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Photographer
J & X Photography
Posts: 3,767
Arlington, Virginia, US


I was at the bookstore a few days ago and saw a book about a Sports Illustrated photog and all the swimsuit models he's shot for their swimsuit edition magazines.

I saw a TON of blown out highlights...for you pros out there, why is this acceptable out there in the real world but when I read critique comments (mine and others) it's frowned upon here?
Nov 13 06 06:01 pm  Link  Quote 
Photographer
IrisSwope
Posts: 14,798
Dallas, Texas, US


My opinion?

Because they know what they're doing (in theory) and not asking for critiques, lol

If their goal is to make the girl look good, and they did that. Most the people looking at the magazine don't care about blown out highlights.
If the photo looks good, it looks good. Only photographers care about blown out highlights smile
Nov 13 06 06:06 pm  Link  Quote 
Photographer
Lucinda Wedge
Posts: 4,220
Littlerock, California, US


J n X Photography wrote:
I was at the bookstore a few days ago and saw a book about a Sports Illustrated photog and all the swimsuit models he's shot for their swimsuit edition magazines.

I saw a TON of blown out highlights...for you pros out there, why is this acceptable out there in the real world but when I read critique comments (mine and others) it's frowned upon here?

Because MM is by no means "the Real World".  And what she said above me too.  Hehehehe!  If it looks great, who cares if she's a little blown out.  Plus, a little blown out used to be the standard (and to some still is) of beautiful skin when shooting with film.

Nov 13 06 06:12 pm  Link  Quote 
Photographer
Paul Grupp
Posts: 4,096
Troy, New York, US


J n X Photography wrote:
I was at the bookstore a few days ago and saw a book about a Sports Illustrated photog and all the swimsuit models he's shot for their swimsuit edition magazines.

I saw a TON of blown out highlights...for you pros out there, why is this acceptable out there in the real world but when I read critique comments (mine and others) it's frowned upon here?

It's because camera buffs and amateurs tend to worry about stuff like blown highlights, and professionals worry about THE PICTURE.

Which is why amateurs are constantly looking at pro's work and saying, "I don't get it -- this stuff sucks!"

A more thoughtful answer is -- you gotta know when to break the rules.

Nov 13 06 06:15 pm  Link  Quote 
Photographer
MMDesign
Posts: 18,647
Louisville, Kentucky, US


There's also the possibility that the web-presses couldn't hold the dots.
Nov 13 06 06:17 pm  Link  Quote 
Photographer
David Linke
Posts: 488
Woodville, Ohio, US


A properly exposed specular highlight is also a blow out highlight, but done for purpose.
Nov 13 06 06:19 pm  Link  Quote 
Photographer
Jay Bowman
Posts: 6,511
Atlanta, Georgia, US


It might be his style.


Most photographers don't view other photographers work with the simple appreciation of the common person.  I'm convinced that for every photographer who thinks a particular things is an absolute no-no, there's another photographer out there who can use that no-no to get an effect people will like or pay for.

While we make complain and criticize, there's an editor and/or art director who said it was perfect and went with it.

For what it's worth...
Nov 13 06 06:32 pm  Link  Quote 
Photographer
James Graham
Posts: 741
Brooklyn, New York, US


What's a blown out highlight?

; )
Nov 13 06 06:37 pm  Link  Quote 
Photographer
D. Brian Nelson
Posts: 5,477
Rapid City, South Dakota, US


bang bang photo wrote:
...It's because camera buffs and amateurs tend to worry about stuff like blown highlights, and professionals worry about THE PICTURE.

Which is why amateurs are constantly looking at pro's work and saying, "I don't get it -- this stuff sucks!"

A more thoughtful answer is -- you gotta know when to break the rules.

Professionals worry about the paychecks. 

But your last line is exactly right.  I'd add the provision that you also have to know that you are in fact breaking the rules.  Too many folks claim after the fact that "I meant it to look like that."

"Rules are meant to be broken" still holds, but if you don't know you're breaking them...then you're just screwing up.

-Don

Nov 13 06 06:39 pm  Link  Quote 
Photographer
Meehan
Posts: 2,463
Merrimack, New Hampshire, US


I haven't seen these shots, but I'm going to guess the areas being blown out were the backgrounds and not on the models. But yes, I agree with the above statement that once you've mastered lighting, it perfectly fine to break the rules.
Nov 13 06 06:42 pm  Link  Quote 
Photographer
RAW-R IMAGE
Posts: 3,379
Los Angeles, California, US


Gotta love blown highlights, blocked up shadows, over saturated colors, over sharpened photographs, out of gamut colors--it's the digital age dummy!!
Nov 13 06 06:46 pm  Link  Quote 
Photographer
Los Imaging
Posts: 98
Spring Hill, Florida, US


James Graham wrote:
What's a blown out highlight?

