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Fundamentals of Photography

Lesson 33 of 107

Dynamic Range

John Greengo

Fundamentals of Photography

John Greengo

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Lesson Info

33. Dynamic Range


Class Trailer
1 Class Introduction 23:32 2 Photographic Characteristics 06:46 3 Camera Types 03:03 4 Viewing System 22:09 5 Lens System 24:38 6 Shutter System 12:56 7 Shutter Speed Basics 10:16 8 Shutter Speed Effects 31:57
9 Camera & Lens Stabilization 11:06 10 Quiz: Shutter Speeds 07:55 11 Camera Settings Overview 16:12 12 Drive Mode & Buffer 04:24 13 Camera Settings - Details 10:21 14 Sensor Size: Basics 18:26 15 Sensor Sizes: Compared 24:52 16 The Sensor - Pixels 22:49 17 Sensor Size - ISO 26:59 18 Focal Length 11:36 19 Angle of View 31:29 20 Practicing Angle of View 04:59 21 Quiz: Focal Length 08:15 22 Fisheye Lens 12:32 23 Tilt & Shift Lens 20:37 24 Subject Zone 13:16 25 Lens Speed 09:03 26 Aperture 08:25 27 Depth of Field (DOF) 21:46 28 Quiz: Apertures 08:22 29 Lens Quality 07:06 30 Light Meter Basics 09:04 31 Histogram 11:48 32 Quiz: Histogram 09:07 33 Dynamic Range 07:25 34 Exposure Modes 35:15 35 Sunny 16 Rule 04:31 36 Exposure Bracketing 08:08 37 Exposure Values 20:01 38 Quiz: Exposure 20:44 39 Focusing Basics 13:08 40 Auto Focus (AF) 24:39 41 Focus Points 17:18 42 Focus Tracking 19:26 43 Focusing Q&A 06:40 44 Manual Focus 07:14 45 Digital Focus Assistance 07:35 46 Shutter Speeds & Depth of Field (DOF) 05:18 47 Quiz: Depth of Field 15:54 48 DOF Preview & Focusing Screens 04:55 49 Lens Sharpness 11:08 50 Camera Movement 11:29 51 Advanced Techniques 15:15 52 Quiz: Hyperfocal Distance 07:14 53 Auto Focus Calibration 05:15 54 Focus Stacking 07:58 55 Quiz: Focus Problems 18:54 56 Camera Accessories 32:41 57 Lens Accessories 29:24 58 Lens Adaptors & Cleaning 13:14 59 Macro 13:02 60 Flash & Lighting 04:47 61 Tripods 14:13 62 Cases 06:07 63 Being a Photographer 11:29 64 Natural Light: Direct Sunlight 28:37 65 Natural Light: Indirect Sunlight 15:57 66 Natural Light: Mixed 04:20 67 Twilight: Sunrise & Sunset Light 22:21 68 Cloud & Color Pop: Sunrise & Sunset Light 06:40 69 Silhouette & Starburst: Sunrise & Sunset Light 07:28 70 Golden Hour: Sunrise & Sunset Light 07:52 71 Quiz: Lighting 05:02 72 Light Management 10:46 73 Flash Fundamentals 12:06 74 Speedlights 04:12 75 Built-In & Add-On Flash 10:47 76 Off-Camera Flash 25:48 77 Off-Camera Flash For Portraits 15:36 78 Advanced Flash Techniques 08:22 79 Editing Assessments & Goals 08:57 80 Editing Set-Up 06:59 81 Importing Images 03:59 82 Organizing Your Images 32:41 83 Culling Images 13:57 84 Categories of Development 30:59 85 Adjusting Exposure 08:03 86 Remove Distractions 04:02 87 Cropping Your Images 09:53 88 Composition Basics 26:36 89 Point of View 28:56 90 Angle of View 14:35 91 Subject Placement 23:22 92 Framing Your Shot 07:27 93 Foreground & Background & Scale 03:51 94 Rule of Odds 05:00 95 Bad Composition 07:31 96 Multi-Shot Techniques 19:08 97 Pixel Shift, Time Lapse, Selective Cloning & Noise Reduction 12:24 98 Human Vision vs The Camera 23:32 99 Visual Perception 10:43 100 Quiz: Visual Balance 14:05 101 Visual Drama 16:45 102 Elements of Design 09:24 103 Texture & Negative Space 03:57 104 Black & White & Color 10:33 105 The Photographic Process 09:08 106 Working the Shot 25:29 107 What Makes a Great Photograph? 07:01

