Maxby’s Photo tips – Avoid High Contrast Situations

Daily rantings – Avoid high contrast situations

One of the most common mistake made by newcomers to digital photography is taking photos in very high contrast situations. Most DSLR’s sensors can record images with about 5 to 6 stops of dynamic range. Trying to take a photo of a scene that is higher than what the digital sensor is capable of capturing will result in blown highlights and blocked shadows. Negative films have a slight advantage over digital sensors in this dynamic range comparison.

1. Choose a different angle

Most experience photographers will avoid high contrast situations whenever possible. When faced with a high contrast situation, one would use leg zoom and choose a slightly different angle to avoid the bright sky for instance. Sometimes just by moving slightly and picking a different angle would make a good image look great.

2. Choose the best time when the lighting of scene balances

Experienced landscape photographers often survey and come back to the chosen scene when the lighting of the sky balances with the environment.

3. How do I know when the situation is of higher contrast than my digital sensor?

This is a good question. Turn on the setting that shows clipped highlights and shadows in the playback menu. If there is a blinking highlight, try shifting to a slightly different angle. Over time one would be experienced enough to avoid such high contrast situations.

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