Extreme contrast during the summertime can prove a challenge for many photographers. In this tutorial we explain how to keep it under control to avoid exposure problems and retain all-important detail.
Unlike the human eye, your camera’s sensor is unable to deal with extreme contrast. The result of this is that images taken in high contrast light either have no detail in the shadow areas or in the highlights or both.
In some circumstances you might be prepared to compromise and forego detail in some areas but it’s never an ideal solution and your images will usually suffer as a result.
As cameras improve, so does the range of tones that they are able to render – but even the most sophisticated models haven’t resolved this issue altogether. So, here are our suggestions to help you control high contrast situations.
Three easy ways to deal with extreme contrast light in your images
Shoot in raw
While not solving the problem completely, shooting in raw means that you can recover detail in both highlights and shadows to some extent during processing. However, don’t rely on this and be especially careful about blown highlights, which are more difficult – or impossible – to recover.
Although backlighting can increase the level of contrast, if you expose for the shadow areas you will capture a more evenly lit picture of the main subject. There may be some over-exposed highlights around the edges of the subject but the overall effect can be very striking.
Take an HDR approach
To increase dynamic range and capture detail in deep shadows and bright highlights, take several images at different exposure settings. Use your camera’s auto exposure bracketing function (AEB) plus a tripod and cable release . Combine the images using HDR software.
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