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Posts Tagged ‘exposure compensation’

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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Merry Christmas!

This past week I watched a photography webinar offered by National Geographic in preparation for our grand adventure to Antarctica. The information offered was very helpful, but pretty basic, which is fine as the target audience is tourists, not serious amateur or professional photographers. A couple of tips, though, really will be helpful not only in Antarctica but also on the Schutzhund field.

Tip 1: When faced with a bright scene, such as a glistening Schutzhund field, adjust the exposure compensation dial to over expose the scene just a bit. This will fool your camera into darkening the scene, which will greatly help get the exposure just right. Same holds true for darker scenes, such as shadows. The rule is add light to light and dark to dark. It’s a bit counter-intuitive. Give it a try and see what happens.

Tip 2: On very cold and very hot / humid days, condensation within the camera body and lens can be a problem. On cold days, condensation can occur when you bring the camera inside from the cold. Conversely, on hot / humid days, condensation can occur when you take the camera outside from the cooler air-conditioned house or car. To keep condensation from forming, store your equipment in plastic bags and let it come to the ambient temperature before you fire it up. In other words, on a cold day, let the camera sit indoors in the camera bag for 30 minutes or so before you turn it on to check images or take photos indoors. On hot / humid days, let the camera sit for a bit to warm up before using. I use plastic bags, which really helps avoid this problem.

The webinar instructor Ralph Lee Hopkins has published a book on outdoor photography, called Digital Masters: Nature Photography: Documenting the Wild World (A Lark Photography Book). It’s available on Amazon.com and looks to be an excellent resource.

Look for new posts just after the new year, including photos from our grand adventure. Until then happy shooting and best wishes for a joyous holiday season and a happy healthy new year!  Thank you for visiting!

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