Tuesday, 2 October 2012

Shadows and Highlights: The Mark of Excellence

Today's article from Picture Correct is by award winning writer / photographer Tedric Garrison who has 30 years experience in photography ( As a Graphic Art Major, he has a unique perspective. Today, he shares his wealth of knowledge with the world through his website and in this article he discusses how to deal with shadows and highlights.

Back in the days of Black and White I worked in a darkroom as a lab assistant; and sometimes students would make the mistake of asking me what I thought. If they wanted to learn this was not a mistake, but if they just wanted me say how great their work was . . . that was when it became a mistake. Sometimes I would advise them to crop tighter or change their center of balance, but by far the most common problem they had was with Shadows and Highlights.

I would ask a student to show me a pure “white” in their print and they would point to a cloud or something similar. I would say that’s not white, and they would argue with me. Now admittedly this was done under safelights; but once I asked them to fold over the edge of the print so they could see the back of the photo paper, that’s when I would say “Now that’s a pure white.”

They didn’t argue because they actually did have a pure white, they argued because that’s how they remembered the scene in their mind. I had to remind students again and again that unless you do something different, the camera only exposes at 18% gray. Likewise, in a darkroom, unless you do something different the prints that come out are also 18% gray. When you expose something at only 18% gray, you are using a middle of the road type exposure. That should be your starting point, not your final destination.

Follow the link to read the rest of the articleShadows and Highlights: The Mark of Excellence – PictureCorrect

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