Exercise 8: Camera dynamic range

Using the camera’s highlight clipping to find the exposure which just captures the brightest highlight.

Scene: distinctly high dynamic range

  • bright sunlight
  • at least one brightly reflecting surface
  • an area of deep shadow with a dark surface
  1. Place white paper near the dark shadow.
  2. Make sure the ISO is at it’s lowest. Turn off any noise reduction.
  3. Set the exposure and shoot so that there is just no highlight clipping of the white paper.
  4. Measure and make notes of the brightness of the white card and of two or three of the darkest shadow areas.
  5. Make a written note of the aperture / shutter speed combinations, and note exactly which areas were measured.

SceneOn a bright sunny day I chose my garden shed for this exercise, attaching a white piece of card to the side so that I could compare it to the shadow in the window and underneath the roof. After making sure that my camera was set to ISO 100 I  found that an aperture of f/3.5 and shutter speed of 1/60 produced an image that had the least amount of highlight clipping. Then I used spot metering t record the aperture and shutter speed for each feature. See the image below for my results.

Garden shed showing camera information for highlight and shadow information.

Garden shed showing camera information for highlight and shadow information.

On first glance the brightest area has a fast shutter speed and the shadows require a much slower shutter speed in order to record the necessary image detail.With a shutter speed of 1/30 in the shadow of the window and a fast shutter speed of 1/350, my Canon 7D would have a dynamic range of approximately 2 full stops for this image.

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