I wrote this last night but didn’t have time to post it.
This is day three of my photo trip to the Caribbean aboard the Carnival Dream. Today’s port was Ocho Rios, Jamaica. There were a lot of great photo opportunities today.
To begin, I’d like to say a few words about composition. Composition is placing your subject in such a way as to create a more interesting photo. There are many ways to do this: placing your subject on one of the “power points” in the frame. Think of the power points this way; If you draw imaginary lines horizontally and vertically to divide the frame into thirds, any one of the points where the lines intersect is a “power point”. Placing your subject at one of these points will create a more appealing composition. Another way to look at it is looking at the lines. If you are shooting a sunset with the horizon visible, don’t put the horizon smack in the middle of the frame. Boring! Decide if the sky or the foreground is more important to the story you are trying to tell, and place the horizon along either the upper or lower third line. As with all things in photography, you have to learn the rules so you can know when to break them.
The other thing I wanted to talk about today is exposure bracketing. Exposure bracketing is available on most DSLR cameras. You can set your camera to shoot 3 exposures one behind the other. You can also set the stops above and below your settings you want to shoot. Your camera will try and expose your shot correctly, but it will get it wrong if you have too much contrast between light and dark in your scene. For example, have you ever tried shooting a sunset and the foreground is well exposed, but the sky was blown out and had no detail? Or the sky has detail but the foreground is too dark and you can’t see any detail?
Your camera’s sensor doesn’t have the same dynamic range as your eyes, but you can compensate for this using exposure bracketing. On my Canon camera you can set exposure bracketing using the exposure compensation setting. Consult your camera’s manual for how to reach the setting on your particular camera.
Once in the bracketing setting, you can choose how many stops above and below your set exposure your shots will be. For instance, in the shots below, I chose 1 stop on each side of you chosen setting. The shot one stop above may overexpose, and that’s OK. If it does, and your chosen exposure shows the foreground nicely, you can discard the overexposed shot. If not, you’ll see that the shot over your chosen setting will be lighter in the dark areas, and the sky will be blown out, if we continue to use our sunset as our baseline. Your chosen setting will show a little more detail in the sky, and the foreground will be darker. Finally in the third shot, the sky will show lots of detail and the foreground will be very dark. But all we have to do now is pull all three into Photoshop, use the combine command, and we will get a shot with good detail in both the sky and the foreground.
Unfortunately, I don’t have my laptop with photoshop on it, or I would show the end result. Maybe I’ll update the post once I return home.
So there you have it, 2 tips to help you with composition and getting a great exposure full of detail in your landscape photography.