Exercise: Highlight Clipping (DPP)

For this exercise I have to find a scene with a wide range of brightness and shoot in manual mode. I must find the setting where the highlight clipping warning starts to appear and make a note of the setting. I then have to increase the exposure by 1 F stop using either aperture of shutter speed.

Then I must take 3 more shots decreasing the exposure each time by 1 F stop.

I have to process the images  without making any adjustments and then observe a magnified area of the highlights; making notes on:

  • Completely lost areas of visual information
  • A visible break in the form of an edge between nearly-white and total white
  • A colour cast along a fringe bordering the clipping white highlight
  • The colour saturation


F. 5.6 ISO 200 0.3/sec

At these settings the highlight clipping warning is now flashing on the white part of the wall between the guitar neck and black wall.


F.4.5 ISO 200 0.3/sec

Now at a higher exposure the highlight warning practically covers the whole of the white wall and a few characters on the black chalk wall. The colour saturation is off, the guitar demonstrates this well. The white wall has a large area of lost visual information.


F.7.1 ISO 200 0.3/sec

Image three shows no highlight clipping warnings. There is no loss of visual information in the highlight areas and no breaks between areas of nearly white and total white. The colours (mainly the guitar and calendar) become more saturated with each decrease in exposure.


F.9 ISO 200 0.3/sec

Image four is now starting to appear too dark and under exposed. The colours of the text on the chalk wall are becoming less visible.


F.11 ISO 200 0.3/sec

Image five is now far too dark compared to the original image (F.5.6) There’s not one part that is correctly exposed. I don’t think that it is so dark that it would be rendered useless, but compared to the first image it is severely under exposed.


I wonder if perhaps I would have got slightly different/stronger results had I used a scene with more variety. The shot is dominated by white, which may have hindered my results slightly. Had I used a smaller area of white, possibly repositioned in the shot (i.e not covering a large space) and not contrasted with black, but some other colours this exercise may have worked out differently.

However, it’s all about trial and error and I am aware of the importance of highlight clipping and it’s effects after finishing this exercise.

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