This is Dustin Abbott’s final installment of his short article series about using Exposure to enhance his photos. Check out the first and second part if you haven’t seen them yet. Dustin, you have the floor.
We established the importance of making your images stand out from the crowd in the first article of this series. In the second, I demonstrated how Exposure can help achieve this goal by subtly enhancing an image to help it reach its full potential. In this final installment, let’s look at it from a different perspective. What if your creative vision goes beyond subtle enhancements? It could even go beyond what can be captured by the camera. If that’s the case, Exposure is definitely your friend. Take this image, for example:
I shot this a few weeks ago at dawn, getting nice, muted pastel colors, a soft, rising mist, and still waters that gave a nice reflection. It’s a pretty shot, but I had a high-key, monochrome shot in mind. I thought this would make a dreamier and more artistically subtle image.
To accomplish this, I first chose a bracketed exposure that was overexposed by a few stops. You could accomplish this similarly with a RAW file by increasing the exposure. You may lose a little quality, but it works. That being said, here’s a tip: if you are in the field and have a great scene in front of you, take the time to bracket exposures. Even if you don’t do HDR, the different exposure options present amazingly different images.
My overexposed frame already gives a hint of where I want to go. The shadows are lifted, the mist becomes more apparent, and the water lilies in the foreground are less evident. My vision is for the island to rise out of the mist, and so I want the foreground and sky to vanish. I typically launch Exposure from Photoshop instead of Lightroom for one main reason: layers. I like the ability to mask a bit of the image, reduce opacity, or even change the blending mode after Exposure. In a word–control.