Repeat after me: Bright pixels are…

….sharp pixels!

When your subject is brighter than the background,

  • it stands out more.
  • it has more detail,
  • and above all, it has less noise.

Noise, like cockroaches and bedbugs, hides in the darkness.

I could give you engineering, math, signal-to-noise-ratios, and so on (yes, I am an engineer), but just take it from me.

And often, making your subject brighter is easy to do.

Here is a glass on a table, as you can see.

Glass, lit by general light

Now again, but this time with a TTL flash from out left, and no flash on the camera:

Glass, lit by side light

And as you see, the second one is more dramatic, the glass looks better.

Note that in the second image, I set ambient exposure to minus two stops. In other words, in manual mode, I adjusted ISO, aperture and shutter until the meter read -2. (Alternately I could have used program mode or aperture mode, and adjusted exposure compensation to -2 stops).

Why? Because I do not want the background to be totally dark.

My advice: try this yourself, right now. If it does not work, fiddle around until it does. Or ask me.

3 thoughts on “Repeat after me: Bright pixels are…

  1. Hi Michael,

    Your website is very informative. I am impressed with the information it contains. I have bookmarked it.

    I tend to use flash in various angles to bounce. If the ceiling is coloured or too high, I use the wall. If none of them is possible I would use bounce cards and multiple flashes to light any shadows that could form behind a subject, due to the main flash which would be diffused. I like to play with light.

    Which is the best way to avoid noise grain in low light black or dark BGs please.
    I came as close by using slow shutter speeds, but too low may effect detail.


    • Hi Simon,

      Well, there are many ways to improve them. High ISO – 800-1600 is OK nowadays. Fast lenses: a dark even should be shot at f/2.8 or even f/1.4-f/2. The final one is slow shutter speeds: one divided by the lens length. So perhaps a 35mm lens at 1/30th second or even 1/15th.

      Read some of the posts on this blog that mention “flash” and “events” for a start, and then we take it from yhtere!

  2. Pingback: How do you get the eyes extremely sharp in the photo? | Everyday I'm taking a photo

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