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Tampere
Finland

(+358) 50 344 8489

One year with Sony Alpha cameras and ZEISS E-mount lenses. Developing my own photographic eye in a in a scratch book manner. Hunting the stream of inspiration and sharing it through a popular blog platform.
This is what 'Days of Zeiss' is all about.

Journal

 

 

Underexposed!

Toni Ahvenainen

Sony A7 & ZEISS Batis 1.8/85 – f/1.8, 1/200sec, ISO100, raw Photograph by Toni Ahvenainen

Sony A7 & ZEISS Batis 1.8/85 – f/1.8, 1/200sec, ISO100, raw
Photograph by Toni Ahvenainen


One thing that used to limit my photography was the aim for the correct exposure. For many photographers it's a kind of a standard way of seeing the world and its possible photographic scenes around them. It's really an unconscious notion characterized by the philosophical idea that photography, in general, represents the reality like it is without altering it. Even if one is learned enough to dismiss these kind of early ideas of photography, it still haunts in our everyday practices. For example, all the automation build into modern cameras, like multi-zone metering and all, are carrying this kind of idea behind them. So it's no wonder we take it for granted in photography, but to be fair it should also be added that in many cases it is a very useful way of thinking.

However, as much as I give credit to the idea of correct exposure, I also think it has a tendency to limit our photographic imagination. To go against the grain I've learned to underexpose on purpose when I feel it adds something to the scene – and I'm not talking about compensating the recommended exposure for the dark scenes, but quite literally to underexpose the scene by over a one stop or more. Underexposing the image usually alters the perception of dynamics as it pulls the highlights down a bit and gives more room for shadows. Many times it also emphasizes certain colors as they get that deeper tone when the lumination decreases. On top of that you also get to do your images at lower ISO, which decreases noise, and at the same time, increases the dynamic range your camera can capture.

So, today's picture is underexposed about one stop and while it was already done within a blue hour the effect of dusk if greatly emphasized by this technique. There are, of course, a lot of possibilities in post processing nowadays which can be used to mimic the same effect, but I think that in many times one just gets carried away and the end result just doesn't have that same plain photographic look than doing it in the camera. And while the underexposing has always been one the classic photographic means to introduce a photographers own interpretation to the image, it carries a certain semiotic meaning in our collective imagery of classic photography in general. Try it and be surprised of how much drifting away from the idea of correct exposure can bring to your photography.