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Monday, 12 May 2014


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Be interesting if you get many. In the digital age, people may delete them so they never get seen.

Hmmm, does this count as "blown?" (Or does it matter, since it has CATS?)



If you'll take blocked highlights, then how about Ansel Adam's portrait of Martha Porter, Pioneer Woman, from page 70, of Examples, the Making of 40 Photographs. I wouldn't say that it takes up a large portion of the photo at all, so, probably not what you are looking for...

I'm not sure if these are the sort of thing you mean? The first is in the park across from my apartment - an autumn evening here in Sydney with the Oly 75mm 1.8 - I personally like the funky flare. The other is a field of lupins near Lake Tekapo, in the South island of New Zealand. I think they both work despite the extreme flare / highlights.

like this one....




Seeing as I shoot on seamless white with some frequency, yeah, I have plenty of images with large blown highlights...but somehow I don't think that's what you're looking for.

But on the off chance:


And here's a big blown highlight that seriously considered crossing the median and squashing me flat:


I like to play with blown highlights now and then. I need to rotate back to some portraiture and exercise some highlights and narrow apertures.




Most of the winter almost all of my shots end up with blown out highlights. Snow, y'know? I even have a story about that involving the famous Moose Peterson!

If appropriate, I might point out this shot: https://flic.kr/p/8KvtGj

That pic is from a time where I shot everything in B&W film (I read about that challenge on a blog somewhere - whose excellent idea was that?).

The most beautiful one I know of is the cover of Sonja Bullaty's book: "SUDEK."

I think you mean to ask, "Have you ever taken one you liked?".

I've taken hundreds of photos with blown highlights... usually unintentionally. In some cases, that might work out. I like this one, mainly because the reflections I think...


it's a halo repeat thing. Not Taught In Schools. So just enjoy!





I've been doing a weird thing with animal portraits using blown highlights to emulate a style of negative space that's closer to line drawing. I bring them back down to grey to make it work a little better, but basically all the background (and much of the subject) is blown highlights.

The most successful one to me is the snow monkeys. Their fur gets a really nice brush-stroke texture.

I'm not sure if this is what you're looking for, but I think it just might be. :)


For the last 7 years or so, I've been documenting a small group that puts on electronic music parties. So there's often blown highlights because of the light shows they set up. Here's a couple of photos that come to mind, which have some flare as well:



Hi Mike, see if like this recent one I shot:


Flare photo -

Diane Arbus, "Lady in Rooming House"


Blow-outs + Flare = White Sands, NM

I have plenty of photos w/blown highlights (it often doesn't bother me) but remembered this one, taken with my Sony F717 (easy to blow highlights back then).

Would this count as sufficiently blown and flared highlights? Hopefully in a pleasing manner...


Shot in St.Paulus Dom (St Paul's Cathedral) in Munster, Germany on a weekend excursion during a business trip.

Mike, here's one with nice circular flare in this review of Leica's 19mm Elmarit : http://www.dearsusan.net/2014/03/12/leica-elmarit-r-19-sony-a7r/

Maybe like this? Cell phone cameras are great for this effect. :-)



Robert Frank's juke boxes


Dog day afternoon* at West Philippines Sea off Morong, Bataan.

Click here for larger image.

*This was taken in February when it wasn't humid, but scorchingly hot just the same.

Ray Metzker's 'Landsapes' are my favourite examples of how effective blown highlights can be.

I think blowing to paper white is more effective in Black and White. In colour, one channel/layer usually blows out before the others, leading to some sickly hues in the transition region around the edge of the blown area.

I do like high-key renditions of low-key scenes. Gives a lovely fey sense of something not being quite right.


I took this one at Monterey a few years ago. I was shooting in manual and followed my daughter and her friend as they ran past me and towards the sun.



Hi Mike,

I am not a very active commenter, but I do like to make use of blown highlights and flare quite a bit. So here is a picture I took very recently that fills the brief (I am lazy, finding recent pictures is easier).




