Newbies to photography will be familiar with the Exposure Triangle, a relationship rule between three things a photographer controls to make an image: ISO, aperture, and shutter speed.
Controlling each of these and balancing them gives us creative decision making power over how resulting images will look.
What you’re told when you begin playing with a camera is usually, “get the correct exposure.” There are tutorials on the internet that tell you how to do this. Digital Photography School even throws in a free Beginner’s Guide booklet when you look up stuff on their site. A favorite site of mine, Lightstalking, has a few articles that tell you all about exposure.
Sometimes, I find that like my favorite vagabond Paul Gaugin, you can chuck the rules out the window and trust a more intuitive expression.
This happened to me during a shoot in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. The location was an old mansion, which has long since been demolished. Back then, in 2007, that old mansion had overgrown banana trees, chipped bare walls and creepers hanging from absent pieces of what had once been its ceilings.
When we started taking photos of the effervescent Kharunisia Jazmin, our beautiful model for the day, I didn’t like the clutter of the background. In addition, the tropical sun was already climbing higher and higher, making the extra silhouettes of broken-wall-banana-tree-vines-and-creepers a lot more annoying in the background.
It struck me then, what if I completely extracted the background from the shot? Was it possible that if I pushed the exposure triangle into deliberate overexposure of the images, that I might get the subject and obliterate the background by overwhelming the shot with light?
I got my answers.