The Maple Leaf Forever!

Autumn is a spectacular time of the year! Photography takes on a whole new meaning as we’re presented with boundless, colourful subjects. Recently, I experienced a rare, foggy autumn day. Fog creates wonderful lighting conditions, however, it’s difficult to capture a foggy scene and convey vibrance and impact that one expects of autumn. One solution is to wait and capture your images as conditions begin to clear.

In this photograph, sunlight illuminates the leaves of a yellow maple, in high contrast against the fog-enshrouded background of forest and blue mist.
In this photograph, sunlight illuminates the leaves of a yellow maple, in high contrast against the fog-enshrouded background of forest and blue mist.

Straight out of the camera this image carried a near perfect exposure. Shadow and highlight detail were maintained without clipping on either end of the spectrum (save for a small amount on the blue channel in the shadow detail). The scene is a blend of mixed light, and the background fog clearly shows it with an eerie bluish cast, for which I did not overcorrect. The subject – leaves of the small, yellow maple in the foreground – is the most important factor in this image. Presented in diffused sunlight, I exposed to place them right at the top end of the highlight scale, for lack of a better explanation.

If you use your camera’s histogram to adjust and control your exposure settings – and you should – you would have little difficulty exposing your scenes correctly. For this image all I had to do was figure out where the highlights for the leaves would fall and adjust accordingly. Because they are the only part of the scene in bright, diffused sunlight I knew that I wanted to place them to the far right of the graph, but not clipped.

On the second shot I was close to my exposure target, and on the fourth shot I was right where I wanted to be. I took five images and two I was quite happy with; all five I could work with, exposure wise, from a raw file.

Below is the screen capture of the histogram from Adobe Lightroom on my desktop computer before I performed any post-processing. It mimics the graph on the display of your camera’s rear lcd panel when selected.

Here is a screen capture of the histogram from Adobe Lightroom to show the exposure spread of the tones in the image.
Here is a screen capture of the histogram from Adobe Lightroom to show the exposure spread of the tones in the image.

Expose your images with the tone-graph mapped out correctly on the histogram and you can’t go wrong!

It’s a great day for photography. Shoot ’til it feels good!

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