99 — Controlling brightness in photography

Pho­tog­ra­phy pod­cast #99 dis­cusses how to con­trol bright­ness in your images. Our eye tends to fol­low or rest upon bright objects in a pho­to­graph and very often these objects or ele­ments are not the focal point of the image thus caus­ing our eyes to wander.

Con­trol­ling the brighter ele­ments in a scene takes some plan­ning dur­ing shoot­ing, and some work in post-processing but ulti­mately your images will be stronger. You’ll also have way more con­trol over the final image where you the cre­ator of the image guide the viewer’s eye purposefully.

Bright­ness is well con­trolled in this image. Along with com­po­si­tional curves, part of what makes this image work is that other bright ele­ments in the scene are not com­pet­ing with the bride. All eyes are on her as she makes her entrance. Image by Dominic Fuizzotto

Image by Richard Sparey — This lovely image of deli­cious pears suf­fers slightly from what I call weak edges. This causes our eye to wan­der out of the frame. It’s more notice­able on printed white paper or on a pure white background.

The same image with the edges burnt in (dark­ened) quite a bit to show the effect. This helps keep our eyes from wan­der­ing. Thanks to Richard for allow­ing me to use this image.

Links /resources men­tioned in this pod­cast:
– August’s reg­u­lar assign­ment on the Photography.ca forum — Num­bers — Pho­to­graph some­thing with a num­ber
– August’s level 2 assign­ment on the Photography.ca forum — Cre­at­ing coun­ter­points
– Bright­ness prob­lems and dis­tract­ing ele­ments — Pod­cast #44
– Neu­tral den­sity fil­ters and grad­u­ated ND fil­ters — Inter­view with Dar­win Wiggett —  Pod­cast #77
– Dominic Fuiz­zotto Pho­tog­ra­phy
– Richard Sparey Photography

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  1. Great pod­cast! I like the men­tion that it’s fun to break the guide­lines once you’ve got them nailed. I love tak­ing still life shots of white objects (e.g. cof­fee cups, eggs, flow­ers) on a pure white back­ground. Some of the edges dis­ap­pear totally and you end up mak­ing sense of it by the shad­ows. V. cool blog.

  2. Anuj says:

    Hi Marko,

    this is not exactly related to this pod cast, but worth men­tion­ing i guess..

    When­ever you have posted images in pre and post kinda for­mat( ie with­out and with some cor­rec­tion), can you please post them side by side, I under­stand the obvi­ous prob­lem of space but when they are arranged ver­ti­cally, it becomes a bit dif­fi­cult to appre­ci­ate the changes intended to be shown…Hoping there would b a sim­ple solu­tion to it…

    Thank­ing you

  3. Rich says:

    Hi Marko, thanks for another infor­ma­tive pod­cast, keep up the good work.

  4. Rob vE says:

    Great show Marco. As always jam-packed with good info. Have to play it half speed to take it all in :-) I recently bought an ebook (Under­Stand­ing post-processing from M. Kanashke­vich) and it also showed how much dodg­ing and burn­ing he does to make an already great cap­ture, an even bet­ter final image.

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