LoFi, Fo Fum – Reducing dynamic range in finished photos and liking it

So there’s a big push to well, push. I’m not just talking about climbing harder or running faster, but I’m also talking about contrasting more. Yup.  Got to push those highs just into the yellow zone before they blow out, and well, those blacks need to be a hair above “no information” and what do you have – a high dynamic range photo that techno-colorizes the world. (click on any image to enlarge)

This is a sample cover using directional lighting in a still life.  Those whites are at about 254 and the blacks are hovering around 1 – FYI the scale runs from 0 to 255 with either number being the extreme “blown out” or “unexposed”.  Lots of photographers are trained to utilize, and fill out that tonal range. Here’s a nice article on tonal range/dynamic range from a great training resource: Cambridge in Colour.  On top of that, if you are familiar with the Nik software (which is by the way top-notch), you will notice that there is a treatment in Color Efex 3.o called “Pro Contrast”.  Just guess what that does. Yup – it pushes the blacks blacker and whites whiter.  It’s sort of like an ad for All laundry detergent – “everything is just better with A-L-L”.

Here’s a recent headshot I did from a corporate photoshoot.  Yes, I did say corporate, and no they weren’t ecologists.  Here’s what I like about Alan’s portrait and finish: to me the softer tones leave you with a warmer feel.  The highs aren’t screaming at you.  Your eyes drift, rather than rush.  It’s not over-sharpened and over-contrasted – it’s a bit milder.  Dynamic range was compressed here notably on the white end.

And here are a couple of boys from Turkey.  There’s a feeling of them looking for, out into a future.  This is even lower contrast – or low con – than Alan.  It almost feels colored, foggy, but authentic.  Note that I’m not just pushing a bunch of fill light into these photos, instead, I’m pulling back on highs and low in post processing.  It’s an old look, that suddenly feels new, and nice to me.

Will this work for couples and more formal shooting.  I think so.  I think Marty and Sandy would think so too.  This is a shot from a recent engagement shoot.  I love the softness of this and the depth that lowcon adds.  A dreaminess and almost a soft textured finish.  Do you like it? Would you want formals like this? Inquiring minds want to know!

So here’s my parting shot from the Alameda shore.  Lowcon, textured.  This is our view of the City and somehow it feels… manageable and friendly.

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