Exposure Is a Creative Choice

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Just as we control focus, aperture, shutter speed, and other camera settings, sometimes we must creatively control exposure as well. In the finished image below, the starfish is brilliantly lit and stands out from the background. It’s the clear point of interest and leaves no doubt regarding what should draw the viewer’s eye.

Birubi Beach, Anna Bay, NSW, Australia

Straight from the camera and shot in the normal way, the photo doesn’t automatically appear like the finished image above. If you process the image to enhance the starfish (as in the photo below), both the starfish and the background would have the same tonality because both are brilliantly lit by the sun in equal measure. The coloration and textures of both would also be too similar.

Birubi Beach, Anna Bay, NSW, Australia

Processed for the starfish

On the other hand, underexposure for the right background look (as in the image below) would cause the image as a whole to be too dark.

Birubi Beach, Anna Bay, NSW, Australia

Processed for the background

So, how does creative exposure come into play in an image such as this? One method is to take a single shot of both the starfish and the background but then, using Adobe Camera  RAW, process the image using two different setting – one to enhance and brighten the starfish and the other to bring out the details and the colors in background. Once individually processed to achieve your desired results, the two images can then be combined to create the finished look.

Considering exposure as a creative photographic technique can properly enhance tricky images and help create the photo for which you were shooting.

Check out the following tutorials on Visual Wilderness:

  • Spot on Exposure Tutorial Cover

    Spot on Exposure Tutorial

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    Histogram Exposed Tutorial

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    Bracketing Exposed Tutorials

About Author Jay Patel

I could startoff like this – “Seeds of Jay Patel’s appreciation for beautiful places were planted early in his childhood….” but it would get boring really fast. I will just sum it up and say that I am a Landscape and Wilderness Photographer who loves to capture dramatic light. My photographs have been published in various magazines, calendars and advertising materials throughout the world.
Patience is a virtue...unless you are chasing your dreams