Digging in the Dark

Another mistake in setting camera exposure

There I was taking pictures of the sunset. It was not that gorgeous a view, but I didn’t want to miss it as I had been there on our iconic town bridge.

My camera was operating in P-mode. The exposures were fine for the barely clouded sky. So I wanted to boost the exposure to get a bit more detail in the buildings and landscape.

I pressed the exposure compensation button and spun the wheel. Of course in the wrong direction.

I pressed the shutter anyway then over-corrected in the other direction. Here are the thumbnails.

Yes, that frame looks pretty black. Here is what the EXIF data said (in part).

Exposure Compensation: -11/3. Minus eleven thirds; that’s just a click less than four stops underexposure. Even the sky is black.

Never shy about experimenting, I decided to see what I could dig out of that image. I applied correction to the whole frame – mostly because I could not see the horizon for applying a mask. I boosted the overall exposure – the brightness slider in my photo editor. Then most of my efforts were in boosting the dark tones and the mid tones.

Even at ISO 100 I expected a lot of noise there when amplified up to the higher brightness so you could see detail. And indeed there was. I used Topaz DeNoise AI to subdue that unwanted pointillism effect. It does a fine job. In fact it does an outstanding job!

You can see in the illustration here that I used the “Low Light” setting. I accepted the defaults.

The results were surprisingly good. For an image that was dug out of total darkness, this is rather acceptable, don’t you think?

Sunset in Peachtree Corners, GA

So the moral to this story is this: Don’t throw away badly underexposed photos. There is a good chance that a useful image can be extracted.

.:. © 2021 Ludwig Keck

About Ludwig

Lending a helping hand where I can. . . My motto: If it is worth doing, it is worth doing well.
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9 Responses to Digging in the Dark

  1. margaret21 says:

    Well, that’s certainly an interesting result, but the headaches in between tell me why I generally stick to automatic!

    • Ludwig says:

      Thanks, Margaret. Nothing wrong with auto. Often we want a different outcome, however. I don’t often get into trouble, but when I do it’s often a doozy.

  2. John says:

    You don’t update your site much do ya… Lots of information though. 👍🏻

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