Fixing Exposure Extremes as a Photographer.

What is “Clipping” in photography? 

When the brightest tones in your photograph are pure white, and they contain no image detail at all, this means the highlights have been “clipped” off. 

Conversely, when the darkest tones in your photograph are pure black, and they contain no image detail at all, this means the shadows have been “clipped” off. 

Clipped means that those areas of the photograph are outside of the recordable dynamic range, and they cannot be reproduced properly.

You can check for “clipping” by looking at your Histogram. In this image, we are using Lightroom as an example. This description would also apply to Photoshop and Adobe Elements as well. If you are using another editing program – one that shows the Histogram- then these tips will help you as well. 

The Histogram (in Lightroom) is located in the upper right corner of the “desktop workspace”. 

It typically looks something like a mountain range with peaks and valleys. 

A Histogram’s purpose is to display all of the tones located within a photograph using a numerical value on a graph. 

Concentrate on the two red arrows that are pointing upward at the Histogram. 

The left arrow points out the shadow end of the Histogram. Take notice that the “mountain range” (aka “the graph”) drops down to the baseline before it reaches the red arrow. 

This means that the shadow end is not clipped. All of the shadows that you see in the image preview window have recordable detail. 

The right arrow points out the highlight end of the Histogram. Take notice that the “mountain range” (aka “the graph”) is cut off before it reaches the red arrow. It never drops down to the baseline. 

This means that the highlight end is clipped off, the result being that not all of the highlights that you see in the image preview window will have recordable detail. 

Now, turn your attention to the two red arrows at the top of the Histogram. At the tips of those two arrows you will see two small icons. 

These icons are buttons. By hovering your cursor over them and doing a left click on your mouse, you can turn on, or off, a “clipping indicator”. 

The left icon is the “shadow clipping indicator”, and the right icon is the “highlight clipping indicator”.

In the image above, the clipping indicators are turned on. 

Look at the image preview window. 

The shadow clipping indicator would appear as a “blue overlay” wherever the clipping occurs on the image. 

We know from the Histogram that this image has no clipping in the shadow end, so we aren’t seeing any blue overlay. 

The highlight clipping indicator appears as a “red overlay” wherever the clipping occurs on the image. 

We know from the Histogram that this image does have clipping in the highlight end, so we are seeing a red overlay in those areas. (The far left red arrows are pointing at the areas of clipping.) 

Now that we have identified the clipping, and where it is located, we can attempt to fix it.

Minimum Handheld Shutter Speed for Crisp Photos

Minimum Handheld Shutter Speed for Crisp Photos

There is a good reason why professional photographers suggest that you use a tripod for tack sharp photos. We do not realize it, but even the tiniest of movements from our hands can creep into the image in the form of camera shake. This does not make much of a difference in general photos, but in those cases where sharpness is critical, even that minor shake can render your image unusable.

There are various factors that influence camera shake, and the shutter speed that you choose to use is one of them. By using a fast enough shutter speed, you can counter the camera shake caused by your shaky hands. This way, you can still end up with sharp photos. So, what is the minimum shutter speed that you should be using when handholding a camera? Well, the answer to this question is again influenced by the focal length of the lens that you use.

Reciprocal “Rule”

If you haven’t noticed, there is a direct impact of focal length on the amount of shakiness when handholding the camera-lens combo. When using short focal lengths, camera shake is usually not an issue unless you have a physical condition with shaky hands. On the other hand, when using a lens with long focal length, even a tiny bit of camera shake gets amplified and that can cause a good amount of unwanted blurriness in your photos.

In photography, there’s this concept called the reciprocal rule which gives a general idea of what shutter speed you should be using based on the focal length you’re working with. Simply speaking, this rule of thumb states that the minimum shutter speed you can use when hand-holding in order to nullify camera shake should be at least the reciprocal of the focal length (35mm equivalent).

Minimum shutter speed for shake-free image = 1/focal length (35mm equivalent)

For instance, if you are hand-holding a full-frame camera with a 200mm lens, your shutter speed should at least be 1/200s to cancel out any camera shake. And in case you’re using a crop-sensor, you’ll need to factor in the crop factor as well. So, if you’re hand-holding an APS-C camera with a crop factor of 1.5 with a 200mm lens, your minimum shutter speed should be at least 1/(200*1.5) = 1/300s (approx. 1/320s) in order to counter any camera shake.

However, keep in mind that this is just a general rule of thumb and not scientific. But, it is widely accepted because it works in real life. Depending on certain factors, you can vary your minimum hand-held shutter speed.

