Photography tips are something that I feature from time to time on this blog, but I don’t really make an effort to be consistent with. I’m not a professional, but there are a few things I do know a bit about having studied photography for a few years. What I’m going to talk about today is overexposed photos. With the rise of the clean, white background, more than ever people are upping the exposure of their photos in hope of reaching that ‘true white’. But what happens when you overexpose?
How do you tell if you’re overexposing your blog photos?
Here is an example of a photo ‘as is’:
As you can see, the background is grey instead of white and the other colours are dull and dark. When editing, I would always aim to increase the exposure to turn the background as close to white (its original colour) as possible. In this case though, here’s what happens to the image when I get the background to a true white:
In focusing on the background, I’ve lost a ton of detail from the image. The pink sheet of paper has disappeared entirely, and my bullet journal is barely visable in the top left corner. This is a prime example of overexposing, as important details have disappeared. I know people often strive for this as it gets rid of shadows too, but some shadow is necessary to make an image make sense to the viewer. If you are trying to get rid of shadow, you’ll need a few different light sources or a reflector to achieve this.
Another problem with this second image is the colouring. Whilst most of the colours have remained true to life, the wooden dish and the Ted Baker nail varnish have turned more yellow. This often happens when overexposing photos, and whilst a yellow tinge could possibly be corrected by adding more blue tones, it ends up a bit of a mess editing-wise.
How do you stop this happening?
Well, firstly you need to be realistic about your photos. If you’re aiming for fabulous bright, white flatlays, you need to get as close as possible to the real thing in-camera rather than trying to get there in editing. Get a good light source and use small, shallow items for minimal shadows. Then use your camera’s own settings to get an exposure which captures all the detail of your items.
After that, it’s just a case of making your images work for you. I know I’ve not got a true white background in most of my shots, but I’ve made peace with that as I know the rest of my image is still showing all the detail possible. Here’s the final edit as I would publish it:
The colours are true to life, all the detail is left in the photo and the background is lighter and brighter than it was originally. I could probably still increase the exposure a litle and retain most of the detail, but I’m happy with how this image has turned out.
Whilst I’ve mainly focused on flatlays in this post, the same tips can be applied to any photograph. My top tips for increasing the exposure on your photos are to be mindful of the colours and be wary of losing detail.
If you’d like to see more photography tips from me, let me know in the comments! Are you guilty of overexposing your photos? How do you ensure you don’t go overboard with editing?