this dark theme on the brain now, and my regular everyday "post card" photos, which looked fine before, are looking really bright (they are not).

I am interested in your views on the dark/moody/drama thing. Is it legit? Overdone?
For nature/landscape photos that are to be represented as natural as possible (exposure as you saw it), what criteria do you use to determine the final PP brightness?

Thanks !!


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sandpiper
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Feb 14, 2015 13:14 |  #2

The first thing to keep in mind is that judges don't all see things the same way. An image that is picked apart by one judge can be highly praised by another. Heck, I have even had one image be praised and do really well in a competition, only to be marked down and criticised in another competition by the same judge. Never take what they say to heart, it is all just one persons opinion.

However, if you are getting the same "underexposed" comment regularly, with different judges, then that is how the image is coming across. You may be aiming for dark and moody, but just looking dark and underexposed. I find that where the darkness suits an image and does enhance the mood, it will get positive comments. However, neither of the images above look, to my eye (remember, just one persons opinion) as if making them dark will make them moody as well, just dark and looking underexposed. Unfortunately, in comps, you don't get to explain what you are trying to convey, the image has to stand on it's own. Your car shot just looks underexposed to me, it would look better with a little lightening up on the bodywork, and if it was my shot I would be looking at the colour and the contrast between the rust and the faded paint, trying to emphasise each with the PP.

You can't take just any image and make it moody by going darker, there are a lot of elements to "moody" and the original lighting and composition play a big part. You need to know the end result you want and shoot accordingly, not just make it darker in PP. Also, even dark and moody images often have something a bit brighter that stands out and make it look correctly exposed (even if most of the image has been darkened down). A dark and moody forest scene can have a small area lit by shafts of sunlight breaking through the canopy for example (you can add them in PP if you are good with it). Try looking at the dark and moody images you admire, and ask yourself what makes them so moody apart from being dark, I suspect that is the area you need to work on.

The river shot looks like you have tried to bring out the white branch, but that just looks too bright (again, just my opinion) compared to the rest of the scene and that makes it the main subject as it grabs all the attention. To me, the river should be the subject, not the branch, the branch gets the attention and then, following the leading line that gives you, takes you to a blown out patch of water.

If you are shooting for yourself, the opinion of others means nothing, PP it the way you like it. If shooting for club competitions then you need to consider how judges think, and often how a particular judge thinks (it doesn't hurt to see who is coming in to judge a comp, and google them to see what, and how, they shoot and PP)




  
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TFred
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Feb 15, 2015 14:49 as a reply to  @ sandpiper's post |  #3

Thanks Sandpiper. Great explanation and exactly what I was looking for.


My rational for these photos: I darkened (and cropped) the old truck because I noticed the 'as shot' exposure had equal balance between the paint colors and the chrome, but when I reduced brightness the chrome stayed as is and suddenly punched through as the rest faded away (I even have a darker version yet, the chrome really pops). I was thinking on making the scene an abstract where the chrome was the feature of the photo. For the river photo, which was taken at dusk resulted in a drab original, I tried to lighten/separate the birch tree, the S of the river, and distant trees in the river channel from the darker surroundings. This came from a few waterfall photos where the water has this amazing glow and luminance, the rest is barely discernible.

I originally became interested in the moody/dark idea by viewing a website called Earthshots. Many of the images seem darker than you would experience if you were there yourself; and others you can tell had lighting or weather events that made the photo naturally surreal and moody (to your point). Your comment... "there are a lot of elements to "moody" and the original lighting and composition play a big part"... is sort of a reality check. Some scenes have that one element (a shaft of light etc) as a starting point.

Any one have advice on how to work with rapids and waterfalls in PP, to optimize the whites?
I have a similar problem with white flowers, the histogram can be ok with no hot spots, but I cannot bring out the detail in the whites that I see in some images.

Any other cc or recommendations are welcome.




  
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Determining exposure/brightness in PP
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