Better Available Light Digital Photography

237 Pages · 2008 · 8.55 MB · English

  • Better Available Light Digital Photography

    Better Available Light

    Digital Photography This page intentionally left blank Better Available

    Light Digital


    How to Make the Most of Your

    Night and Low-Light Shots

    Second Edition

    Joe Farace

    Barry Staver




    Focal Press is an imprint of Elsevier Associate Acquisitions Editor: Valerie Geary

    Publishing Services Manager: George Morrison

    Project Manager: Mónica González de Mendoza

    Marketing Manager: Kate lanotti

    Cover Design: Eric DeCicco

    Cover image: © Joe Farace

    Focal Press is an imprint of Elsevier

    30 Corporate Drive, Suite 400, Burlington, MA 01803, USA

    Linacre House, Jordan Hill, Oxford OX2 8DP, UK

    © 2009 Joe Farace and Barry Staver. Published by Elsevier, Inc. All

    rights reserved.

    No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval

    system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic,

    mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, without the prior

    written permission of the publisher.

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    You may also complete your request online via the Elsevier homepage

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    Recognizing the importance of preserving what has been written,

    Elsevier prints its books on acid-free paper whenever possible.

    Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data

    Farace, Joe.

    Better available light digital photography : how to make the most of

    your night and low-light shots / Joe Farace, Barry Staver.

    p. cm.

    Includes index.

    ISBN 978-0-240-80999-1 (pbk. : alk. paper) 1. Available light

    photography. 2. Photography–Digital techniques. I. Staver, Barry,

    1948– II. Title.

    TR590.F367 2008



    British Library Cataloguing-in-Publication Data

    A catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library.

    ISBN: 978-0-240-80999-1

    For information on all Focal Press publications

    visit our website at www.books.elsevier.com

    08 09 10 11 12 5 4 3 2 1

    Printed in China

    Working together to grow

    libraries in developing countries

    www.elsevier.com | www.bookaid.org | www.sabre.org Contents

    Introduction ix

    The “gasp factor” ix

    This one’s for you xi

    It’s all about the photographs xii

    What’s new xii

    Chapter 1 What is available light? 1

    The golden hour 2

    Zap! 7

    Weather tips from Barry 7

    Light is light 8

    What is exif and what is it good for? 13

    Artifi cial light 15

    Painting with light 19

    Artifi cial natural light 21

    The philadelphia story 22

    Out of the past: fi lm noir 23

    Moulin rouge! 24

    Flash in the pan 26

    Chapter 2 Basic exposure 29

    The age of aquarius 31

    Light and color 37

    Meet the histogram 40

    The perfect exposure 42

    Really available light 43

    Creating high dynamic range images 45

    HDR in Photoshop 47

    Other HDR software 49

    HDR fi les from scanned fi lm 51

    What does it all mean? 53

    Chapter 3 Digital noise: What it is and how to

    deal with it 55

    Noise comes from many sources 57

    Chip size vs. Noise 58

    Shutter speed vs. ISO speed 59 vi Contents

    Do a noise test 60

    Built-in noise suppression 60

    Noise-reduction software 63

    Got noise? 64

    Picture code 66

    Keepin’ it neat 67

    Visual infi nity 68

    Applied science fi ction 69

    The imaging factory 70

    Stoic STOIK 71

    Noise in motion 72

    Taking action against noise 74

    Noise in print 77

    Our take on noise 78

    Chapter 4 White balance techniques 81

    Light is light? 82

    Real-world color balance 84

    AWB: color-temperature range of approximately

    4000–8000 k 86

    Daylight: approximately 5200 K 87

    Shade: approximately 8000 K 88

    Cloudy: approximately 6000 K 89

    Fluorescent light 90

    Tungsten light: approximately 3200 K 91

    Flash: approximately 5400 K 92

    Manual 94

    Facing lighting challenges indoors 95

    On location 99

    Black and white? 102

    In-camera monochrome color effects 106

    No more fi lm storage 109

    Chapter 5 Fast lenses 111

    Zoom vs. prime lenses 114

    Case study: canon’s 85 mm f/1.2 L lens 117

    One more time, boys 122

    Image-stabilization lenses 124

    Case study: fun in acapulco 124

    In-body stabilization 130

    Does it matter? 132

    What about depth of fi eld? 132

    Chapter 6 Tripods and other camera supports 137

    Standing on three legs 138

    It’s made of what? 142

    Carbon-fi ber choices 143 Contents vii

    Legs and feet 146

    Heads and columns 147

    The tripod bottom line 150

    Monopods 151

    Panorama heads 155

    Alternate supports 159

    Chapter 7 Available light photography at weddings 161

    The new wedding photography 165

    New technology = new opportunities 170

    Wedding-day coverage 170

    Off to the reception 176

    Chapter 8 RAW-image-fi le capture 181

    Paper or plastic? 181

    What’s behind door no. 1 184

    Making the decision 186

    Pros and cons 188

    JPEG advantages 188

    JPEG disadvantages 188

    RAW advantages 189

    RAW disadvantages 189

    Digital fi lm? 189

    Raw software 192

    Adobe camera raw 194

    Workfl ow: pictures, you’ve got pictures 195

    Sort ’em out 196

    Did somebody say distribution? 198

    Embed copyright with your fi les 199

    Glossary 203

    Index 217 This page intentionally left blank Introduction

    When making photographs, never forget the “Gasp Factor.”

    —Dick Stolley, former Time-Life managing editor

    When learning and refi ning their skills, most photographers

    progress through three distinct phases. The fi rst stage occurs

    immediately after they get their fi rst “good” camera and begin

    discovering the potential of the medium. During this time, novice

    shooters photographically explore their world with a high level

    of enthusiasm. Every new batch of images they examine con-

    tains photographs that look much better than the photographer

    ever imagined they could. Unfortunately, this blissful period

    doesn’t last long and is quickly replaced by the next period.

    In phase two, the shooter’s level of enthusiasm is still high,

    but is diminished when reviewing his or her newest captures

    only to discover that they are much worse than expected. As

    photographers continue to improve their skills by reading pub-

    lications such as Digital Photographer and Shutterbug, attend-

    ing workshops and seminars, and practicing their art, they

    eventually reach the fi nal phase.

    At this level, the image that photographers see in their camera’s

    viewfi nder is exactly the same thing that appears on the camera’s

    LCD screen or computer monitor. Although reaching this phase

    can be fulfi lling, some of the magic is gone. If you would like

    to experience some of the same thrill of discovery that occurred

    during the fi rst phase of your photographic education, we would

    like to suggest that you photograph when the available light may

    not be so available.

    The “Gasp Factor”

    When you turn the pages of magazines, books, and newspapers,

    do you ever notice how some images just grab you? These great

    photographs are unique; they are different. They literally force

    you to stop and take a second look at them. When confronted

    by this kind of photograph, do you sometimes wonder, “How

    was that taken?” Perhaps you just think, “I wish I could do that.”

    The goal of this book is to answer both the question and the

    wish. We will take you behind the scenes and show you how

    many different kinds of available light photographs were made

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