Join Ben Long for an in-depth discussion in this video Understanding what clipping is in an image, part of Introduction to Photography.
- In the last movie, I said that your light meter is always going to pick exposures that will make sure that you have detail in the highlights, and it will do that at the cost of the shadows. The reason for that, is an overexposed highlight, a blown-out highlight, an area that's gone to complete white it's really distracting in an image, it's an eye-magnet, you can't help but look at it. A shadow that has underexposed to complete blackness just looks like a really dark shadow. So, the camera has intelligently made the decision, actually the engineers who built the camera have intelligently made the decision, to make sure that the camera always protects those highlights, always ensures that there's detail in there.
Still, sometimes meters make wrong assumptions, or you're in a particularly difficult lighting situation, sometimes you will end up with overexposure in the highlights on your images. I said, even earlier than last movie, that you can't judge anything on the back of your screen but composition. You can actually get your camera, when you're reviewing an image, to tell you if something in the image has been overexposed. Playback mode on your camera probably includes a feature called Highlight Clipping, that will flash any pixels that have been overexposed. You'll see them alternate between white and black.
Here's a typical highlight clipping display. It's flashing areas that are bright. If I had dialed in some negative exposure compensation, those areas would not be flashing, and detail would be back in those areas. I can't tell you how to turn that on on your particular camera, it varies from camera to camera. But if you look in your manual under highlight clipping, highlight warning, or, and this may sound odd, histogram display, those will show you, those instructions will tell you how to turn that feature on on your camera, and it can be very, very valuable. I don't use it all the time, like I said, I don't review every image after I've shot it, but if I go into a tricky situation, and I know that the lighting is potentially going to mess up my meter and that I'm going to run the risk of overexposure, then I will review the image, and turn on some of these other tools for evaluating exposure, so I can figure out if I've got it right.
If I don't, then I will alter my exposure, possibly through exposure compensation, and go and re-shoot. So, there's a lot of stuff going on in this course, I know, and a lot of stuff over these last three chapters, but I'm giving you these three different things to exercise. I want you to practice balance, portraiture, and then finally, just working with geometry. Balance and geometry are two compositional tools that you can use in all of your images, and you can practice those with portraiture. Try combining portraiture with some geometry, make sure your frame is balanced through it all.
You need to really be working that habit of half-pressing the shutter button, making sure that the camera has focus where you want it to, checking to be sure that your shutter speed is fast enough to freeze the motion that you're capturing, if there is any motion, and then remembering that you can use your exposure compensation dial, to dial brightness up and down in the frame, to either bring more detail to a shadow area, or calm down areas that are overexposed and too bright. And through it all, while you're shooting any of the stuff that you're shooting, you need to be working your shot, you need to be shooting lots of coverage.
You need a really high shooting ratio, you need to be experimenting, you need to be moving. If your feet aren't worn out by the end of the day, if your knees aren't hurting, and if your hips aren't sore from bending down and standing up, you haven't been doing it right. Photography should be painful! That's not what I'm trying to say. You should be moving around a lot though. Keep your feet moving, understand that that's how you're going to find the good shot, and from there it's just practice, and increasing your technical knowledge.
Then it's time to take to the field and examine the rest of the factors that influence the quality of your photographs, including light metering, focus, composition, and flash. Ben also introduces techniques for shooting portraits and shows what you can do with an image editor in post. Last but not least, he'll provide a roadmap for learning more with the lynda.com extensive library of photography training. The path to becoming a better photographer begins with the first step. Start here!
- Exploring cameras and lenses
- Understanding media
- Controlling exposure
- Composing with autofocus
- Shooting portraits
- Understanding form and geometry
- Exporting and editing digital images