Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Photo FAVS Wednesday: Highlight Tone Priority - Perfect Exposure Every Time For The Wedding Shooter

Good Morning Everybody,

I've got to make this a quick post today because we've got lot's going on here at the studio with our album project.  Couple that with a large crowd of family showing up later this afternoon and I'd have to say that things are going to be pretty crazy, hectic and fun around here today.

'Nough said - let's get right to today's Photo FAV thing.

Highlight Tone Priority - Perfect Exposure Every Time For The Wedding Shooter

I mentioned last week in my first Photo FAV post that the topics could include cameras, lenses, lighting, gear settings, you name it - it is all fair game for the series.

Highlight Tone Priority2 I covered this over a year ago on my blog but I want to revisit it again today.  During my Digital WakeUp Call tour, I was amazed how many people didn't know about Highlight Tone Priority.  Here is the link to the earlier DPT Highlight Tone Priority article right here.  Give it a read and it will get you up to speed in no time.

This feature alone is what made me switch to the 40D a few years ago and also making it one of my favorite cameras in the Canon lineup up to that time. Nikon has a similar feature called Active D-Lighting. Here is a nice YouTube video right here giving you all the details on setting it up and all the Nikon functionality of the feature. 

I'm told Nikon's functionality works a bit differently than Canon's.  Check with your Nikon rep as to the details of those differences.  You can also find some discussion on Active D-Lighting over at Photo.Net right here.  You may want to read the comments too if you are a Nikon shooter.

One thing I like about the Canon HTP functionality is the fact that it works with the RAW files too.  Highlight Tone Priority basically adds a lot of latitude to the image when it comes to over-exposure – actually about one stop. This is particularly useful for a wedding photographer shooting brides in white dresses, often very shiny, reflective white dresses, at high noon or the late afternoon bright sun. I love the added protection this feature allowed me in my shooting routine.

In the old digital days before Highlight Tone Priority, we had to be exceedingly careful about not over exposing the bride's gown as she made her exit from the interior of the church into the full sunlight of the church steps.

My technique back then was to have my assistant open his jacket revealing his white dress shirt and then setting my exposure so that his white shirt was not overexposed. That way, when the bride made her appearance on the brightly lit church steps, I was assured that the gown would be perfectly exposed.

Highlight TP Comparison - Full Lenght But, what a hassle - and I was still nervous that I might inadvertently over expose the gown even with the precautions I was taking.  Highlight Tone Priority changed all that. 

I can remember the first time I tested it out on the brand new Canon 1D Mark III.  My Canon rep, Mary Mannix, was assisting me on a wedding and let be "borrow" the brand new 1D MK III.  The bride was to come out the front door of her home, into the shade of a tree in front of the house, and then would move directly into the bright afternoon sun as she approached the waiting limousine.

I had tested the feature in my Digital Master Class just a few days before and was "blown away" by how well it worked.  But, this Saturday was the first time I was going to try it on a REAL wedding.  What can I say, HTP worked like a charm, and a charm it truly is for the wedding shooter. 

We wedding guys and girls work under the most varied lighting conditions of any type of photographer out there.  We need to have the confidence in our gear that allows us to produce perfectly exposed images in the myriad lighting conditions in which we find ourselves. Highlight Tone Priority is a GIANT step in that direction for me which is why it's one of my top Photo FAVS.

Hey gang, that's it for me today.  We got appetizers to prep, dinner to cook, presents to wrap so I'm out of here.  See ya' tomorrow for some good ideas in how to still deliver the goods to your clients right down to the last minutes of the holiday rush.  See ya' then,  -David

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