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Thread: Dealing with bright lights in dark areas/subjects

  1. #1
    Ausphotography Regular
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    Dealing with bright lights in dark areas/subjects

    Hey all!

    Posting on here to try and get some tips.

    Check out this composition, what I wanted was a photo of the curved LED strip that is in the headlights. However, because they're SO DAMN BRIGHT it's hard to get a shot of them =/

    Got to the point where I'd start the exposure, switch them on for not even one second, and it still came out this bright:



    I tried to in this composition as well, but gave up and switched them off haha.



    So can somebody please help me with the bright lights thing?

    There is bound to be some kind of technique that can be done! Can somebody shed some light? (oh that pun was SO intended)

    Decided to "shave" my signature ;]
    Now mostly shoots with: Canon 5D MK3 & Canon 24-70 f/2.8/50mm f/1.8 (also have a 550D with a variety of lenses/goodies and a Sony Nex-5N)
    PP with: Lightroom only, Photoshop is merely a 9-5 work tool for me.

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    Administrator ricktas's Avatar
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    What you are experiencing is the limitations of the dynamic range of your sensor. Most sensors can capture around 9-11 stops difference in light brightness before you reach absolute black or pure white. HDR (High Dynamic Range) became an idea because of this limitation. People wanted to capture the full visible range of light within a scene, but found the DR of their camera sensor would just not allow it.

    So, there you have the reason why..and one of the solutions. Use a Tripod and take 2-4 photos with different exposure settings, then either use HDR software, or exposure blending (using layers and masks), to combine the 2-4 photos to get the results you want. If you have not done HDR before, this could be a very good way to start learning. Remembering that what you seek is a natural result, with the lights exposed well, not some over-cooked, over-saturater, hyper reality. Exposure blending can also take your skills in post processing to the next step, where you layer the 2-4 photos on top of each other and start masking and blending particular elements from each layer to get the result you want.

    You will need a tripod, cause you need to take the photos from the exact same spot. Some cameras (check your manual) allow exposure bracketing, where you set it up, and the camera will then take a series of shots, one under-exposed, one correctly exposed, and one over-exposed, automatically, all ready for your HDR or exposure blending, when you get back home.

    Personally, I prefer to exposure blend myself, than rely on HDR software to achieve this. But experiment and see which way works for you.

    Like the angle on the first photo, great alley-way for this sort of photography too!
    "It is one thing to make a picture of what a person looks like, it is another thing to make a portrait of who they are" - Paul Caponigro

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    RICK
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  3. #3
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    Ricktas, that is awesome. Thank you!

    I haven't dabbled in HDR before (the hyper reality ones you mentioned put me off the entire thing). It isn't often I come across a HDR photo that looks all that good (or maybe they've been so good I haven't noticed they were HDR?).

    Thanks for the explanations and ideas, I'll give them a go when I get the opportunity

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