; )

My thoughts exactly!

What it all really boils down to is that knowing all the technicalities of the craft is only a tool to achieve a certain look or feel in an image. They are "Tools, not Rules". Because this is about "Art" man! You can't put rules on creativity, or you'll choke the flow. A critique from another photographer, is simply a method by which he/she would have approached the image. As in composing music, if everyone followed the same rules (I despise music theory cops) then we'd never have progressive genres popping up, and the Beatles would still just be cars built by VW. If you feel your image needs more, or less highlights, then adjust out for it. It's your "Art" and highlight settings (like any other settings) are "Tools, not Rules"
That's why on my website's description page it says "This Site is Hosted & Maintained by:" No, wait thats not the right line.
  It says: "Bringing new and imaginative, imaging ideas to life, is the premise that drives the creativity behind Los Imaging. Casting aside the conventional guidelines, and theories, to embrace the unlimited possibilities in Photography.

So you have to ask yourself, am I an Artist? or a Technician?

Who cares about "Blown Highlights"? Obviously not the editor of Sports Illustrated.

And that's the view through my lens, Good Day!

Nov 13 06 07:20 pm  Link  Quote 
Photographer
Viper Studios
Posts: 1,196
Little Rock, Arkansas, US


I think the "pros know how to break the rules" line is a bunch of bullshit.  That is bantered about just about every time some fucked up photo makes print by some famous or semi-famous photographer.  People repeat it likes it's some sacred mantra.

I see fucked up crops, blown highlights, bad color cast, and terrible shadow play in a lot of images.

But the one thing they have in common is there is something about that particular image that happens to have some allure or draw.  Photo editors pick images primarily on that "first impact" view.  The let the "error" go, because the image is still strong.

Now,  recently there was a cover of a magazine, that I believe was Tom Cruise's old wife (sorry, cant' think of her name right now).  It was like 50 percent blown highlight all down one side of her face....that, that was choosing to do something intentionally.

I think there is a line between letting a minor imperfection go with the recognition that it is still not a perfect photo, and some gross application far and beyond the "norm" or the rules.

But I don't think every nit pick with a pro photo should be chalked up to "oh, he meant to do that".

Especially, in some cases where the "thing" detracts from the photo versus lending to it's appeal.

I worship my idols, but I don't think they are God. 

Mark
Nov 13 06 07:34 pm  Link  Quote 
Photographer
BlindMike
Posts: 9,594
San Francisco, California, US


Gunfitr wrote:
I think the "pros know how to break the rules" line is a bunch of bullshit.  That is bantered about just about every time some fucked up photo makes print by some famous or semi-famous photographer.  People repeat it likes it's some sacred mantra.

I see fucked up crops, blown highlights, bad color cast, and terrible shadow play in a lot of images.

But the one thing they have in common is there is something about that particular image that happens to have some allure or draw.  Photo editors pick images primarily on that "first impact" view.  The let the "error" go, because the image is still strong.

Now,  recently there was a cover of a magazine, that I believe was Tom Cruise's old wife (sorry, cant' think of her name right now).  It was like 50 percent blown highlight all down one side of her face....that, that was choosing to do something intentionally.

I think there is a line between letting a minor imperfection go with the recognition that it is still not a perfect photo, and some gross application far and beyond the "norm" or the rules.

But I don't think every nit pick with a pro photo should be chalked up to "oh, he meant to do that".

Especially, in some cases where the "thing" detracts from the photo versus lending to it's appeal.

I worship my idols, but I don't think they are God. 

Mark

So I guess a better answer would be because it doesn't matter.

Nov 13 06 07:49 pm  Link  Quote 
Photographer
J & X Photography
Posts: 3,767
Arlington, Virginia, US


Meehan wrote:
I haven't seen these shots, but I'm going to guess the areas being blown out were the backgrounds and not on the models. But yes, I agree with the above statement that once you've mastered lighting, it perfectly fine to break the rules.

Correct.  All blown out backgrounds...usually sky or water.

Nov 13 06 08:02 pm  Link  Quote 
Photographer
NYPHOTOGRAPHICS
Posts: 1,464
FRESH MEADOWS, New York, US


I blow highlights all the time, block the shadows, and at times I do both after the fact as well to make more dramatic imagery.  The image is more imporatnt than rules. 

