If I were You

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Yogesh S. Raut is an amateur photographer from Mumbai and has been reading about photography past one year. He wants to know how this picture can be improved.

The picture of the pitcher, surrounded by a very dark area, is what aroused my curiosity. The vertical highlight in the center and the abrasions (damage) on either sides of the pitcher reminded me of a face shield like the one worn by ancient Roman warriors.

The composition is good; the pitcher is placed as per the rule of the thirds. The slight lean towards the right adds to the ‘mystery’.

But why is the overall image so dark? Its dark because the camera meter, ‘seeing’ the very bright refl ection, assumed that there was enough light and ordered the camera to clamp down on the exposure. Using Shadow/Highlight Tool in Photoshop, I merely ‘opened up’ the shadows and slightly ‘toned down’ the highlight. Further toning down the highlight was not possible as there is no data available in that area. You can now clearly see the hard shadow behind the pitcher, which actually helps to make the vessel appear three dimensional. You can also now see more detail on the ground. But what about the person who does not use Photoshop? Could he not achieve similar result without Photoshop? Well, you never can tell till you try.

Remember, this is a tricky lighting situation. Hence the best bet would be to use the bracketing function in the camera. Bracketing means taking one (or more) shot on the plus side of the camera recommended exposure, and another shot (or more) on the minus side of the recommended exposure. But what about cameras that don’t have a bracketing function? In that case, you use the manual exposure mode (if it has that mode) and change the shutter speed. E.g. if the recommended exposure is 1/8sec at f/2.8, take the next shot at 1/4sec at f/2.8 and the last at 1/15sec at f/2.8. If you want to bracket only on the plus side, then after the recommended exposure (1/8sec at f/2.8 in our case), take the next shot at 1/4sec at f/2.8, another 1/2sec at f/2.8.

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