Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Flower and high-contrast photography

This is another photo of one of the flowers around our Langosta condo.  It appears to be a variety of heliconia, although I will confess that my knowledge of different types of tropical flowers is rather limited.

The contrast between the bright flower and the dark background illustrates something that I recently read about photography while trying to get a better understanding of histograms.  Each f-stop on the camera allows twice as much light as the next higher f-stop number.  The human eye can handle the contrast of light that is equivalent to a range of about 8 f-stops, but a camera image can capture a range of only about 5 f-stops.

Consequently, in many scenes there is a range of brightness or darker areas that the eye sees, but which the camera will record as blackness or white-out.  In today's photo, the background was not as dark as it appears in this photo, but I obviously set the exposure to capture the light on the flower and allow the background to be darker in the image than it was in reality.  I like the effect of highlighting the subject of the photo.

It is essential to set the exposure manually or to use a "spot meter" for a photo such as this, rather than relying on the camera's automatic exposure.  The automatic exposure will often result in a setting that averages the light for the dark and light areas of a high contrast photo, which will cause the brighter subject to be washed out.

This week we are showing photos of Chicago on our on our Viva la Voyage travel photo site.


Kate said...

Thanks for the photo lesson, Dave. The photo is lovely and achieved what you wanted! I'd like to have a whole bouquet of these flowers.

Sharon said...

Nicely done, Dave!

Rob Siemann said...

Another way of doing it is to take ARW photos, if your camera allows it. Instead of allowing 256 colors, it gives you access to over 65000 colors, and you can tweak this further with one or more of the perfectly good programs available.
Or again, there is HDR, which if difficult with moving things (wind...).
Many possibilities out there. But in many ways, a camera on manual, this is art.

Scott F said...

very well done, you highlighted that flower beautifully.

Jack said...

If you say so, Dave.

Point. Shoot.

Virginia said...

I still struggle with exposure. You flower today is excellent!

Bob Crowe said...

I'd take a different approach to this image. I like the balance of green against the yellow-orange flower and I'd like more of it. I would probably put a mask on the flower, invert it and than lighten the background (if there's any information to work with). But that's just me. This is your picture.

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