Stephen Eastwood
http://www.PhotographersPortfolio.com
Nov 13 06 08:11 pm  Link  Quote 
Photographer
Viper Studios
Posts: 1,196
Little Rock, Arkansas, US


Right, and there is a difference between making a dramatic image and making a dramatic mistake.

If the image is good, there are no rules.

If the image is poor, the rules give a smuck some guidance as to where one might seek improvement.

Getting flipped upside down in an airplane in a storm, and doing aerobatics both cause an airplane to invert, but one is intentional and one is not.

Every airplane that ends up upside down isn't because the pilot meant for it to be so.

It isn't that I have anything against aerobatics, but I know a maneuver from a wind gust.

LOL

Mark
Nov 13 06 08:18 pm  Link  Quote 
Photographer
RBDesign
Posts: 2,728
North East, Maryland, US


NYPHOTOGRAPHICS wrote:
I blow highlights all the time, block the shadows, and at times I do both after the fact as well to make more dramatic imagery.  The image is more imporatnt than rules. 

Stephen Eastwood
http://www.PhotographersPortfolio.com

Your avi has a specular highlight where there is no detail. Maybe you should learn how te read a histogram ;-)

RB

Ps. Joke, what can you say?

Nov 13 06 08:21 pm  Link  Quote 
Photographer
former_mm_user
Posts: 5,521
New York, New York, US


James Graham wrote:
What's a blown out highlight?

; )

a bleached-blonde with a sore jaw?

Nov 13 06 08:24 pm  Link  Quote 
Photographer
Viper Studios
Posts: 1,196
Little Rock, Arkansas, US


Everybody just ignore Stephen.......he's one of those guys that is always right and has the shit to back it up.  Maybe if we ignore him he will go away and we can control the boards.......

Check out his shot with the gold leaf.

I guess nobody told him that to properly apply the gold leaf you are supposed to burnish it down to remove all the wrinkles.....

Man, some expert.....a real guilder would be rolling over right now.

Nice port and link man.

Mark
Nov 13 06 09:01 pm  Link  Quote 
Photographer
Michael Kirst
Posts: 3,231
Los Angeles, California, US


Cause in the real world it's what the client wants or will be happy with. And that's what pays.

In here, everyone (well, the majority anyway) just think they know everything but chances are, they're not the ones cashing checks every week.

There are no rules. That's why I am cashing checks every week. The sooner you realize this, the sooner you will not post 'why' and just post silly shit like the rest of us.
Nov 13 06 09:06 pm  Link  Quote 
Photographer
Mark Heaps
Posts: 786
Austin, Texas, US


yeah I think often the photog doesn't pick the shot as much as the client/editor does.  And if it's the first impact, message, design, impression, that they want to project...it doesn't necessarily mean their agenda follows our rules...and often their decisions from opinion/perception is what creates a trend we later have to decypher and follow.  C46 greens etc...was never meant to be a trend...
Nov 13 06 11:40 pm  Link  Quote 
Photographer
NYPHOTOGRAPHICS
Posts: 1,464
FRESH MEADOWS, New York, US


RBDesign wrote:
Maybe you should learn how te read a histogram ;-)

I dont use histograms, I have someone run around with one of those thingies that tells them about something that causes them to know how much light.... Luckily I ignore them and there thingies and do what I want.  I know my lighting skills suck, but I like sucky lighting.  and I found if you blow out all the detail in the skin you don't have to retouch so much, which is great cause that computer program scares me. smile

Stephen Eastwood
http://www.PhotographersPortfolio.com

Nov 14 06 01:00 am  Link  Quote 
Model
Alix Andrea
Posts: 3,035
Los Angeles, California, US


So a blown out highlight is when you blow out the background? Blow out how? Make it lighter?
Nov 14 06 01:02 am  Link  Quote 
Photographer
photosbydmp
Posts: 3,808
Shepparton-Mooroopna, Victoria, Australia


Christopher Bush wrote:
a bleached-blonde with a sore jaw?

ohh thats naughty, but i like it,lol

Nov 14 06 01:03 am  Link  Quote 
Photographer
Paul Grupp
Posts: 4,096
Troy, New York, US


Alix Andrea wrote:
So a blown out highlight is when you blow out the background? Blow out how? Make it lighter?

A blown out highlight is a light area of the picture that is so light that it is rendered as pure white with no color or detail. It happens because the range of brightness that a camera can capture is just a small fraction of the actual range of brightness found in nature. So sometimes, you end up with detail in shadow being rendered all black, and detail in highlights being rendered pure white.

