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Adjusting exposure to preserve the mood

From: Foundations of Photography: Night and Low Light

Video: Adjusting exposure to preserve the mood

One of the reasons you might choose to shoot in low light is that low light creates a very particular mood. Dusk has a very particular feeling to it. At dusk though, you got to be careful, because the light changes very quickly and because your camera might work against you. For example, right now I'm liking this lower light. I am liking the dusky feel that it's giving me. I am getting this great bit where I have got the sun setting over there, and it's darker over here, and I want to take a shot of that. This is a pretty straightforward, easy picture to get. I put a wide-angle lens on. I am getting some nice drama both from these rocks and from the clouds. But when I look at the picture, I get this.

Adjusting exposure to preserve the mood

One of the reasons you might choose to shoot in low light is that low light creates a very particular mood. Dusk has a very particular feeling to it. At dusk though, you got to be careful, because the light changes very quickly and because your camera might work against you. For example, right now I'm liking this lower light. I am liking the dusky feel that it's giving me. I am getting this great bit where I have got the sun setting over there, and it's darker over here, and I want to take a shot of that. This is a pretty straightforward, easy picture to get. I put a wide-angle lens on. I am getting some nice drama both from these rocks and from the clouds. But when I look at the picture, I get this.

It doesn't have the ambience that I am sitting here. It doesn't have that dusk vibe, because my camera has compensated for the low light. It's brightened everything up and made it look almost just like a normal full daytime picture. That's not what I was going for. So what I need to do here is override my camera and dial in some intentional underexposure to bring the levels in the image back down to how they look to my eye while I am standing here. I am shooting in aperture priority mode, because this is a landscape shots. I want deep depth of field, so I have dialed in an aperture of f/8.

To get a shutter speed up where I need it, I've had to bring my ISO up to 800. So now what I am going to do is take my exposure compensation control and dial it down one stop. That's going to change my shutter speed. Because I'm in aperture priority, exposure compensation will not touch aperture; it's just going to modify my shutter speed. Now I am going to take another shot, and when I look at this one, aha! Now we are getting somewhere. That's looking like a dusk shot. I think I went a little too far though, so I am going to back off and maybe go to 2/3rds of a stop under.

Your camera, the exposure compensation, can probably be set so that it moves in either half-stop or third-stop increments. This is a reason to have the finer grain third-stop increment, as I need just a little bit of brightening over what I got before, and I think that's it. I think that's looking a lot more like I have it here. You'll find the same problem if you are shooting in the city at dusk, maybe when the lights have just come on and you're getting that nice mix of a little bit of lingering daylight and mixed with the streetlights and things like that. Your camera might just brighten that right up.

A little bit of under exposure will take care of that. Landscape shooting at dusk is the same problem. Don't just blindly follow your camera during these twilight hours. You need to take a look at the histogram. You need to take a look at the image and consider some intentional under exposure if you find the camera is brightening the image up so that it doesn't really look like what it felt like.

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This video is part of

Image for Foundations of Photography: Night and Low Light
Foundations of Photography: Night and Low Light

55 video lessons · 40240 viewers

Ben Long
Author

 
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  1. 2m 27s
    1. Welcome
      2m 27s
  2. 6m 20s
    1. What can you shoot in low light?
      2m 17s
    2. What you need for this course
      4m 3s
  3. 28m 54s
    1. Working with exposure parameters in low light
      1m 13s
    2. Working with image sensors in low light
      4m 35s
    3. Working with shutter speed in low light
      3m 3s
    4. Considering motion blur
      1m 14s
    5. Working with ISO in low light
      2m 29s
    6. Assessing your camera's high ISO capability
      4m 52s
    7. Working with in-camera noise reduction
      2m 4s
    8. Working with aperture in low light
      2m 10s
    9. Understanding dynamic range
      2m 2s
    10. Working with color temperature and white balance
      1m 11s
    11. Exposing to the right
      4m 1s
  4. 34m 39s
    1. Introduction
      1m 36s
    2. Talking with Steve Simon about low-light photography
      13m 46s
    3. Shooting by candlelight
      1m 55s
    4. Choosing a mode
      4m 34s
    5. Exploring the role of lens stabilization
      3m 1s
    6. White balance considerations
      3m 27s
    7. Flash considerations
      1m 18s
    8. Problem solving
      1m 35s
    9. Understanding aesthetics and composition
      3m 27s
  5. 30m 4s
    1. Introduction
      2m 20s
    2. Preparing for the shoot
      5m 25s
    3. Act I: adjusting to the light
      3m 48s
    4. Intermission: reviewing the strategy
      1m 53s
    5. Act II: moving to the back of the house
      2m 35s
    6. After the show: lessons learned
      1m 18s
    7. Reviewing the performance images
      12m 45s
  6. 19m 18s
    1. Shooting in the shade
      2m 55s
    2. Street shooting
      2m 52s
    3. Shooting flash portraits at night
      4m 5s
    4. Controlling flash color temperature
      2m 50s
    5. Adjusting exposure to preserve the mood
      2m 34s
    6. Dynamic range considerations
      4m 2s
  7. 41m 0s
    1. Shooting lingering sunsets
      1m 42s
    2. Exploring focusing strategies
      5m 17s
    3. Composing and focusing at night
      10m 42s
    4. Shooting the stars
      9m 27s
    5. Practicing low-light landscape shooting
      9m 55s
    6. Focusing on the horizon in low light
      3m 57s
  8. 13m 4s
    1. Light painting: behind the camera
      7m 34s
    2. Light painting: in front of the camera
      2m 13s
    3. Manipulating long shutter speeds
      3m 17s
  9. 1h 4m
    1. Correcting white balance
      8m 49s
    2. Correcting white balance with a gray card
      3m 50s
    3. Correcting white balance of JPEG images
      2m 0s
    4. Blending exposures with different white balances
      7m 13s
    5. Brightening shadows
      9m 8s
    6. Reducing noise
      7m 44s
    7. Sharpening
      9m 14s
    8. Correcting depth-of-field issues
      9m 32s
    9. Correcting night skies
      6m 39s
  10. 53s
    1. Goodbye
      53s

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