Dear Mike!

I often tend to use natural light from behind my portrait subject. Works sometimes quite nicely - here is an example of a portrait I like a lot:


Best regards,

This is a photo I recently processed although I took it in December, 2012. The blown-out area bothers me some, but I still like the shot.
Man and staircase at Embarcadero Center, San Francisco.

Hi Mike, none of my own, but I like this photo made by Dutch photographer Thomas Schlijper earlier this week in Israel.


The man and his dog are perfectly exposed, which leaves the background with a lot of blown out highlights. This happens quite often with his street portraits.

This guy posts several photos of everyday street life on his site every day - mostly of his home town Amsterdam but he is also in Tel Aviv quite often.

Actually it is the blown high light that gives the picture the charm.
Why blow it away?
Who is worried of the technical details of the picture as long as there is "the picture"



Continuing the animal theme... http://photo.net/photodb/photo?photo_id=17519780&size=lg

The are-bure-bokeh school of Japanese photography with practitioners such as Daido Moriyama and Takuma Nakahira made an art form out of b/w high contrast grainy slightly out of focus photos with large areas of blown highlights to create the emotion of edgy excitement in their work. At the other end of the spectrum Uta Barth creates subtlety delicate colour images again using out of focus coupled with large areas of blown highlights. Very different experiences using somewhat similar techniques.

Photographers like Jacob Aue Sobol and to a lesser extent JH Engstrom use powerful flash at close range to blow out highlights to create high contrast images with powerful edgy emotion.

In the style of the are-bure-boke group here are a couple of shots I took recently:

https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/14172761635/lightbox/
https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/13985802361/lightbox/
https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/12162909805/lightbox/
https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/12980322495/lightbox/

I occasionally find it appealing:


Robin Wong blows highlights all the time, thanks to the cruel Malaysian sun. His latest post.

Mike, take a look at the sixth one in this group, Walking On Water. http://www.yurtwoodpress.com/new-work/
This was a happy accident. Just starting to shoot with a Ricoh GRD, flipped it on in a hurry to get this shot. Didn't realize the ISO was set to something inappropriately high for the bright sunny day until later. At first upset with myself for blowing it (pun intended), now I really like it.

I tend not to do this, but here are two I found that are not bad.

https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/9999712764/in/photostream


https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/9999839173/in/photostream/

Deep South was shot using collodion wetppates, sensitive only to UV and the bluer part of the spectrum, making it very difficult to record the sky other than white.
This is one area where analog photography is way better than digital. Things blow out smoothly and beautifully. It is usually harsh and ugly in digital capture.

I don't believe it is possible to add an image to this comment box from an iPad so I will send you one in a separate email

I assume you don't mean something like this? (grin)

(My first ever digital camera, in 2005, was prone to such eccentricities - especially when compounded by operator stupidity. I sometimes miss those cheerfully awful results, to be honest!)

This is a photo by someone I follow on Flickr. I'm sure there was some kind of detail in the window, but I think the choice to let it blow out really suits the mood.


In my film B&W film photography, I think 90 percent of the prints had big visually important areas that were paper white and the rest had the light source in the picture. That's a big part of the filed out negative carrier esthetic, where the blank white background and black border give you all that negative space to work with. It worked in color in say a magazine or album cover, but c-prints had such an ugly white and would yellow in a week or so if you went high key with them. The other common thing was to put the light source in the photo. Richard Avedon is a pretty good example of 50 percent white space in a lot of photos , at least in almost all of his portraits. Gene Smith always had a bit of paper white in his low key photos.

Digital color is so much more problematic in the way the individual color channels clip. When digital clips, you get a white highlight with 2 or 3 different colored halos surrounding it.

iPhone only for most of today, so no personal examples..