Most photographers try to minimize this effect because it looks bad. A few photographers obsess about it, and develop a wide range of techniques to increase the brightness range of their photographs. And as the original poster noted, some photographers don't worry about it too much.

Regards,
Paul

Nov 14 06 05:13 am  Link  Quote 
Photographer
RBDesign
Posts: 2,728
North East, Maryland, US


NYPHOTOGRAPHICS wrote:

I dont use histograms, I have someone run around with one of those thingies that tells them about something that causes them to know how much light.... Luckily I ignore them and there thingies and do what I want.  I know my lighting skills suck, but I like sucky lighting.  and I found if you blow out all the detail in the skin you don't have to retouch so much, which is great cause that computer program scares me. smile

Stephen Eastwood
http://www.PhotographersPortfolio.com

LOL, since all of the white lettering has worn off my thingy so I can't read what the buttons do my exposures have gotten better. If this thingy stops spittin' out numbers on the frunt of it I may have to rub the letters off of a new thingy or I will get very confused.

RB

Nov 14 06 06:11 am  Link  Quote 
Photographer
Michael Kirst
Posts: 3,231
Los Angeles, California, US


Alix Andrea wrote:
So a blown out highlight is when you blow out the background? Blow out how? Make it lighter?

A 'blown out' portion of the picture can be anywhere, not just the background. I think you're thinking of the DOF or Depth Of Field where the background is simply out of focus. This is not considered 'blown out'. It is called Bokeh.

A 'blown out' portion of a picture is one that has no image. Overexposure can create this. A digital camera usually has what's called a histogram, where the photog can quickly check the image for any 'blown out' sections and adjust accordingly. If you have a blown out section you cannot bring it back when editing unless you fill in those missing pixels with part of the image from somewhere else. Technically it is considered better to be 'underexposed' rather then 'overexposed'. You can lighten what is there. You can never darken what is not.

Nov 14 06 03:50 pm  Link  Quote 
Photographer
RED Photographic
Posts: 1,458


MMDesign wrote:
There's also the possibility that the web-presses couldn't hold the dots.

Without seeing the actual photo's, this one gets my vote.

Nov 14 06 03:53 pm  Link  Quote 
Photographer
Halcyon 7174 NYC
Posts: 20,109
New York, New York, US


J n X Photography wrote:
I was at the bookstore a few days ago and saw a book about a Sports Illustrated photog and all the swimsuit models he's shot for their swimsuit edition magazines.

I saw a TON of blown out highlights...for you pros out there, why is this acceptable out there in the real world but when I read critique comments (mine and others) it's frowned upon here?

This is complicated, but I will attempt to explain.

If you are a beginner asking for a critique here on MM, I'm going to put your work in a zone of theoretical technical perfection and see what sticks outside the box. I'll then tell you where you're missing the mark and usually why and how as well. You go back and try again, return with new problems, and I analyze the new images for what is outside the zone. Eventually you will develop a level of mental control over the camera and your subjects. You'll know what works and what doesn't, and the pictures you were taking when you started will look amateurish to you fairly soon.

Once you start taking pictures that are in the zone (don't have any major flaws) on a regular basis, you have learned a level of control. Once you have control, you can start breaking out of the box and getting back to why you started taking pictures in the first place.

Think about, The Karate Kid, "Wax on. Wax off. Wax on. Wax off. Wax on. Wax off." You learn the moves, then you can innovate.

I know of no law against busy unbalanced compositions, no law against not having the subject's eyes in focus, and no law against blown highlights. However, to take interesting pictures with the confidence required to get what you want when you press the shutter release, knowing how to control compositions, focus, and exposure is very important.

When I give advice in the critique section, I proceed with the assumption that every photographer needs to get to a point where clicking the shutter release is the most boring thing imaginable, because before you touch it you will already know exactly what the picture is going to look like in the end. Planning the shot and looking at the print in the end are the real fun parts.

Execution of the concept in photography is like, if you're a chef and you are cooking a meal: coming up with the menu and recipes and then later tasting the finished product with a bunc of friends is fun. Doing the work in the kitchen is just work. You need to lear the photography equvalent of "chicken broth needs salt, but a tablespoon of rock salt poured into two cups of chicken broth is not going to royally suck and be ineddible, but a tablespoon of rock salt coating the outside of a baked potato will make it good." You need to know cause and effect in the process of photography for the same reasons you do in cooking. This explains both amateur snapshot photography and also the popularity of tv dinners.

