Banda Neira, Spice Islands

This image of an alley near the fish markets in Banda Naira shows a classic dilemma. One one hand you want to expose as much as possible to maximise the shadow quality but, on the other hand, if the highlights are over exposed too much they will retain no detail. In my quest to keep shadow detail  in this dark alley the sunlit white band on the right wall has become clipped and no matter what I do there is no texture in that area. It looks fine here on the webpage but if I really needed to make a high-end print I would have to manually blend in some of the texture from the shadowed wall above.

The problem is most pronounced when using an achromat camera like the M-Monochrom which only records luminance values. If a highlight is clipped there is no way the software (Lightroom) can recover it because there is only one channel of data – greyscale or luminance value. For a camera that captures colour information such as the M or S, then it’s surprising what can be recovered from the highlights as long as at least one of the three colour channels contains some data.

In high contrast situations it is crucial to keep an eye on your histograms, making sure that you use the full tonal range but, at the same time, you don’t clip those highlights.