(Ray)
(Fogra 39)Job:04-30554 Title:RP-Creative Photography Lab
#175 Dtp:225 Page:44
040-063_30554.indd 44 4/26/13 11:05 AM
(Ray)
(Fogra 39)Job:04-30554 Title:RP-Creative Photography Lab
#175 Dtp:225 Page:45
040-063_30554.indd 45 4/26/13 11:06 AM
Creative PhotograP hy Lab
44
Seeing the Light
(Text)
18-Percent Gray
In the early days of photography, someone
figured out that a typical landscape scene
averages about 18-percent reflectance. That
is, if you take all the tones in a black-and-
white photo and mixed them together like
paint, you end up with middle gray that turns
out to be 82 percent white and 18 percent
black. (It seems like it should be 50 percent
gray, but our eyes tell us that 18 percent is
really in the middle.)
The camera doesn’t know what you are
photographing, and it is programmed to
assume that you are taking a picture of a
typical scene that averages out to middle
(18 percent) gray. Surprisingly, this works
most of the time, but it fails if your subject
is made up of all bright or dark objects.
ash off
PAS: Use your exposure
compensation feature.
DSLR: Use manual mode or
exposure compensation.
smartphone: Use brightness
control if your phone has this
feature.
Settings
Every moment of light
and dark is a miracle.”
—Walt Whitman
In the last assignment, we messed with reality by making normal things really bright or really
dark. But what if your subject is dark and you want it to stay dark? Remember, the camera
determines exposure based on the average of all the lights and darks in the scene. This
works for most scenes, but not when your subject is mostly white or mostly black (this is why
you get gray snow or beach sand when shooting in these mostly white environments). Here
we will trick the camera to give us what we want.
Light and Dark
LAB
11
Find or create the following shots:
1. A situation where there is a mostly white
object against a white background. This
could be anything: a white cat on a
white rug or someone from Seattle on
the white sand in Hawaii.
2. Create the same situation with a dark
object and dark background.
3. Photograph each scene using auto or
the recommended exposure, and then
do a bracket from +2 to –2.
4. What works? Is your white object really
white at the normal exposure? Ironically,
we have to overexpose the white
subject to make it light enough and
underexpose when the subject is mostly
dark or black.
Let’s Go!
To get the white look I wanted, I had to overexpose by 1.5 stops.
This wedding dress was shot using the exposure the camera
determined to be normal and doesn’t capture the true whiteness
of the dress.
(Ray)
(Fogra 39)Job:04-30554 Title:RP-Creative Photography Lab
#175 Dtp:225 Page:44
040-063_30554.indd 44 4/26/13 11:05 AM
Creative PhotograP hy Lab Seeing the Light
45
(Text)
18-Percent Gray
In the early days of photography, someone
figured out that a typical landscape scene
averages about 18-percent reflectance. That
is, if you take all the tones in a black-and-
white photo and mixed them together like
paint, you end up with middle gray that turns
out to be 82 percent white and 18 percent
black. (It seems like it should be 50 percent
gray, but our eyes tell us that 18 percent is
really in the middle.)
The camera doesn’t know what you are
photographing, and it is programmed to
assume that you are taking a picture of a
typical scene that averages out to middle
(18 percent) gray. Surprisingly, this works
most of the time, but it fails if your subject
is made up of all bright or dark objects.
In the last assignment, we messed with reality by making normal things really bright or really
dark. But what if your subject is dark and you want it to stay dark? Remember, the camera
determines exposure based on the average of all the lights and darks in the scene. This
works for most scenes, but not when your subject is mostly white or mostly black (this is why
you get gray snow or beach sand when shooting in these mostly white environments). Here
we will trick the camera to give us what we want.
Light and Dark
Let’s Go!
To get the white look I wanted, I had to overexpose by 1.5 stops.
This wedding dress was shot using the exposure the camera
determined to be normal and doesn’t capture the true whiteness
of the dress.
I wanted the black suit to be black in the photograph, so I under-
exposed by one full stop.
This black suit turns gray using the camera’s “normal” exposure.
(Ray)
(Fogra 39)Job:04-30554 Title:RP-Creative Photography Lab
#175 Dtp:225 Page:45
040-063_30554.indd 45 4/26/13 11:05 AM

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