Blowing out a highlight accidentally because you didn't know how to get the right exposure and blowing out a highlight intentionally to emphasise a model's musculature are two very different things.

Nov 14 06 05:59 pm  Link  Quote 
Photographer
Mark Ellison
Posts: 1,207
Brooklyn, New York, US


Ched wrote:
This explains both amateur snapshot photography and also the popularity of tv dinners.

How did you know I'm eating a TV dinner right now?

Nov 14 06 06:41 pm  Link  Quote 
Photographer
NYPHOTOGRAPHICS
Posts: 1,464
FRESH MEADOWS, New York, US


this is blown highlights, magazine loved it ran in several in fact, but it is still blown.  Would having it not blown have helped? maybe, maybe not, I wont know cause while I did have enough DR to bring back all the detail in the raw file, I never bothered to try as its not what I wanted to see.
http://www.stepheneastwood.com/stuff/vicky_anetta/IMAGES/1_vr2d7270glow.jpg

this is also blown highlights
http://www.stepheneastwood.com/stuff/mc2/jenny_jelena/IMAGES/1_vr2d8679flair.jpg
it was not blown at all in fact but the flair was added for the tastes of the client who wanted the lensflair.  I could have kept all the detail in a flair conversion but it would look flat and boring. 

I like a camera that can capture all the dynamic range there is, but I like a print that can limit it to whats important to focus attention on and that depends on my mood.

Stephen Eastwood
http://www.PhotographersPortfolio.com
Nov 14 06 06:44 pm  Link  Quote 
Photographer
Halcyon 7174 NYC
Posts: 20,109
New York, New York, US


Mark Ellison wrote:
How did you know I'm eating a TV dinner right now?

You have an online portfolio.









tongue

Nov 14 06 07:44 pm  Link  Quote 
Photographer
J O H N A L L A N
Posts: 9,734
Santa Ana, California, US


I think the person, that said that it's not usually the photographer choosing the specific image for publication, had it the closest - rather than pro photographers being SO advanced that they are now purposely breaking the rules (some of that sure).

John
Nov 14 06 08:07 pm  Link  Quote 
Photographer
Los Imaging
Posts: 98
Spring Hill, Florida, US


Ched wrote:

You have an online portfolio.









tongue

Ohhhh that was COLD Ched, very COLD!

Nov 30 06 04:59 pm  Link  Quote 
Photographer
Viper Studios
Posts: 1,196
Little Rock, Arkansas, US


Well, blown highlights, blocked shadows, oversaturation, or flat contrast can all be points of critique when they make the image look bad.  They can all be used as an intentional effect.

It's like brush strokes in painting.  Some schools abhor thick clumpy paint and brush strokes, but if you do it on purpose AND it looks cool, then it can be o.k.

If it distracts, takes away, or just seems like an error versus an intentional manipulation, then it gets critiqued.

Mark
Nov 30 06 05:05 pm  Link  Quote 
Photographer
darkfotoart
Posts: 982
Grand Rapids, Michigan, US


if it makes the picture ugly its wrong.     if it does not make the picture ugly its right.     if its technically wrong but you use it to make the picture look better than it would otherwise , your a pro.
Nov 30 06 05:30 pm  Link  Quote 
Photographer
Leonard Gee Photography
Posts: 16,039
Sacramento, California, US


Some here do complain about blown highlights - someone in a post did it as a put down about a portfolio. The attitude wasn't good.

The primary issue is the digital camera's dynamic range and the way the data's captured creates a "clipping" effect with the light outside of that range. There's a flat white or black with no detail.

If you've looked at an Adams or a Weston original print from film, you can see detail on detail in the whites and blacks. The highlights in film have an auto limiting effect when the developer acts on them. All the development activity there also creates waste products that inhibit the developer. So the huge activity developing the highlight also prevents it from developing too fast. So unless you have the sun or a intense light bulb in the frame, the highlights hold detail better with film. With digital, when the value on the 8 bit picture hits 256, that's it - all the highlight area turns the same blank white.

The opposite effect happens with the shadows in film. Because there's not much development activity in the unexposed parts, there's less waste product (bromide) and the developer has more action in the shadows bringing the detail out more. By carefully controlling the developing, you can take advantage of this to get terrific detail in highlights and shadows with film.

You can choose to place the highlights properly, if the contrast range is reasonable (or you control the contrast range with fill, gobos and silks). There are pictures where you want the drama of the burned out highlights and deep shadows, then it's not important. You have to take critiques with wide open eyes and 5/8 cup of salt.
Dec 01 06 01:18 am  Link  Quote 
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