Meeting Photo Challenges
Creative Image Processing
Nature & Outdoor
Creating Better Photographics
Night & Low Light Photography
Light & Exposure
Close-Up & Macro
Digital Black & White
Color & Design
Choosing & Using Lenses
Digital Photography Equipment
Dynamic range defines just how bright that snowy field can be and how dark the shadows in the canyon can be and still get details in each area when you make a careful exposure reading. It is the limitation of the recording material, and is an important aspect of making good exposure decisions. As you gain experience one of the most important matters to concentrate on is developing a sense of this range and understanding what your camera can and cannot do. In short, learn how it handles different light values (contrast) within the same scene.
The ability of the sensor to capture a range of brightness values will determine when you will be able to capture all the values in the scene (or at least all the important values) and when you might have to give up shadow detail in order to control the highlight areas. This shot was made late in the day in New York City with a bright sky and the buildings in shadow. The high contrast is part of the character of the shot, and the limits of dynamic range are exploited for a graphic interpretation of the scene.
This bracketed shot shows both high- and low-key effects.
While excessive underexposure will render an image useless, due to the amount of noise generated during correction, slight underexposure is no problem. This photo is about 1.5 stops underexposed, but some easy software work brings back a nice range of values. While still dark overall it has enhanced color and contrast.
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