• If your lens and/or camera has stabilization, enabling it can allow you to shoot steady images at a shutter speed slower than the one recommended by the reciprocal rule.

• If you hold your camera steadily by tucking in your elbows while holding a firm stance, you can get sharper images at slower shutter speed.

• If you have a very high megapixel camera (>24MP), they are even more sensitive to the tiniest of shakes. So, you will need to use a shutter speed faster than the one recommended by the reciprocal rule.

If you’ve been getting camera shake in your images when working hand-held, now you know why. Practice how to hold your camera better, make use of the stabilization features in your camera and lens, and most importantly, use a fast enough shutter speed. Try these tips and you will realize an increase in sharpness in your images.

Focal Points and Eye Snags in Photography

If you’re having trouble identifying the best way to photograph a scene, the best way to start is to pick a subject or focal point.

Using a Focal Point: sit back for a moment and imagine yourself sitting on the front porch of a house. 

You’re looking out at the scene in front of you: there are trees, a street, two sidewalks and houses on the other side of the street. 

As you look out, do your eyes continuously wander- nonstop? 


They come to rest: on a squirrel in the tree, a child bouncing a ball on the sidewalk, an old woman looking out a window. Sure, we’re looking at the entire scene. 

But we look at the squirrel, rest, look at the child, rest, look at the woman, rest, and then continue on. 

These are focal points – resting spots.

In photographic composition, we like to think of them as “anchors”. They keep the viewer’s eyes from wandering aimlessly, unsure of what to take in next. 

A focal point is the part of an image that draws the eye of a viewer to the most important part of the image or the area that you want to highlight. How you do this will make or break the final image.

So how is this achieved? Here are a few techniques:

1 The rule of thirds

2 Selective focus

3 Exposure setup

4 Light source placement

5 Eye placement

6 and more

“Eye snags” must also be considered. Eye snags are focal points, but they are inadvertent and ill placed. Focal points are there on purpose. You placed them to anchor your viewer’s eyes in your photograph- usually near your subject.

Sometimes you will have two focal points and there will be competition, but, you can offset this by using size. One of the focal points must be considerably larger which will draw the eye but immediately your focus will move to the smaller focal point. If they are the same size the viewer’s eyes will dart between them. Care must be taken when using a double focal point.

In general, photographs will have one focal point. Sometimes the focal point is the subject, and sometimes the focal point merely supports the subject.

A focal point is essential to any great image. An image lacking this will appear flat and without impact. As you learn digital photography it will become easier and easier to place it in the right position.

Focus Stacking

What is Your New Year Resolution 2023?

1. Focus on a Passion, Not the Way You Look

2. Work out to feel good, not be thinner.

3. Stop gossiping.

4. Give one compliment a day.

5. Go a whole day without checking your email.

6. Do Random Acts of Kindness

7. Read a book a month.

8. Go someplace you’ve never been.

9. Clear out the clutter.

10. Turn off your phone one night a week.

11. Reduce your waste.

12. Volunteer.

13. Travel on a small budget.

14. Write down one thing you’re grateful for every night.

15. Drink more water.

16. Take a part of your paychecks and put it in savings or investments.

17. Stop multitasking.

15. Drink more water.

16. Take a part of your paychecks and put it in savings or investments.

17. Stop multitasking.

22. Clean out your car.

23. Put your bills on autopay.

24. Take the stairs.

25. Go to the dentist when you’re supposed to.

26. Be kind on social media.

27. Let go of grudges.

28. Stay in touch with the people who matter.

29. Try a totally new restaurant.

30. Start a new hobby.

31. Travel somewhere without posting about it on social media.

32. Bring a plant into your home.

33. Sanitize your personal belongings.

34. Start cooking!

35. Buy less plastic.

36. Send handwritten letters.

37. Donate clothes you never wear.

38. Pay off your credit card every month.

39. Avoid people who complain a lot.

40. Remove negativity or anything that makes you feel lousy.

41. Travel somewhere with no map.

42. Wear sunscreen.

43. Cook more.

44. Get a Real Haircut

45. Do Something That Scares You

46. Make Your Bed Every Morning

47. Stay on Top of Your Inbox

48. Try Guided Meditation

49. Stretch It Out

50. Craft Something Yourself

51. Go to Bed Happy Each Night

52. Spot Clean as You Go

53. Pay it Forward

54. Talk Less, Listen More

55. Whatever Your Goals Are, Write Them Down