Lesson Info

Dynamic Range

Alright, we need to have a little talk here about dynamic range. And this is the range of brightness that you're camera can record from light to dark. And it's gonna range from pure black to pure white. And the questions is, is how many steps in between can you get between black and white. And we are once again forgetting about color just thinking about overall brightness here. So let me show you a range of photographs here that fit into something that I would call a high dynamic range. So, what is common about these photographs, just look at 'em for for a moment and think about what's common about all of these photographs. So, I will answer for you. Number one is they're all taken outside. I tend to photograph outside a lot, so that did that happens here. But they all include land and sky in some way or another. And so, the sky tends to be bright, the ground tends to be a little bit on the darker side. So when you have both of them in there, you're gonna get this wide range of brightn...

ess. So, let's just take one of those images here. This is entering Ngorongoro Crater, in case you're wondering. And this is a pretty wide dynamic range. We have a really bright sky and we have your typical ground which a little bit darker. Now we can take this into Photoshop or any sort of program and we can say, you know, it's got a really large range here maybe larger than we want it to have. Can we decrease it? Well, yes you can. You can take the contrast level and there's a contrast slider, you just slide it off to the side and you reduce the amount of contrast. Doesn't really help the image at all. Doesn't make it look any better at all. And so, in post production, reducing contrast rarely ever makes the photo better. It might be necessary for a reason here and there but for the most part, it's just not something somebody would do on a regular basis. It doesn't make it any better and so you have to either, you're gonna have to live with the contrast you have, but making it less really isn't an option. Alright, next up, let's look this series of photos here. Now, these fall into a low dynamic range. Now, one of the things you'll notice is we don't have sky land shots here anymore. We have a little bit more closeup shots that we don't have the sky or it's only the sky. And so we don't have as wide a range of tonalities and brightness from light to dark in this case. So let's take one of these images and we look at the histogram and that looks pretty good but were not fully extended on this. We can take this in and we can increase the contrast on this. And does increasing the contrast change the photo in a way that you like? Well, that's subjective but it does make those colors a little bit more vibrant. Makes that picture even seem a little bit sharper. So, we can take low contrast scenes and we can add contrast to them, make the brighters, brighter, and the darkers, darker. And that will often improve the photographs. And so photographers like low contrast situations because we can make it high contrast if we want. We just can't take it away later on. And so, that's why low contrast situations are easier to deal with than high contrast situations and we're trying to avoid those situations that are really contrasty like a really bright light and a dark area here, or shooting inside, outside to really bright sunlight. It's a very challenging situation 'cause our sensors in our cameras cannot handle it. Now the sensors in our cameras are constantly getting better. And there is a way of rating by testing them how much dynamic range they can handle. And right now, the king of the hill is the Nikon D850 at 14.8 stops of exposure value range. Closely followed by the Sony A7R III and then the Pentax K1. I pulled up some numbers from other popular cameras just to see what they have. And just as a reminder, for those of you who don't know, anything over 12 exposure value is generally considered to be excellent. But you always want more because if your camera can capture a wider range, that just means you can work in a wider range of conditions. Some interesting things, the most expensive camera on this right here is the one with the lowest rating. It's for a variety of reasons, it's different thing. The camera excels in different areas. Dynamic range is just one of those things, that over the last few years, has become increasingly important. Only because, I think, they've been able to test it a little bit more clearly than they have in the past. And so, it's good to have a camera with the best dynamic range but, as I say, anything over 12 is probably fine. And if your case, I'm wondering where I pulled these numbers from, a company called DxOMark does testing of cameras that will, boy if you go into like a photography party and you start talking about DxOMark, boy, that'll get the conversation going 'cause some people like, they don't trust them and they don't like their numbers and they're all biased. And oh no, they're using factual data and its just one of the places that do testing out there on a variety of cameras. And this was their landscape or dynamic range test and how much exposure range that a particular camera can handle. I don't have some brands listed up here 'cause they just don't test certain brands out there. So we've been talking about a lot of different things in exposure. This might be a good time to check in to see and make sure that we've got all our questions answered before we head in to the next big section. Great, so I have a couple people that are asking about this expose, is it better to expose to the left or expose to the right. Do you have an opinion on that? I usually like to expose the way you're supposed to expose. Whatever looks good (laughing) on the final image. There is a general philosophy that is not incorrect, that you should expose to the left, which for you guys is over here. (laughing) And so record a photograph a little bit brighter than darker. And that is only gonna work out if you have a very low dynamic range subject, where you could record it middle, lighter or darker. If you record it darker, we'll go the wrong way, you need to brighten it up later on. And that tends to be very hard. If you don't record very much light trying to make it brighter and I'm gonna show you a couple of examples when we get to the art of editing, what it looks like to shoot a dark photograph and just raise the brightness level, compared to actually shooting it at the correct brightness. Now, there is the theory that if you record it with even more light than you need, and reduce it later, you'll reduce the amount of noise. And the benefit to doing that, that I have seen, is not worth the effort and time it takes to slide the slider back down to make it darker. And so, in theory, its better and in practice, it probably is but it's not enough that it really changes the way I think most people should shoot. I think you should probably just shoot the way you are. But if you're gonna kind of hesitate, should I make it a little lighter or a little bit darker, I would say make it a little bit lighter than average just as so long, and this is very important, make it lighter, so long as you're not over exposing anything important. That's the important thing. And so there's kind of different criteria, usually number one, is don't over expose anything that's important.

