Tip: How to Create Drama

I posted a photography tip last night on Facebook and wanted to elaborate on that.

By the way, if you aren’t following me on my Facebook business page, get on it! :)  I post more photography tips and Before and After images on FB than on my blog.  I also LOVE hearing everyone’s questions and comments, so don’t just “like” my page…. say hello too!

How To Create Drama In Your Images

Today, I’m exposing this method of shooting:  intentionally UNDER-exposing your images!

Under-exposing your images can add drama.

Keep in mind that this method doesn’t work with every image — such as, moving subjects in low light (unless motion blur is your desired outcome) and uplifting wedding photos.  Play around to see how much ‘drama’ suits your style and when it’s good to use it.

Examples of Under-Exposed Images

Here are a few photos that I took from my hike in Muir Woods this past Father’s Day with my family.

Under-exposing images made some otherwise ho-hum images look cool, such as the plant image below.

Even though I shot this midday in bright sun, this image almost looks like it was taken in the evening.  I love the dramatic result!

For portraits, it puts more attention on the lighter areas because most of the image is dark.

A darker image can enhance the tone or mood.

Under-exposing also shows more texture in monochromatic images and color saturation in color images.

This shot was fun to capture because I was shooting directly upwards into the sun.

My thought process:  I wanted to show how tall these Redwood trees are and also wanted to include the sun in the frame to make it more interesting.  However, I didn’t want the entire image to be lightened from sun flare, which is what I typically like for my portraits.  The perfect solution was under-exposing the image.  The result is more dimension, controlled flare, and ability to see the texture of the bark, which I love!

Proper Exposure

There are times you don’t want your images to have meaty drama.

In the image below, I properly exposed the shot for my daughter Mia, which resulted in some lost details in the trees.  Though that may sound bad, the lighter background from the blown-out trees makes Mia ‘pop’ in the image, which works great, especially in this composition. 

Well, her hot pink owl shirt helps too (ha ha)!

Happy shooting and don’t be afraid to experiment!

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