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Archive for February, 2013

Striking a balance so both the dog and the field are properly exposed is a continuing challenge for Schutzhund photographers. While this topic has been explored in earlier posts, one aspect that has yet to be discussed in any great degree is contrast. What is contrast and is it friend or foe to Schutzhund photography? The Digital Photography School blog has a very good post about contrast and explains the concept very simply:

  • Contrast: The difference between dark and light
  • High Contrast: An extreme difference between dark and light
  • Low Contrast: A gradual or lesser difference between dark and light
  • Colour Contrast: Tonal differences, as well as Saturation levels, of colours
  • High Key: Mostly light including whites
  • Low Key: Mostly darks including blacks
  • No Contrast: Is a Whiteout in the Antarctic and very dangerous. Best advice is return to Base Station.

I really like that definition for “No Contrast”, having just been to Antarctica and photographed floating ice (see images below). These images show how different floating ice can look in different lighting conditions and contexts.

In Antarctica as on the Schutzhund field, it is important to remember that white reflects while black absorbs light. Schutzhund fields often are very bright and reflect light, while dark sable and black dogs absorb light. On cloudy days, when everything seems murky, dark sable and black dogs can turn out very muddy and blobs – again they are absorbing available light, which on these days isn’t very much. There is not enough light to provide contrast.¬†Photographers love light overcast, which tends to neutralize the very bright sunlight and provide more even lighting.

Reflective light may play games with color balance, such as a bright blue sky may add more blue to the picture. This was certainly true in Antarctica, where some photos seemed too cool and needed to be warmed up with respect to white balance, in other words remove some of the blue (see Images 5, 6, 8 and 9, which show before and after adjustments). In other photos, in order to get the rest of the photo properly exposed, I elected to let part of the floating ice be very white and reflective (see Images 1, 2, 4 and 10). While it would be nice to have toned some of this down, it is – in fact – pretty close to what we saw.

It is easy to assume that ice and snow are all white, but in actuality ice has a myriad of colors, especially glacial ice, which has many shades of blue, some of which seem to glow!  Also, ice and snow pick up debris and sometimes have penguins and seals handing out. Images 7, 11, 12 and 13 are good examples.

I really like Image 3 as it offers an excellent balance and a lot of detail. It was taken later when the sun was low, providing a very colorful sky and soft light on the ice berg. The sea was dark, which offered a nice contrast.

Going back to the Digital Photography School blog post, here are a few practical tips for “getting the most contrast in a scene”:

  • Shoot with the narrowest aperture possible for light conditions
  • Shoot with the fastest shutter speed possible for light conditions

Also, use your camera’s exposure compensation, adding dark to dark and light to light to help with getting proper exposure. Some photographers also rely heavily on histograms. The next post will take a more in-depth look at histograms and will be up in early March, following the Greater Atlanta Schutzhund Association annual trial on February 23 and 24.

Until then – Happy Shooting!

Floating Ice 1

Floating Ice 1

Floating Ice 2

Floating Ice 2

Floating Ice 3

Floating Ice 3

Floating Ice 4

Floating Ice 4

Floating Ice 5

Floating Ice 5

Floating ice 6

Floating ice 6

Floating Ice 7

Floating Ice 7

Floating Ice 8

Floating Ice 8

Floating Ice 9

Floating Ice 9

Floating Ice 10

Floating Ice 10

Floating Ice 11

Floating Ice 11

Floating Ice 12

Floating Ice 12

Floating Ice-13

Floating Ice 13

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