Sometimes our photos end up being underexposed by accident, or because of poor lighting conditions. But what about doing it on purpose? Photographer Manny Ortiz admits he tends to underexpose his photos for one or two stops. In this video, he talks about why he does it and about the benefits of this approach.
Since Manny shoots mainly portraits, he uses this technique in portrait photography. Also, it’s useful when he works in natural light. When the lighting is tricky, you should follow the general rule to expose for the highlights in order to keep them intact. For example, when there are bright highlights in the background, Manny tends to underexpose one to two stops to prevent them from getting blown out. This gives him more flexibility when editing photos. Also, it provides him with more options for editing.
Keep in mind that the final result of post-processing depends on your camera’s dynamic range. Not every camera provides you with the same amount of shadow recovery. But still, as Manny points out, it’s also easier to recover shadows than it is to recover highlights.
Of course, you don’t have to do it for every single photo you make. It’s important to know your gear and what it’s capable of doing, so you know how far you can go with recovering the shadows in post. Also, know the light and what you can do with it.
[Should you UNDEREXPOSE your photos PURPOSELY? | Manny Ortiz]