I generally try to control blowouts, but I have this:



I shot this one of my daughter way back in 2005, intentionally blowing it way the heck out. https://www.flickr.com/photos/joeholmes/13991559127

I got into photography at the dawn of the digital age. At that time all the forums and most of the instructional material warned against "blown out highlights". Years later, when I finally discovered the usefulness of pure white tones in photographs, I was inspired to write this piece about blown highlights: http://www.photos4u2c.net/2009/12/25/a-christmas-gift/ Keep in mind it was written a couple days before Christmas and I was pretty high on my new discovery.

If you have an image which is a bit too large, you can provide exact size specifications in the img tag:

< img src="url/image.jpg" height="600" width="420" >

Of course, if the image is a whole lot bigger than the display size, then you are using up your website bandwidth for pixels people won't see, but if it's only a small amount, it might be easier to auto-size than to actually alter the image.

@Timprov: That's lovely! You mind if I steal your technique to experiment with myself?

Self portrait:

More here: http://www.tomasrotger.com/

I intentionally flared the highlight in this one to give that feeling of blinding sun on a frigidly cold day.

Frozen barn

This may not be what you are looking for, but it sort of is. It's a nude, though you can't really tell that. It was shot on Polaroid film with a Speed Graphic with a $3 drugstore magnifying glass taped to the front for a lens. I put that setup together as a result of an argument I had with a friend that went something like this:

Friend: "Holgas are so wonderful and unique. There's nothing like them."

Me: "Not really. You can take crappy photos with any crappy camera."

Friend: "Oh no. Only a Holga can give you photos like that."

Me: "Really, there are lots of bad cameras. I had to work with a Diana F when I was in photo school and it's as bad as a Holga. Heck, you could tape a magnifying glass to the front of a camera and take "Holga" photos."

Friend: "Oh no! That's not even possible."

I called the resulting setup my "Speed Holga."


I like this one as it gives me the feeling of needing to squint:

GGP, Ocean Beach Rolleiflex2-8C Xenotar APX25 HC-110dilH 11-2006 VS 9000 02

Golden Gate Park, San Francisco, Rolleiflex 2.8C Xenotar, Agfa APX25, developed in HC-110, scanned with a Nikon 9000.

I love blown highlight flare from natural light windows:


Ben in the green room, Rolleiflex 622 Ilford XP2

More flare/blown highlight from the window:

Albany, Rolleiflex 2-8EPlanar Acros Xtol stock 09-2006 02

Ben in the kitchen, Albany, California, Rolleiflex 2.8E Planar, Fuji Acros in Xtol

I didn't do this on purpose, but I didn't try very hard to prevent it either, and I ended up liking the result...

This photowas lit from below through clear acrylic.

Here is a strange one - the (very cheesy) light show at the Natural Bridge in Virginia:
James Hengst Photography: Night &emdash; Natural Bridge 2011

And a shot that breaks the "no backs" rule:
James Hengst Photography: Night &emdash; Devo 2011

Okay, now I get how to post inline:

Digital photographer problems

This is a great reason to never delete in-camera. While using an auto exposure mode, sometimes the camera misses, but I like this photo anyway. Of course as the father of these two adorable little girls, I may be a little biased.

Texas Capitol grounds. Tri-X + Holga:

ACL Music Festival '07 - Ghostland Observatory. Plus-X + Canonet

ha, hey guys,

i was wondering that my b/w shot
lights ...
was linked from this page ...

thanks for sharing it in your nice community. hope you enjoy it.

cheers, dave

I just posted another photo with blown highlights on my blog today. Again, it's a nude, but you can hardly tell that. This one was shot with an old single-element soft focus lens on my Nikon D7000. Those old-style lenses do a wonderful job with highlights.


I took this photo of a De Haviland Mosquito almost 30 years ago at a Florida air museum, and I was disappointed with the underexposed undercarriage and the ground crewman massaging something underneath the Starboard engine as it was being started. Thankfully in this digital age I was able to lighten the image somewhat, but I blew some highlights in the clouds (and some lowlights on the ground) in the process.

Jersey City, NJ Newport Marina area.

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