In this underexposed shot of the flower (See: picture), detail in the shadows has been lost and the highlights appear dull and heavy. The accompanying histogram shows a dominance of tones towards the left of the graph, and almost none in the zone where highlights should be.
A better exposed version of the same subject (See: picture). The contrast between light and dark is still strong, hence the sharp peaks on the histogram, but the falling curve at either end of the graph shows that both highlights and shadows have been preserved.
USE OF POLARIZING FILTER
This shot of an old barometer in a glass case (See: picture) isn’t terrible, but the reflections of the harbour in the glass are too weak to be anything more than a distraction.
In this shot (See: picture) I’ve used a polarizing filter to cut the reflections, bringing out the ornate lettering on the barometer in all its glory.
BETTER USE OF FLASH
Harsh on-camera flash spoils this shot of classical musicians in Kerala (See: picture). Note the glare reflecting back from the skin of the foreground subject, and the deep shadow his body casts on the wall.
This shot (See: picture) uses flash too, but it’s much more subtle, throwing just a small amount of light onto the drummer in the foreground. This effect comes from reducing the output of the flash unit and bouncing the light forward with a white card that’s taped to the flash head.
David Stott is a writer and photographer based in Australia