Spring sojourn in Santa Fe: a brief exposure tutorial

Over the weekend, I took a break—in several ways. We took a family getaway to Santa Fe, New Mexico. I didn’t take a lot of photos, but I captured some diverse subjects and had fun using my full range of equipment, including my oft neglected 50mm prime lens. Technically, I took a break from HDR and tone mapped exposures. I chose not to rely totally on my camera’s built-in exposure metering or post-processing exposure blending techniques. I tried instead the aim off and re-frame technique to capture the ideal exposure. This is a basic professional technique that works like this:

1. Determine your key tone. A tone that’s not too dark or too light. It may be off-center or even out of frame. Half-depress your shutter to capture the exposure setting. On my Canon 50D, I press the AE (auto exposure) Lock button to “freeze” the exposure setting. Check your owner’s manual for specifics on how to lock the settings on your camera.

2. Re-frame the shot. I move the camera back to re-frame my subject, focus, then fully depress the shutter to take the shot.

For processing, Nik Silver Efex 2.0 was a natural fit with these very tonal compositions. I enjoyed experimenting with (simulated) film grain, flare and borders. I still have a lot to learn, but I’m pleased with the results. Let me know what you think. Share your perfect exposure method.

Corner of New Mexico History Museum with bronze kiva ladder sculpture.

Corner of New Mexico History Museum with bronze kiva ladder sculpture.

On the Historic Plaza in Santa Fe Next, the newly opened New Mexico History Museumfeatures permanent and temporary exhibitions that span the early history of indigenous people, Spanish colonization, the Mexican Period, and travel and commerce along the legendary Santa Fe Trail.

"Santa Fe Current" by Colette Hosmer, Santa Fe, NM

“Santa Fe Current” by Colette Hosmer, Santa Fe, NM

Santa Fe Current” is comprised of patterned Rio Grande Cutthroat Trout to simulate flowing water. This site-specific composition by Santa Fe artist Colette Hosmer features twenty-seven carved granite fish that analogize Santa Fe as a stream—fluid, vital and forward moving. The portrayal of Rio Grande Cutthroat Trout, New Mexico’s state fish, in this artwork supports environmental responsibility as a major focus. In the wild, the Rio Grande Cutthroat is an indicator species of a perfectly balanced ecology, as they can only thrive in the cleanest waters.

Antique two-wheeled cart, Santa Fe, NM

Antique two-wheeled cart, Santa Fe, NM

Antique shops and art galleries abound along the Santa Fe Plaza, adjacent alleys and avenidas. Hope you enjoyed this brief tutorial break. Next stop, it’s back to Hong Kong for more photos from my Asian excursion. Stay tuned!

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9 Comments

  1. Jim Denham
    March 23, 2011

    Great work Chris. Until this post, I really could see no reason for the Ae lock, but now I see the use. well done!

    Reply
  2. Toad Hollow Photography
    March 23, 2011

    Wow Chris, I love today’s post. The images are just wonderful, with the last one with the antique cart being my hands-down favorite! Great stuff, looking forward to more from your Asian excursion!!
    Toad Hollow Photography recently posted..Victoria ArchitectureMy Profile

    Reply
  3. Mark Blundell
    March 23, 2011

    nice instructional post. Really like the cart – lovely image – well taken.
    Mark Blundell recently posted..Manor House B – We All Go A Little Mad SometimesMy Profile

    Reply
  4. Viveca Koh
    March 23, 2011

    That’s a good technique Chris, I used to use that a lot when I had a manual SLR with spot metering. I’m liking the look of those Nik filters – I normally shun post production filters as I prefer to do everything myself (because I’m a control freak about my work), but these are some that I have been considering, because I miss the look you get with a fast B&W film. The results look pretty good, you have some great shots here!
    Viveca Koh recently posted..Suitcases on shelves at West Park abandoned asylum by Viveca KohMy Profile

    Reply
  5. Chris Kenison
    March 24, 2011

    Wow, Chris! Great post. I abs. LOVE the last image of the cart! Well done!
    Chris Kenison recently posted..An Obsession- BridgesMy Profile

    Reply
  6. Nathan Schepker
    March 24, 2011

    Wow, great collection and post! Really like the cart as well – very rustic feel.
    Nathan Schepker recently posted..The Lunch Break Series 10My Profile

    Reply
  7. Viveca Koh
    April 5, 2011

    I can now confirm that Silver Efex Pro is a fantastic piece of software for black and white processing, and the results are WAY better than anything I could achieve manually in Photoshop – I shall never look back again 🙂

    Reply
  8. Chris Wray
    April 5, 2011

    Now that’s a ringing endorsement! I’m delighted you’ve added Silver Efex to your repertoire of processing technique. Have fun! 🙂

    Reply
  9. Brian Furbush
    April 13, 2011

    Great shots Chris! Love your processing choices here, and first shot is my fave!
    Brian Furbush recently posted..Simple EleganceMy Profile

    Reply

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