Sometimes I actually leave the studio…
Here’s a quick example of how Photoshop can rescue a poorly exposed image. Below is the “before” image. Move your mouse over to see the “after” shot. Some explanation after the pic.
Shooting at sunset gives some gorgeous light, but not always for everything. I could have exposed it a bit longer, and brought out more of Dani’s face, but the sky would have been blown out to the point where it was almost white. Or, I could have exposed it less, and captured the deep colors of the sky, but Dani would have been just a silhouette. I didn’t do either of those. What I did, was expose halfway between the two, giving myself a weak sky and a dark model.
Photoshop let me dodge her face and burn the sky. Those terms are holdovers from the days of printing photos on paper in a darkroom. To “dodge” was to let less light hit a spot on the paper. To burn was to let extra light hit a space. In the old days this would have taken lots of time, trying to figure out the exposures, and waving funny shaped bits of cardboard over the paper. These days it took about 3 minutes.
Sometimes I shoot just JPG output. Other times I shoot RAW and JPG together. Ninety percent of the time I do nothing with the RAW files. Other times, I use the extra image data to make something cool. Here’s an example.
I was asked to shoot a pinup image for my friends Cthulhu Tiki Mug Kickstarter Campaign. (40 hours to go!) I had a very short amount of time, a willing model and a one-of-a-kind mug that needed to stay undamaged so it could go to China to become many mugs. We ran over to the park near my house around sunset for a quick shoot.
Take a good look. This is the exact same photo. The exposure was 1/15th of a second at F4.5 with ISO 100. On the left is what the camera sent as the processed JPEG. On the right is what the camera captured in RAW format.
I probably can’t pull this much out of every raw file, but it is an excellent example of why you should a least check them after a shoot.
They call it the magic hour or the golden hour. It’s that time right at sunset when the sun is just under the horizon but it’s still light out. Everything is warm and orange and there are no shadows. I took this pic during that time. While they call it an hour, really the best light last about 15 minutes. There’s no photoshop, no flash, and Dani’s got no makeup on. Sometimes having everything natural works the best.