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Thread: Questions about manual exposure

  1. #1
    Marie Hass's Avatar
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    Questions about manual exposure

    I am finishing up a manual exposure course, and this second half is to present a picture with a clear subject that shows a grasp of technique in different ways.

    In my first image, I attempted to expose for whites, without over-exposing. I also had a 4X magnifying lens on. Shutter speed 1/100, f8, ISO 800, Focal length 42.0. It was cloudy outside.

    Questions about manual exposure

    In this completely different second image, I had sunny evening light. I panned a bit as the tractor was moving. The objective for me was to not to blow the skin tones, while making use of the lovely backlight. I did very little to this picture other than sharpen. It could probably use levels or curves adjustments. Shutter speed 1/125, f8, ISO 200, Focal length 70mm.


    Questions about manual exposure

    Please C&C on these. If these don't work, please let me know. In the meantime, I will re-read the syllabus and continue to shoot in manual. Thanks, as always, for looking and commenting. The people here make this forum and your contributions are a very valuable learning tool for me.

    Taking into consideration comments, I revised this picture a bit. I still think I may add more contrast.
    Questions about manual exposure
    Last edited by Marie Hass; 5th June 2011 at 11:15 PM. Reason: added a revised picture

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    Re: Questions about manual exposure

    Whites are still blown out a bit - not terribly so, but you might want to consider stopping down one more stop or doing an EV compensation to cut down on that extra bit of light.

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    Marie Hass's Avatar
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    Re: Questions about manual exposure

    Thanks, Chris. I will probably go back and decrease exposure in PS. I wanted to present the images without much pp so people (like you) could get a clear sense of what I was doing.

  4. #4
    rob marshall

    Re: Questions about manual exposure

    I'm not too sure about this - perhaps Colin or someone else could say. But I would think metering for the sky (which is blown) then using that setting, but with some fill-flash would have produced a much better result. It's a pity, because it's a very nice family/group scene, which I like very much. You can see the problem on the faces of the guy and the left-side girl - their face have too much shadow.

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    Marie Hass's Avatar
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    Re: Questions about manual exposure

    Hi Rob. Thanks for commenting!

    In this course, we specifically were to meter for the subject, not the background. Unfortunately, each person in the haying crew presents a different exposure question. I chose the middle person. Thanks for noting the issue with shadows - I can dodge the shadows in the adults' faces in pp. Yes, use of fill flash would have helped as a general rule, but not for this coursework.

    Thanks again. I will take those issues into account when I am out today.

    Marie

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    Re: Questions about manual exposure

    What I usually do in this situation, Marie, is to spot meter around the scene and find the brightest spot. Or the brightest area which I want to keep. Sometimes you need to allow some parts of a scene to over expose.

    Then it is simple to just vary that amount slightly, if necessary.

    But this does require a static scene and sufficient time to manually find the bright spots.

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    Marie Hass's Avatar
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    Re: Questions about manual exposure

    Geoff, thank you. If there is one thing I am learning, it is how difficult it is to get my candid shots right. - except for Wille - he can probably fire off 5 and have all of them be keepers!

    Obviously there is something missing in my preparation. Do you think I should have sat a grey card in the road first? I also have a white 3 fold presentation board I could have used for metering? I did go out and take some shots to adjust shutter, f stop and ISO so I could get pictures without too much fumbling when they came back with the final load.

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    Re: Questions about manual exposure

    For genuine informal (not pre posed) shots, I tend to assess the most likely settings beforehand. Something which to a greater or lesser extent comes with practice. Then my camera should, but not always, be ready for those quick look and click shots.

    I try to decide whether shutter speed or aperture will be the dominant requirement. Are the subjects moving or does the scene require a particularly deep or shallow depth of field.

    Then look for potential hot spots or deep shadows and set a suitable ISO.

    I prefer to just use the centre focusing point then hold and recompose as necessary. Multiple points are too easy to get wrong; at least for me.

    Auto White Balance usually works well. Setting a Custom Balance is always a good idea but with these quick shots it is too easy to get it wrong, and you only have one chance.

    Shooting Raw is obviously the best all round answer as it gives you a second chance on readjusting your settings.

