Dynamic range is at the heart of exposure theory, and nowadays it’s much easier to measure. However, there are four situations where dynamic range can be an issue for photographers.
Our photography cheat sheet below spells out these four common problems with dynamic range and explains what you can do to make sure you get it right.
Common Problems with Dynamic Range: 01 Lanscapes – double peaks
In landscapes, the sky is often much brighter than the landscape itself, and no single exposure can capture both.
The solution: Landscape photographers use graduated filters to block some light and bring the bright sky back into the camera’s dynamic range.
Common Problems with Dynamic Range: 02 Portraits – faces in shadow
Backlighting will either leave your subject’s face in shadow or, if you increase the exposure, leave the background blown out.
The solution: Use fill-flash to lighten your subject’s face and bring the scene back into the camera’s dynamic range.
Common Problems with Dynamic Range: 03 Sun and shade – high contrast
Bright sun under a clear sky can produce a difference between light and shade that’s just too large for the camera to cope with.
The solution: Shoot RAW. RAW files contain extra highlight and shadow detail that you can recover later on your computer.
Common Problems with Dynamic Range: 04 Dawn and dusk – extreme contrast
At sunset and twilight the sky is often so much brighter than the rest of the scene that you can’t capture the full brightness range even with RAW.
The solution: Use HDR photography techniques. Shoot the scene at different exposures and then use HDR software to merge them into one image.
10 common landscape photography mistakes every photographer makes
10 common portrait photography mistakes every photographer makes (and how to fix them)
Studio lighting: 4 seriously simple lighting techniques to try at home
Photography lighting: how to take control of everything from natural light to flashguns