Lens-Artists Challenge #224 – Exposure

horse, window, barn
A Horse is a Horse Of Course, Of Course

“Exposure in photography = Salt in food.”

Lakshman Iyer

This week Sofia has given us an opportunity to work with photographic exposure. While I often adjust exposure in the field, more often I use exposure to adjust my images in post-processing for artistic effect. For me “correct” exposure creates an accurate portrayal of what was seen in the field, as above. (As an aside, correctly exposing my opening image was a challenge because of the stark contrast between the dark horse, the barn interior and the brilliant sunshine outside of the barn at high noon.) In the edited image below, I’ve adjusted the exposure to create something a bit more artistic by over-exposing it in post-processing.

horse, over processed, white, artistic
Artistically Over-exposed Horse – Still a Horse!

“Exposure occupies my mind while intuition frames the images.”

Minor White

Sometimes exposure adjustment can be used to isolate a subject. For example, beautiful blossoms can often be surrounded by distracting clutter like multi-colored leaves or things like homes, weeds, trees or sidewalks. Magnolias such as the one below are particularly difficult to isolate.

magnolia, flower, white, leaves
Magnolia, Surrounded

“Crystallize in your own mind at the time of exposure just what you are trying to say, to mentally trim the scene down to your subject.”

Leendert Drukker

I loved both the Drukker quote above and the Karsh quote that follows the image below. What, really, did I want the photograph to say? That a magnolia’s purity is beyond compare, that its lovely petals are naturally symmetrical, and that its beauty comes from its simplicity. To me, the original image cannot compare with the one below, on which I’ve dropped the background exposure to clear out the clutter that surrounded it. This is something much easier to do in post than in the field.

magnolia, white, contrast, isolation
Purity Personified, Magnolia

“It should be the aim of every photographer to make a single exposure that shows everything about the subject.”

Yousuf Karsh

Sometimes an exposure ‘tweak’ can improve our results when photographing people by eliminating distractions and softening the skin. The image below, from last summer’s family reunion, captures one of my favorite little people, my great-niece. The differences between the two images are subtle but I think make a nice improvement. What do you think?

child, comparison
Here’s Looking At YOU Kid

“A camera exposes more than just a image. It also exposes the photographer.

Steve Coleman

Finally, during a visit to North Carolina this summer my husband and I came upon a trio of turtles sunning themselves on a rock. Once again I felt that the messy waters that surrounded them added too much clutter. Adjusting the exposure in camera either made the water too bright or the subject too dark. Hence, my choice to work toward an artistic impression using post-processing exposure adjustment. Here are the original and the edited images.

turtles, three
Three Turtles – Original

“Photography can light up darkness and expose ignorance.”

Lewis Wickes Hines
Turtles, water, Three
Three Turtles – Edited

“The world is one huge canvas, find your location and expose your film passionately!”

Steve Denby

Thanks to Sofia for the opportunity to explore how exposure can be used to create images that reflect our vision. We look forward to seeing your examples. Be sure to link your response to Sofia’s original post and to use the Lens-Artists Tag to help us find you. Thanks also to John for his inspirational Flights of Fancy challenge. We were amazed at the creativity and originality of all of the responses. Finally, be sure to visit us next week when Anne Sandler of Slow Shutter Speed will host our next challenge. Until then, as always please stay safe and be kind.

Interested in joining the Lens-Artists challenge? Click here for more information.


71 thoughts on “Lens-Artists Challenge #224 – Exposure

  1. Pingback: Lens-ArtistPC-224-Exposure – WoollyMuses

  2. I learnt so much from this post and this series! Appreciate the detailed explanation Tina. Iโ€™m going to try some of the techniques on my older pictures where the background is indeed distracting. I donโ€™t know how yet, but I will try, now that I know what to look for!

  3. Wow, now I see what your doing, Tina. Your post gave me some exposures on how to play with my iPhone! The exposed face of the girl is awesome! Thank you, teacher.

    • Thanks sylvia – the horse original is the clear favorite over the edited version – for me as well! The turtle edit is about 50-50 in terms of preference. I like the edited version, my husband prefers the original. Chocolate and vanilla, right?!

  4. Beautiful use of exposure, Tina. Love them all but especially the child – a sweetie! The right one is the favourite with me. Sft and clear skin. The first horse image is a stunner.

