Camera Tips: ways to brighten shadow areas without overexposing others

Camera Tips: ways to brighten shadow areas without overexposing others

Camera Tips: ways to brighten shadow areas without overexposing others

Camera Tips: ways to brighten shadow areas without overexposing others

On sunny days, the shadow areas of your photos can often look nearly black. This is a common problem for photographers, and the trick lies in how to brighten these shadow areas while shooting without overexposing other areas.

The answer is it’s all about dynamic range, which is limited in any digital camera. When you’re composing a shot, a handy little trick is to view the scene through half-closed eyes.

This has the effect of reducing the tonal range that you can actually see, so you can judge which areas are likely to be a problem in your final image.

For small, foreground areas that are shadowy or, for example, a portrait sitter’s face in side- or backlit portraits, a reflector is useful.

These come in white, silver or gold, the first two of which give progressively more reflection. Gold adds warmth to skin tones.

The Lastolite Tri-Grip range has a built-in handle, so you can hold the camera in one hand and position the reflector with the other.

To brighten shadows in more expansive scenes, many cameras have functions to boost dynamic range, reining in highlights while boosting shadows.

It’s a bit like having variable ISO, where higher sensitivity is used in shadowy areas. Examples include Canon ALO (Auto Lighting Optimizer), Nikon Active D-Lighting and Sony D-Range Optimizer.

Most Pentax cameras have dynamic range controls for correcting high- and lowlights. These all work well for boosting shadows, but be prepared for some loss in overall contrast.

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