Class Description

Short on time? This class is available HERE as a Fast Class, exclusively for Creator Pass subscribers.

As a photographer, you will need to master the technical basics of the camera and form an understanding of the kind of equipment you need. The Fundamentals of Digital Photography will also teach something even more important (and crucial for success) - how to bring your creative vision to fruition.

Taught by seasoned photographer John Greengo, the Fundamentals of Digital Photography places emphasis on quality visuals and experiential learning. In this course, you’ll learn:

  • How to bring together the elements of manual mode to create an evocative image: shutter speed, aperture, and image composition.
  • How to choose the right gear, and develop efficient workflow.
  • How to recognize and take advantage of beautiful natural light.

John will teach you to step back from your images and think critically about your motivations, process, and ultimate goals for your photography project. You’ll learn to analyze your vision and identify areas for growth. John will also explore the difference between the world seen by the human eye and the world seen by the camera sensor. By forming an awareness of the gap between the two, you will be able to use your equipment to its greatest potential.


a Creativelive Student

Love love all John Greengo classes! Wish to have had him decades ago with this info, but no internet then!! John is the greatest photography teacher I have seen out there, and I watch a lot of Creative Live classes and folks on YouTube too. John is so detailed and there are a ton of ah ha moments for me and I know lots of others. I think I own 4 John Greengo classes so far and want to add this one and Travel Photography!! I just drop everything to watch John on Creative Live. I wish sometime soon he would teach a Lightroom class and his knowledge on photography post editing.!!! That would probably take a LOT OF TIME but I know John would explain it soooooo good, like he does all his Photography classes!! Thank you Creative Live for having such a wonderful instructor with John Greengo!! Make more classes John, for just love them and soak it up! There is soooo much to learn and sometimes just so overwhelming. Is there anyway you might do a Motivation class!!?? Like do this button for this day, and try this technique for a week, or post this subject for this week, etc. Motivation and inspiration, and playing around with what you teach, needed so much and would be so fun.!! Just saying??? Awaiting gadgets class now, while waiting for lunch break to be over. All the filters and gadgets, oh my. Thank you thank you for all you teach John, You are truly a wonderful wonderful instructor and I would highly recommend folks listening and buying your classes.


I don't think that adjectives like beautiful, fantastic or excellent can describe the course and classes with John Greengo well enough. I've just bought my first camera and I am a total amateur but I fell in love with photography while watching the classes with John. It is fun, clear, understandable, entertaining, informative and and and. He is not only a fabulous photographer but a great teacher as well. Easy to follow, clear explanations and fantastic visuals. The only disadvantage I can list here that he is sooooo good that keeps me from going out to shoot as I am just glued to the screen. :-) Don't miss it and well worth the money invested! Thank you John!


Dear John, thanks for this outstanding classes. You are not only a great photographer and instructor, but your classes are pleasant, they are not boring, with a good sense of humor, they go straight to the point and have a good time listening to you. Please, keep teaching what you like most, and I will continue to look for your classes. And thanks for using a plain English, that it's important for people who has another language as native language. Thanks again, Juan