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50 shades of Grey?

April 22, 2014  •  Leave a Comment

​   Okay, I'm not going to talk about erotica, so if you were looking for that...sorry.  What I am going to talk about is photographers who fail to get their exposure right when they're working with a white background.

​   Normally, when I'm looking at other photographer's work, I find it inspiring and deeply enjoyable.  In fact, I'm usually cruising through gorgeous photos by photographers I follow on Google+ every morning while I sip my coffee.  I love great photography!  But when I see someone, especially someone that I know is charging for their photos, fail to accurately capture a white background (or a white wedding dress), I get a little nuts.  It's like a musician hearing a song that's out of tune.  

  To make matters worse, I really, really, really, REALLY dislike the color grey.  Remember how your mom told you never to use the word hate?  Well, that's why I used so many "really"s.  If you don't believe me, you should ask my husband about the time we went to a linens store to get a new bedspread to go with our mango colored walls and the sales woman suggested we get dove grey.  I almost punched her.  So think of my strong aversion to seeing my least favorite color where I know white should be.  Yup, I breathe a little fire!

  I covered this when I talked about taking pictures in snow, but know that changing your exposure compensation is critical when you've got an abundance of white in any form.  If you let your camera decide what the exposure should be, you'll get grey (or now in the iPhone universe, blue) whites.  Why?  Because your camera doesn't perceive the color white.  It's seeing what it thinks is a ton of bright light and it believes that the perfect exposure is 18% grey.  So that gorgeous wedding dress you paid an arm and a leg for?  If your wedding photographer doesn't know what they're doing is going to look grey.  You know those beautiful, bright and airy newborn shots you see on Pinterest?  Not gonna happen if your portrait photographer doesn't take control of the exposure.    Here are a couple of examples.  Granted, they aren't wedding dresses or babies...its my rocker son, but you'll get the picture.

   A couple months back, I let the kiddos put on their daddy's old concert t-shirts, threw up the white backdrop and we played.   Now, I'll be honest, this first picture represents what would have happened if I had let the camera decide the exposure.  I had to do it in Lightroom for demonstration purposes, because when I shoot with fixed lights, I always shoot manual, so the exposure was spot on.

 

  I can hear your laughter and I'm with you!  His expression is priceless.  The focus is sharp, the elements are all there, but the fact that it's underexposed makes it look drab.  Put all that grey around someone and their skin starts to look drab and yucky too.  

 So how should this photo look, you ask.  It should look like this...

 

  My big boy in all his rock star glory.  The background is white and he pops right off of it, the way he's supposed to.  Can you see how big a difference it makes?

 So the next time you see your pictures coming out too dark and grey, you'll know that you need to increase your exposure.  And the next time you think you can save a couple of bucks by hiring your friend with a nice camera to take your wedding photos, you might want to reconsider.

 Better yet, give me a call and I'll make sure your pictures are perfect.  I'm the Castle Rock Photographer on a mission to make whites, white again!

 


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