Pa’i ki’i Imagery

June 16, 2009

A Challenge

Every June Hawaii celebrates the first ruler of the Hawaiian Kingdom, King Kamehameha I.  Friday afternoon is the Lei draping ceremony on the King’s statue in front of the State Judiciary Building – Aliiolani Hale in Honolulu.  The Royal Hawaiian Band provides music to start.  A Hula Halau dances in celebration accompanied by a local musical group.  While Hawaiian civic groups present 13 foot Leis for draping  over the statue with assistance from the local Honolulu Fire Department Ladder Company.  It’s usually a beautiful afternoon with good light for taking pictures of the ceremony.

There in lies the challenge.  First, in the strong afternoon light blown highlights are guaranteed to show in your photos given the bright white in the base of the statue plus the  golden robe and headdress on the King. Then the angle of the sun puts the Judicial building and the people standing in front of it in shadow.  So how do you expose to cover both extremes?  If you concentrate on just the statue it’s easier to expose for the brightness.  I like to add context to the picture and show more of the surroundings.  This means finding the sweet spot where both the brightest and darkest areas have enough data in them to allow you to adjust the image in post processing.  In this photo it means being able to reduce the brightness to bring out the texture in the base and lighten the shadows without noise becoming prominent and reducing detail.

A graduated filter attached to your lens helps you to balance the exposure before you record the image.   The latest version of Lightroom includes a Graduated filter which allows you to create the same effect.   I find it better than the adjustment brush.  The Adjustment Brush has a narrow range of effectiveness.  Too much adjustment on the white base turns it a pale gray instead of reducing the brightness.


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