    • Thanks Ann-Christine. I struggled with this one a bit until I thought about the magnolia (which I’d edited before and actually have hanging in my home) and my niece (which I liked before the edits but when I played with it for the challenge I liked the edited version better. Don’t you love it when that happens?! ๐Ÿ˜Š

  5. Like you I enjoy post processing. It is a fun hobby as well. I am glad you addressed the outside clutter with both your images and your quotes. I agree, sometimes the best photo is lost in “leaves” or shiny water. The magnolia a great example.

    I do love your first photo of the horse. It is just simply a great photo.

    And I think your great niece would be cute in any photo.

    • Thanks Donna – clearly the preference on the horse this week is au natural (mine too I must admit). Also thought the edited magnolia was an improvement over the original – wonder if it would have worked with your iPhone trick this week???

      • I wondered too. It takes a lot of work away. but like an artist mixes paint, photographers love to edit. I am that person too, but I will use this.

  6. Ho hum. Superrrrb photos as alway. At least I don’t get bored with GREAT photography. I like the horse, of course, au natural is my preference, and black backgrounds always seem to be great. Child on right, with warmer, glowing skin, less harsh light, is my fave there. Excellent all around!

    • Thanks John – it seems most everyone agrees re the horse, including yours truly ! In the interest of Sofia’s challenge I gave it a shot but must admit it wasn’t my favorite either LOL. I also prefer au natural on that one.

  7. Like you I tend to play more with exposure in post-editing rather than when I take a shot. I often need to fiddle a bit before I settle on a version of an image that pleases me. I was interested to read how you do much the same and the thinking that influences your editing decisions. I love that magnolia in particular!

    • Thanks Sarah – it’s truly amazing how far photo editing has come in the past few years. Sometimes it’s hard to keep up with the improvements! Glad you appreciated the magnolia – it’s one of few images I have hanging in my home.

  8. I agree with all your examples minus the turtles, I do love the water effects you had before, but that obviously is just my personal taste. The magnolia one is absolutely stunning, there’s so much more feeling with no background to distract us. Gorgeous work, Tina.

    • Thanks Sofia, both for the comment and the challenge! The turtles are getting mixed reviews. I prefer the edited version but my husband prefers the original as do several other commenters on both sides! Like you I’m 100% in favor of the edited magnolia, and the image of my niece was edited strictly for your challenge and I much prefer the new version so thanks for that!!

  9. Exposure is a great topic for photographers, and your collection didn’t let me know. Awesome! Love the subtleness of the two pics of your great-niece (for me, I favor the right one) …. the black background for the turtles and magnolia are wonderful. Thumbs up, Tina!

    • Many thanks Frank. The turtle image has been bugging me since I took it this summer. I’m not sure I’m thrilled with it still but I do like it better. And I’ve framed the edited magnolia image in my home.

  10. Wonderful examples of the theme of exposure! Love that final magnolia and the turtles. I love how the tweak of exposure lets the beauty of your niece shine through, Tina! I ALWAYS adjust the exposure (especially contrast and highlights) in my images. It’s amazing what that little bit can do for a great image.

    • Thanks Terri, I’ll admit I struggled a bit before coming up with this one. Honestly I hadn’t played with my great-niece’s photo before the challenge but I was much happier with the tweaked image.

  11. These are all lovely, Tina, but my favorite is the turtles. Wow. The detail of their shells really pops with the black background.
    I had to laugh at the horse photo because that is me trying (still!) to figure out Manual mode on my camera. **Dang! Wrong exposure again!** I have an entire file folder called ‘overexposed.’ ๐Ÿ˜†

  12. Beautiful set of image examples, Tina! Thank you for including your great-niece photo, adorable. I also love both turtle images.
    This one is challenging. ๐Ÿ™‚

  13. Photography is so fascinating! You must love the ability to do this type of work…especially loved the magnolia, turtles and of course your grand niece!

    • It is that Laurel, thanks! I do enjoy the process whether it’s achieving the look I want by using the camera’s technology or the many tools now available to us afterwards. It’s a fun and rewarding process – most of the time LOL

  14. Great examples of using exposure to set a mood or accent the subject. I can’t make up my mind between the two images of your great niece. I think I’ll have to go with the original because it keeps her soft. The turtles certainly stand out better as does the magnolia. Love it.

  15. Your great niece and the turtles have responded particularly well to your treatment. Lovely! I think this snapshot-ist will give this challenge a miss. It’s above her pay-grade ๐Ÿ˜‰

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