Overexposed art photography overturns the codes of shooting
“The image is burned”, you may have heard or used this expression when discussing artistic photography. Indeed, too much light reduces the clarity of details. Yet on Instagram and in commercial campaigns, we find everywhere the overexposed photo and its implicit atmosphere of lightness. A cliché saturated with luminosity gives off a dreamy aesthetic, like a summer beach photo. In this article, we review the codes.
Understanding Overexposure in Fine Art Photography
If the style of overexposed fine art photography was born through happy accidents, today, this style follows defined codes. They can be seen in the work of Carly Tabak, landscape photographer in California whose Tropical Delight collection is reminiscent of the sand between the toes, the Californian dolce vita, enough to radiate a summer air all year round.
The High Key style
Overexposure as an artistic bias has a name: style high key. Technically, the approach consists of reducing the gray areas or eliminating them. This sunny style with a warm aesthetic has become synonymous with relaxation and an ethereal atmosphere, bordering on the abstract photo. The blurring that characterizes them aims to give all the light to the main subject.
Who says overexposure, says brightness. Photographers who make the overexposed photo style their signature invest in rugged gear to bring several complementary light sources. The photographer's gear high key includes strobe spots, one or more softboxes that will help reduce medium and deep shadows. Finally, a pristine white background will bounce the light back to the subject and also take care of reducing areas of contrast.
What settings for an overexposed artistic photo?
In the practice of film photography, overexposure is a matter of fine mastery of device settings. In digital photography, this overflow of luminosity is easier to obtain intentionally and to process afterwards in order to achieve the desired effect.
In short: an overexposed photo will show a level higher than 0 on the light meter. To achieve this effect, we use a combination of settings, here they are:
Shutter speed determines the exposure time of the image and therefore the amount of light in the camera. A longer aperture time allows more light through when shooting. In particular, it makes it possible to obtain an artistic photo of a skyline at night by noting the traces of lights left by vehicles.
The aperture diameter of the lens should be set according to the shutter speed. The bigger it is, the greater the exposure. In short, a deliberately overexposed art photograph favors a slower shutter speed and a larger aperture diameter than those of a classic image.
ISO controls the sensitivity of the device and its sensors to light. A lower ISO, for example 200, will be more sensitive to light, perfect for a sunny beach photo. On the other hand, a high ISO, say 800, will be able to handle an artistic landscape photo taken at night better.
The WB, or white balance, allows you to fine-tune the color sensitivity. Some digital cameras offer to compensate for the higher exposure of a larger lens aperture diameter.
Beware of the inferior processing quality of overexposed digital photos. Faced with the excess of brightness, a conventional digital camera cannot process all the information in a fine manner. More blurred, the abstract photo will be filled with areas of light colors and will lose sharpness.
Most current digital cameras offer automatic settings dedicated to various subjects to avoid the problem of overexposure. TAny overexposed art photo will have to bypass the automatic settings. As you will notice on some works offered on X-Plorar, overexposure is not an accident, but an artistic intention.
Wanna get into style high key ?
- To better understand its mechanics, you can practice maximize light sources in an empty room.
- Privilege 360° subject brightness to minimize contrast.
- When in doubt, remember thatthere is rarely too much light in a stylish photo high key whose sharpness is controlled.
- Outdoors, high-light landscape photography offers an engaging exercise that changes from day to day. Think of the photo of the beach, stretches of sand, dunes or the snowy countryside.
- A would, a building with large clear walls can lend itself to your tests.
- Prefer clear days and times of day with high light.
Finally, it is undeniable that a many overexposed artistic photos are the product of software processing. Experiment with different degrees of exposure and see how you can add more definition or rebalance colors later. In other words, an abstract photo by overexposure is not always a happy accident, but a diligent study of the subject!