Digital Photography: Shadow of Your Former Self

Okay, back to basics.

Remember how we discussed the magic formula of light?

Shutter speed x aperature x ISO setting = Your correctly exposed picture.

Here’s a little secret. If your camera sensor picks up too much light from the background of your picture, it can be “tricked” into underexposing the central or main character of the photograph.

You’ve seen the pictures taken of that special someone at sunset where you have the brilliant colors of the evening sky and nothing, or not enough of the person in the foreground to remember the picture by?

Why not use this to your advantage? Certain images can be made more powerful, not by focusing on the person, or the subject, but where it is in relation to its background, the action it is performing, or its shape.

Here’s a tip:

Without using your flash. Make sure the camera exposes for the background, not the main figure in the image for some interesting results.

This can be used in the broad daylight as well. Just make sure after the camera gives you its recommended settings, you “step down” or reduce the amount of light coming into the camera. Be aware: You will have to manually take control of your cameras settings to do this.

If you are in “P” or “Auto” mode on your camera and you reduce the light by using a smaller aperature (higher aperature number), your camera will correct the exposure by compensating with the ISO and shutter speed.

This is one time you do not want your camera to “compensate” or correct the “mistake” you are making.

Look at what the camera is recommending and intentionally reduce the amount of light.

If, on the “Auto” setting, you camera says, f/8, 1/100th, at an ISO setting of 400, try setting the manual to f/16 or f/22 with 1/100th at 400 to see what you get.

Still too much light? Reduce the settings on two of the variables instead. Try f/16 at 1/100th with an ISO setting of 200 or 100. Experimentation is the key.

Here are a couple of my favorites.

Have some fun on your own.

See you next time.


Digital Photography Basics, Posts with my pictures in them , , , ,


  1. That is an amazing tip. I love the pictures!!

    I’ll probably try it with my family.

  2. Can’t you just adjust the lighting with Adobe Photoshop?

    • Dewayne Chriswell

      Absolutely, Photoshop is an amazing program. However, with all of the time and money I’ve invested in Photoshop, and it is considerable, probably more than I’ve invested in cameras and equipment, the first thing you realize is, with Photoshop and all of its capabilities, you want to use the program to develop more creative ways to make your pictures better. Using software like that just for fixing your pictures, well, it seems like a waste. Photography is about taking the picture. When it becomes about fixing the picture, that’s like doing the dishes or the laundry for the fun of it. There are those people out there, I’m just not one of them. “What it comes down to, is would you rather spend more time outside behind the camera, or inside, behind the computer?”
      (That last line came from Rolando Gomez, the glamour photographer and from Scott Kelby’s Photoshop video training site as well.)

  3. Hi Dewayne,

    Love the reminder. The silhouetted image of the kissing couple is also very hypnotically mesmerizing and romantic.

    Playing with and experimenting with light and getting comfy with our own camera’s lighting and flash feature sounds like excellent photography advice.


    Happy Dating and Relationships,

    April Braswell
    Online Dating Profile Writing Tips

  4. Kevin Bettencourt

    Great advice on trying something new to become more savvy with your camera. Also love the pics, both draw out emotion.

    Las Vegas Air Conditioning Repair

  5. I just love what you are able to do with pictures. There is something special about black and white and seeing the silhouettes.

    Jennifer Battaglino
    IBS Treatment

  6. The pictures are very nice! Are they yours?
    I only have a small digital camera. is it possible to make those effects with a simple digital camera?

    • Dewayne Chriswell

      Yes you can. It’s all about controlling the amount of light into the camera. If you have a manual mode on your camera, even a point and shoot, then it’s too easy… The first picture was a happy accident. I took the picture and the camera sensor had set the exposure for the amount of light coming in behind the truck. I just added flash to make the headlights stand out more. The second picture was from a series I shot of a couple’s engagement photos. It was a lot of fun to work with them, too. Unless, I tell people otherwise. all of the pictures I use on this blog are my own. It only seems right to use your own pictures on your own photography blog…

  7. Gee Dewayne , I love it when you talk technical . Great pics .

  8. Great tips…you teach me something new everytime I read your blog..

    Chicago Style Sales Expert

  9. Clare Delaney

    Great tip Dewayne! As usual, something which I thought was complicated seem simpler now.

    Eco-Friendly Tips, Articles & Products

  10. Dewayne, I always saw those numbers on my camera and had no idea of what they did. Thanks for sharing.
    Scott Sylvan Bell
    Sales hype, are you full of it?
    Now go implement!

  11. The reversed out photos are spectacular.
    The picture of the couple is VERY cool.

  12. As with all great art forms, experimentation is the key. Great looking pictures, too!

    Best, Neil

  13. Rachel Robinson

    The examples look awesome! Amazing shots and a great tip to try!
    Leadership Is A Choice

  14. My mom loved to take pictures but often “goofed”…we say now that she would have loved the digital age and Photoshop….But I think you are correct, the fun she had taking the pictures would not have been the same as endless editing.
    Sonya Lenzo