By Kerry Drager
The issue of lighting contrast - scenes with bright highlights and deep shadows - comes up a lot among students at BetterPhoto's digital online photography school. Actually, it's a subject that comes up with ALL photographers!
Top pro and longtime BetterPhoto instructor Jim Zuckerman provides great thoughts and insights, plus a valuable tip on Photoshop for image editing:
"Our eye/brain combination is infinitely more sophisticated than a digital sensor. We can see detail in bright highlights and deep shadows at mid-day, whereas the way our cameras interpret the scene is very different. The shadows go dark and the highlights become very light, and sometimes they are overexposed.
"This is why I always shoot in RAW mode. This is the first line of defense in protecting the vulnerable highlights from losing texture and detail."
"This picture of a wolf I photograph in Montreal’s Ecomuseum was taken in bright sunlight," says Jim Z, "and even in RAW mode it was a challenge to get as much detail as you see here. I used the fill light slider to lighten the shadows and the recovery slider to hold back the highlights, and I was very pleased with the results — even though I could see much more detail with my eyes.
"Don’t think Photoshop is only used to alter reality and to do wild things with photos. Yes, of course it can be used for that. If you follow my work, you know I do those things all the time. But it is also used to tweak photos so they look just like how we perceived a scene or a subject with our eyes."