Before and After — Fixing A Total Loss

The Before and After series focuses on the two or three key creative choices, in terms of composition and processing, that go into creating an image.  Specific technical details about the shot have been left out — you won’t hear me talking about tone curve adjustments and whatnot unless it was a key component of the end result.

Stephanie poses in an accidentally over-exposed photo.


  • Shutter:  1/250
  • Aperture:  f/2.0
  • ISO: 640
  • Camera:  Canon EOS 1Ds Mark III
  • Lens:  Canon EF 50mm f/1.2L USM

Composition and Processing

  • I’m usually pretty good at just guessing the exposure settings I need for a shot, but every now and then I go ridiculously wide of the mark.  I kind of liked the pose in this photo though, so I thought it would be worth seeing how far I could take it in post.
  • Once I’d brought the exposure down as far as I could in Lightroom, I had to acknowledge there was information missing from parts of the arms and face that simply wasn’t there.  The key then was to make sure the stuff that was in range was actually pushed up further relative to the blown out spots so they’d look less blown out by comparison.
  • I sometimes like this sort of crop with lots of negative space, but it has a secondary purpose here.  As above, having a lot of the image blown out to white de-emphasizes the blown out skin areas, making them tolerable.


March 30 2012 06:47 pm | Photography

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