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Too dark?

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  • Too dark?

    Hello all,

    can anyone explain why this is 'too dark'?

    Photo was taken with last rays of sunlight but i truly believe it's very acceptable.

    If you can convince me that it's really too dark can you please advise howto solve it.
    Do something about brightness/contrast? Or add more level?

    Thanks in advance for your constructive feedback,

  • #2
    Morning Joop,

    The thing with shooting in low light is it doesnít actually change the dynamic range your camera can capture. In other words, it can still show the range of tones between black and white whether youíre shooting in bright sunlight, dull, overcast conditions or indeed, fading light as in this case, and you need to set your camera to expose for the conditions youíre shooting in. This particular shot is underexposed by roughly two thirds of a stop, so increasing the exposure compensation by +2/3 EV when taking the shot would have meant it needed only minimal correction in post processing, but there are things we can do to brighten this shot.

    We can see here the histogram is telling us thereís very little information in the highlights to the right of the graph and much more to the left where the darks are, giving the overall dark appearance. We need to try shift this information to the right to brighten it up, and weíll do that in Levels.

    In terms of brightness, each pixel has an output range of 0 to 255, or black to white. Here you can see Iíve brought the highlights down from 255 to 216 and shifted the mid tones from 1 to 1.25. What this has done is take the slightly limited information we have and literally stretch it towards the right of the graph, but the down side of this is that because weíve stretched the information, there are now gaps between certain levels of brightness, leading to the image having a slightly over processed feel. That said, I'm editing an already edited JPEG, so you'll get much better results using the original.

    And the final image. I had to crop the copyright bar off so I could get an accurate reading on the histogram, but Iíve put Ďexampleí on this so no-one steals it! Hope thatís OK.

    As you can see, it feels slightly unnatural and different to how the camera would expose had it been a little more set up for the conditions. Itís always, without exception, better to set the camera for the conditions rather than resort to processing for correction, so when youíre out shooting be sure to keep a close eye on the histogram and if you see a gap to the right, increase exposure compensation until the graph shifts over a little closer to the right side but being very careful not to overexpose. Itís less critical if thereís a gap to the left because the vast majority of the information in your image is actually in the highlights, and so itís much easier to make the darks more pronounced than it is to brighten an underexposed image.

    Hope that helps.

    Seeing the world with a 3:2 aspect ratio...

    My images on Flickr


    • #3

      This is an explanation we can all learn from.
      Thanks for that.