Playing some more... question about blown spots

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TracyF's picture
Joined: 08/14/06
Posts: 2416
Playing some more... question about blown spots

I would really like to know when it's "OK" to have blown spots on an image.

Today I was playing around a little with some black fabric I bought, taking some photos of a teacup my grandmother had given me. Just trying to learn more, not because it's a spectular photo -- though I am awfully fond of this teacup! Anyway, the problem is, I really cannot get a nice-looking image without blown spots. Is it OK to have blown spots, and if not, what can I do differently to prevent this? Exposure was set to Center Weighted Average, and the photo was just taken by a window.

Here's my edited image with a small blown area (because otherwise it looked too dark overall):

Here's the SOOC image (settings Manual, SS 1/30, f4.5, ISO 200):

And here's another SOOC image with blown spots (settings Manual, SS 1/20, f4.0, ISO 200):

I can see that the teacup probably was not placed very well with respect to the light source (the window)... would that make a difference to the blown spots?

Sorry lots of questions, I'm just trying to figure things out!

TracyF's picture
Joined: 08/14/06
Posts: 2416

Perhaps this question has been talked to death here? I did a little reading elsewhere and I think my take-home message was that it's OK to have some small blown bits as long as:


  • they are not details that you want to retain, like detail on a white shirt;
  • they are perhaps "spectral highlights", i.e. highlights that essentially reflects a light source the way a mirror would (which I think maybe my teacup falls into);
  • you are not wanting a high-quality print, as completely blown (255, 255, 255) bits will result in no ink being placed on that part of the print and will not look very good.
  • Seems like shooting RAW with a DSLR allows you the opportunity in PhotoShop to meld different exposures to deal with potentially blown spots, which is pretty great! Someday...

    If anyone has other thoughts, I'd love to hear them, but otherwise I guess those are the things I'll try to keep in mind when I'm worrying about blown bits.

    (I also realized I goofed... forgot that shooting in manual overrode the AEB settings, so please excuse my ignorance in the first post.)

    AmberBella's picture
    Joined: 02/15/07
    Posts: 1831

    Actually, in this shot I think that the blown spots are not okay. They distract from the beauty of the cup. This type of shot should have very even lighting.

    Joined: 10/26/01
    Posts: 3467

    Of these 3, the best is your edited version in #1. I would try again, as Amber said, the details are important here. I think you'll be much happier without the blown spots.

    If you can, bump up your shutter speed. You might have to increase the iso to get a properly exposed shot, but bumping up the shutter speed should help w/ the blown spots.

    Keep at it! You're improving with every shot!


    TracyF's picture
    Joined: 08/14/06
    Posts: 2416

    OK fair enough, the teacup is beautiful and it's true you don't want to lose detail to blown portions. Soooooooo, thanks to your encouragement to try again, GiGi, here is attempt #2. This time I moved the cups several feet back from the window so there wouldn't be any hot spots in my lighting, and more even, as you suggested, Amber. I tried both ISO 200 and ISO 400 and at first I thought ISO 400 was too dull, but a little PP made it work. (Though my P&S is so awful for noise, I rain it through some noise reduction software first! That's why I rarely use anything over ISO 200.) SS was still pretty low because I had moved further back from the light source.

    Here's the revised version, settings SS 1/40, f4.5, ISO 400:

    Is that better? Comments? Suggestions?

    I did one more of all the teacups my grandmothers had given me, while I was at it:

    P.S. HOW do I modify the thread title to show that more images have been added?!

    Joined: 04/23/06
    Posts: 485

    I think you improved between shoot #1 and #2! I am no expert on blown spots, but I think playing around with all the components will always increase your knowledge about how you can change each setting to achieve a different result. Great job!

    Joined: 05/10/07
    Posts: 427

    your second attempt is much better Smile

    TracyF's picture
    Joined: 08/14/06
    Posts: 2416

    Great, thanks, I'm glad I tried again. So much to learn...

    cazzoom's picture
    Joined: 06/22/02
    Posts: 1315

    Way to go on attempt #2

    I have a pretty little tea set my grandmother left me. You have inspired me to take photos of it..... when I have time.