    Fill Flash can be useful for 'dark faces' etc but this can sometimes cause as many problems as it cures if you aren't experienced in this technique.

    And, of course, a little selective tweak with an Adjustment Layer plus mask and a suitable brush can cure a lot of exposure variation problems.

    Finally, to put people at their easy while taking 'candid' photos, I find that saying something like 'I just need to set the exposure first' while actually taking the shot can often produce the desired effect.

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    Re: Questions about manual exposure

    Quote Originally Posted by Marie Hass View Post
    Geoff, thank you. If there is one thing I am learning, it is how difficult it is to get my candid shots right.
    Hi Marie,

    In essence, there are two issues here ...

    In terms of metering (manual or automatic exposure) you still need to tell the camera what parts of the scene are important - in this case you don't want evaluative / matrix because that's saying that everything is important. Personally, I'd spot meter the subjects - BUT - with spot metering you STILL need to apply exposure compensation; with the amount being directly proportional to how far the metered spot varies from a medium gray.

    The other issue is more straight forward though - just as Rob mentioned, with a scene like this, you have what's called "backlighting" - if you expose for the sky, the faces will be dark - all you can do is use a fill flash in that situation - or - shoot with the light source behind you.

    Having said all that, exposure isn't something you stress over; with a RAW capture there is a big safety margin. I'm not saying one shouldn't strive to get it right in-camera, but the bottom line is (a) it doesn't matter if you don't nail it every time and (b) there are many many many other areas of photography that also need attention - so one probably shouldn't ignore then whilst investing too much time on something like exposure when there's no technical advantage (and even technical disadvantages) is getting it perfect in-camera.

  10. #10
    Moderator Dave Humphries's Avatar
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    Re: Questions about manual exposure

    Quote Originally Posted by Marie Hass View Post
    I am finishing up a manual exposure course, and this second half is to present a picture with a clear subject that shows a grasp of technique in different ways.
    What a bizarrely explained (to me anyway) objective.

    Other than the EXIF potentially revealing whether an image was shot manually or semi-automatically exposed, to my mind, it'll either be right or wrong (exposure) and whether you got to the "1/100, f8, ISO 800" via manual or automatic exposure (with a touch of + or - EC) is difficult to demonstrate such a "grasp of manual exposure", the word "manual" is superfluous.

    To my mind (as others have replied), it is more about knowing what to do with the controls in response to the meter reading in order not to blow the highlights.

    An analogy would be to boil some water to make tea, you can use a conventional saucepan (or kettle) on a stove/cooker, or an electric kettle, but as long as it gets to the required temperature (boiling point), who cares!

    Forgive me if I have gotten 'the wrong end of the stick' and mis-understood your explanation of the assignment, I'm not criticising your words.

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    Marie Hass's Avatar
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    Re: Questions about manual exposure

    Dear Dave and others,

    I have cut and pasted verbatum my assignment.

    Your Assignment
    Go out and shoot some images using Manual exposure. Again, the subject is up to
    you.
    In this lesson we are looking for you to clearly identify the main subject of your and
    make a decision about how to expose it. Experiment with the direction of light. Try
    backlight if you can. Try a dark or bright scene or subject.
    Your goal is to carefully consider your main subject and key tones and expose them
    accordingly. Again, you are looking to capture well composed, sharp photos with
    good exposure right out of the camera.
    Feel free to use a tripod or handhold your camera
    I gave my interpretation of what I read. Perhaps I will go find a hole to crawl into now.

    Marie

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    jiro's Avatar
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    Willie or Jiro is fine by me.

    Re: Questions about manual exposure

    I think this is a good idea to start with in CiC - going back to basics. I'll try this out as soon as my right eye gets well soon (I got an eye infection) and shoot some backlighted scene and expose the shot manually. Then, I'll post the SOOC image so others can evaluate it and give comments. Thanks for the idea, Marie.

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    arith's Avatar
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    Re: Questions about manual exposure

    It doesn't look backlit to me If you have a telephoto lens; choose spot and meter 1+2/3 overexposed on the side of the chaps face.

    But you said it was moving; so meter for the sky to be overexposed +2 ev and use fill light and recovery. I don't think a flash is necessary but it might make them stand out from the background and you could get glare in the sunglasses.

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