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So I found the shot here that I want to take. What caught my eye was just simple geometry. I like the black triangle created by the trees with this path coming out of it. So I have got a strong compositional idea there, but I have also got an interesting dynamic range situation here. The shadow is very black. The path can be very light. I need to decide how I want to handle that. Do I want the shadows to go into complete blackness? Do I want some detail back there? What's the relationship I want between those two different tonal areas? That might lead me to think, do I want to do this in black and white or color? To be honest, I am not being struck by any particular idea right now.
So since I don't have a really clear idea what my final goal is, I want to be sure that I have captured enough exposure latitude, enough image data, that I can really work with this in post and play around with it. I am in program mode right now. I am going to just knock off a shot here, just to get an idea of what I think my composition looks like. That's pretty good. But again, I don't know how much I can move all this around, tonally. So I think I want to go in and get a little more detailed about my approach here.
The first thing I want to think about is depth of field. I want to be sure everything in this image is in focus. So I am going to switch over to Aperture priority mode, because that's going to give me depth of field control. And I am going to just go ahead and dial in an aperture of F11. I am not metering or anything. I know I want an aperture of F11, because F11 is going to give me very deep depth of field. Now I could go to a smaller aperture. I could go to F22 if I wanted. But as I do that, I'm going to--as I go past 11, I am going to start risking a softening in my image that's caused by an optical effect called diffraction.
You can learn all about this in my Foundations of Photography: Lenses course. So I am going to stay on F11 and I am going to take another shot. I am focusing in a very particular place to maximize my depth of field. So, I'm using center-point focusing here to be sure that I have that kind of control. Now, I'm feeling more confident about my focus now that I did over Program mode because I'm not really sure what Aperture Program mode was using, and I have about the same exposure, but I still don't really know what I want to do with those shadows. I would like some more opportunity when I get home. When I look at the histogram, I see that I have got pretty good data, but I am going to go ahead and overexpose by one stop.
So I'm dialing in one stop of overexposure with my Exposure Compensation control. Because I'm in Aperture Priority mode, it's making that Exposure Compensation adjustment by changing shutter speed. So I am coming in at a shutter speed of an 80th of a second. That's still fine for handheld shooting. So I don't need to worry about increasing my ISO. So I am going to take that shot. As I do that, this stuff is going to overexpose out here. So I might want to even back off on that Exposure Compensation adjustment.
Maybe I will go down to just a third of a stop of overexposure, take another shot. So I am really trying to protect myself in terms of the highlights here, while still having some brightening of the shadows. On the other hand, there are some bright lights back there in those shadows. What if I decide I really want the shadows to be dark. Those bright highlights could be a problem. I am going to try and actually just go ahead and fully underexpose those shadows also. I am going to drop down to one stop of underexposure just by making an exposure compensation change. In other words, I am bracketing.
I've now taken a shot one stop under, one stop over. I even did one just a third of a stop over. I am really playing it safe here. I also took a shot as metered. I am really playing it safe here in terms of capturing a really wide tonal range in my images. But now I'm noticing this tree over here, this discolored tree that might be an interesting compositional element. And so I would like to include that in the shot, but I've still got my shadow question. I am going to need to continue bracketing. So enough of this manual bracketing. I'm going to turn on Auto bracketing because that's going to allow me to immediately easily try a lot of different compositions and still keep my bracketing going.
So I am going to frame with the tree on one side and knock off a few shots, and maybe some of this stuff over here might be interesting. Oh, well! I can go full wide here. I haven't scene that before and get a shot there, maybe zoom in a little bit. Each time I am knocking off a full bracket, so I have got lots of exposure options when I get back home. Now you might think oh gosh! In that case I am just going to turn on Auto bracketing and leave it on all the time so that I always have lots of exposure options when I get home. You can do that, but you are really going to complicate your postproduction because now you are shooting three times as much stuff as you normally do and if the wind were blowing now, you know things would be different from one shot to another. So I'm bracketing now because it's a good choice for addressing an issue that I'm having, which is I'm not sure what I want to do with those shadows.
There are going to be other times where I might approach a scene like this and go absolutely, I want those shadows dark. I know exactly what to do. I am going to underexpose by a third of a stop and I would just take that shot. Bracketing would simply complicate my postproduction at that point. I've another option here though. My camera has an HDR feature built into it, which we've explored already. That's going to automatically take two shots, each exposed a little bit differently and it's going to merge them. So I am going to just turn that feature on right now and go ahead and take that HDR shot.
Now, what's nice about this is it gives me a way to previsualize the HDR process on the back of the camera and actually, I like this HDR. This might be an image that I want to use. Or I might decide, HDR is the answer. I will use the HDR software that I have at home. Well, I have already shot bracketed sets of everything that I wanted, so I always have the option of merging those into HDR later if I want. If you are totally mystified by this whole HDR thing, I've got an HDR course you can watch that will explain it up. What I'm doing here is strategizing my exposure, and what's great about doing that on the D800 is I have got all this control that I need on the outside of the camera.
So you have seen me changing modes to get depth-of-field control. You have seen me very easily bracketing my shots manually by simply changing exposure compensation. Then you have seen me zero in on that bracketing process and turn on Auto bracketing in a drive mode, or a continuous mode, so that I can blow through a lot of different compositions all with my same bracketing. I didn't have to dip into the menus till I went to the HDR thing. So, having a handle on these controls, knowing how to very quickly and easily change exposure compensation to get different exposures, how to turn on bracketing, how to turn on your continuous mode, these are going to allow you to approach a difficult exposure situation, or one that may not be that difficult, but you are just not sure what you want.
You are going to be able to approach those situations very quickly and easily. The idea is you don't want to have to be thinking about these controls or thinking about this process; you want to be thinking about tonality and composition. And if you get these controls really under your fingertips so that you can use them without thinking, you are going to have an easier time when you face a situation like this.
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