Technique PHOTO SCHOOL
Everyone has to start somewhere, even top pros, and in our regular Photo School feature we look at the core skills that every beginner needs. This month, it’s how to deal with tricky exposure situations when shooting landscapes, and how to make the best of bad exposures in Lightroom...
Words & pictures by Kingsley Singleton
for example, in multi-zone mode you’ll often lose a lot of the richness in the colours as the camera is liable to overexpose in the dim conditions. In manual mode, where you’re wholly responsible for setting the aperture and shutter speed values, you can shoot and assess the results either on the screen or via the histogram, tailoring the exposure to exactly what’s required. n Use neutral density graduated filters No amount of tweaking aperture and shutter speed will let you balance a scene that has both very bright and very dark areas in it: one of them will always be at risk of getting lost, either the highlights or the shadows. For scenes of this kind, such as when shooting a landscape with a bright sky (right), you need to physically block some of the light using a neutral density graduated (usually shortened to ND grad) filter. This cuts down the amount of light entering the camera, but only in the parts of the scene it covers, so it won’t affect other areas, leading to a better balance in the scene.
Software skills Part 15: Controlling exposure in Lightroom ADOBE LIGHTROOM With its exposure mode set to aperture-priority (A or Av), shutter-priority (S or Tv), program (P) or auto, your DSLR will help you to get a balanced exposure by picking suitable settings for the scene. These settings are based on your chosen metering mode, of which, broadly, there are three: multi-zone (sometimes called matrix or evaluative), centre- weighted and spot. Modern multi-zone systems are smart enough to read most scenes, but if you’re still not getting the results you want, what then? Here are some solutions… n Use exposure compensation Multi-zone metering reads the whole scene and, based on what it finds, decides which exposure settings to use in creating a balanced exposure. The trouble is, if most of the scene is dark, say when shooting silhouetted trees against a darkening sky, the camera will act accordingly and set an exposure that’s too light. To rectify this, use the exposure compensation feature, usually found via the +/- button on the body, and dial in a negative value. This will darken the exposure giving results that are truer to what you see. Conversely, if the scene is very light, as with snow, the camera may underexpose, in which case you’d do the opposite. n Shoot in manual exposure mode Another way to deal with unsatisfactory metering is to switch to manual exposure mode (M). When shooting a sunset,
NEXTMONTH: More ways to sort common exposure problems when shooting and using Lightroom tools.
1: IMPROVE THE OVERALL EXPOSURE In the Develop module, the Exposure slider controls brightness across the whole tonal range, making the picture lighter or darker. For precise control, use the Highlights, Shadows, Blacks and Whites sliders which affect only those specific areas of the image. Here, -0.45 Exposure darkens the pic, and -53 Blacks thickens the shadows. Global adjustments can only take you so far though: as you lighten or darken one part, corresponding bits are affected. 2: ADD GRADUATED FILTERS TO THE SKY To darken the sky, click on the Graduated Filter tool under the Histogram (or press M). Drag it over the sky and set Exposure to a negative value (use the Whites and Highlights sliders, too, if required). If you need to darken further, click New and add another Grad Filter to build the effect slowly rather than using a very low Exposure (which looks harsh). Set the Shadows slider to a positive value, so you don’t dull areas already dark, like hillsides or trees projecting into the sky.
Most of us would love to get a perfect exposure straight out of the camera, but there are plenty of times when it’s impossible to do so, or simply preferable to shoot fast and tweak the results later. That’s where programs like Lightroom come in, giving you the ability to make both global exposure changes across the whole picture, as well as tailored adjustments right where they’re needed. Here we’ll look at how to tackle a typical exposure problem, landscapes where the sky is much brighter than the foreground. Tomake the most of Lightroom, shoot in Raw rather than JPEG, as it offers more exposure control.
Photography News | Issue 15
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