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The impact of light and shadows on exposure
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The Impact of Light and Shadow on Exposure

Photography can be very tricky for those who are new to the process and to be honest, it is safe to say that more you know, the better. This also means that more often than not, people end up getting confused and that never really ends good for the photographer.

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So, what do we do in such a situation? Well, we have to understand the impact of light and shadow on exposure. Exposure, for a lot of us, is perhaps one of the most important aspects in photography and it is not at all something that you can afford to get wrong or mess up. If you end up underexposing or overexposing your shots, you will end up getting access to something that looks awful with very little use.

So, we are going to figure out just how light and shadow end up impacting the pictures that you take.

How Light and Shadows Impact Exposure

Now, it is important to understand that light and shadow are important part of the photography, every single photo that you take has some degree of light and shadow in them, and yes, the same goes the low-light or night time photography, too. In order to have the picture perfectly exposed, you need to have the perfect balance of light and shadow because only then you will be able to get the results you want. Plus, light and shadow are also important in handling the exposure triangle, which is a very common thing in photography.

So, why are light and shadow so important for exposure? Let’s have a look at some of the obvious reasons that they are so important.

1-     They Bring Excellent Dimensions to a Picture

More often than not, we have seen pictures that look excellent on paper but upon close inspection, you realise that they lack any real depth to them and look completely flat. You won’t be the only one who has noticed this because a lot of times, I have seen people realizing that the pictures they are taking lack any sort of dimension.

Take, for example, a picture that has a lot of light in it but very few shadows, you will find the image one dimensional and it will be overexposed unlike anything you have seen. Conversely, take a look at the picture that only has shadows in it with very little light, the lack of light in that picture makes it underexposed, which just goes to show that there is no balance.

A properly exposed photo will have the right amount of light and shadow, and therefore, will be useable, and will actually look much better. So, be sure that you keep this in mind before going forward.

2-     Grabs the Attention

If you have ever seen a long exposure shot, you will realize how it just pulls your attention right away. Even if you are not able to make sense of what is going on in the picture at first glance, you still manage to get an understanding of it, and be able to spend some time looking to it.

The same happens when you are looking a shot that has a proper balance of light and shadows. Any properly exposed shot will immediately grab your attention and you will be able to make the most out of that without having to worry too much.

The best thing? Just like you don’t always need a top-tier camera for long exposure, you also don’t need a top-tier camera for properly balanced shots. You can achieve the results using any camera, even your smartphone camera, for that matter.

So, the next time you are looking to get beautiful looking photos, be sure that the light and dark parts of your photo are perfectly balanced and you will have a great looking picture in your hands.

3-     Offering Better Contrast

Another benefit that you are going to get from a balanced combination of light and shadow is that the picture will come out looking excellent thanks to all the contrasting elements that are going to be an image. The viewer, when looking at the image, will be able to tell the difference between various elements in a photo, an aspect that a lot of people overlook generally.

Any image that has good contrast manages to stand out without needing any extra work on it. Therefore, as a photographer, it should always be a priority for you to ensure that you are doing everything you can to get the contrast you are looking for. This can easily be done by creating a perfect balance of light and shadows in your picture.

What to Do If Light and Shadows Aren’t Balanced in a Photo?

More often than not, the light and shadows aren’t balanced in a photo for one reason or another, and while this sound like a minor issue, you can actually end up having a picture that does not look good and we want to change that.

Well, for starters, there is an easy fix to that. The first thing that you need to do is shoot a photo in RAW. That will ensure that all the information is stored within the picture so you can manipulate it with ease and without any complication.

The next thing that I am going to suggest is that you should always edit your images in Lightroom and Photoshop, the RAW images that you have managed to take can be edited where you can restore shadows and light/highlights from within the image. Yes, these tools do have a learning curve but once you have managed to learn how to use them, you should not really have any issues that could otherwise come in the way.

So, always be sure that you are editing the pictures you have taken and adjusting the light and shadows yourself to ensure that the exposure is 100% correct and you are not getting a picture that cannot be used.

the impact of light and shadow on exposure


I do understand that anyone getting into photography could easily be overwhelmed. There normally is so much to learn that you get worried about finding what works and what doesn’t. Therefore, in this article, we tried our best to make sure that all the confusion is solved so people don’t have any confusions about dealing with these things.

Light and shadow are two of the most important aspects about taking a picture, so you cannot really go wrong if you are not taking care of it. If you want to get the best pictures possible, it is important to know that having an understanding of light, shadows, exposure, and everything in between will make for a stellar photography experience.

Frequently Asked Questions

Light and shadow together make sure that you are getting a proper exposure in the shot. If either of them is not balanced properly, you will end up with images that are either underexposed or overexposed.

Light and shadow combine together to ensure that the image is exposed the right way. A properly exposed image looks pleasing to the eye and has all the details in it whereas underexposed or overexposed images normally don’t look good at all.

Shadow in lighting or images in general is there to add an extra depth and facet to an image and ensure that it does not look completely flat. An image lacking either shadow or light will end up looking bad.

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