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Thread: Dark images when using Aperture Priority

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    Dark images when using Aperture Priority

    Hi,

    Camera is a Nikon D5100 lens AF-S 55-300mm and 18-55mm
    I have tried using the Aperture setting to take shallow depth of field photographs of flowers, but my images are dark. Is this an ISO setting problem?

    Cheers

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    jiro's Avatar
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    Re: Dark images when using Aperture Priority

    Check whether you are using matrix, center-weighted, or spot metering on your camera. That will surely affect your exposure if not properly understood how it behaves in relation to your focus point. Upping the ISO will help you get a more stable shutter speed if you are using Aperture Priority. Can you post a sample image?

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    Re: Dark images when using Aperture Priority

    I cannot post an example as the battery is charging, how would the matrix, center-weighted or spot metering affect the exposure? I will read my manual as well. I have tried higher ISO but it did not seem to change the situation.

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    Re: Dark images when using Aperture Priority

    I suspect it might be something else completely; but is going to take a bit of guessing, based on how / what you shot.

    Aperture priority means are setting the appropriate aperture for the image, which means the camera will select the appropriate shutter speed to make the exposure at whatever ISO setting you have and the exposure would be correct. The light meter in your camera reads the reflected light from your subject and adjusts the shutter speed to what an average scene would required. If the flowers are all white or other bright colour, the exposure will come out quite dark, as pure white is nowhere near the average. This often happens in images taken in snow or on a white sand beach. If this is the case, you might have to use the exposure compensation button to increase your exposure. Using your histogram will help you judge how well this is working.

    I've also seen situations where the shot was taken in bright light, buy the photographer's eye was not in front of the viewfinder (shooting with a tripod, for instance), where the camera got the light reading wrong because of the light hitting the exposure measuring detectors that way and selecting a higher shutter speed than necessary.

    Another scenario, on a bright day, wide open aperture, high ISO setting means that the top-end shutter speed of your camera was exceeded and the image got underexposed.

    Seeing the image, your ISO setting, aperture setting and shutter speed might help someone diagnose the issue, if these scenarios did not cause the problem.

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    Re: Dark images when using Aperture Priority

    Manfred has pretty much got it all nailed down. Without seeing an image with the settings the only other thing I can think of to check.....would be to make sure you have not set a - exposure compensation.

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    Re: Dark images when using Aperture Priority

    The camera will try to make everything (and I mean everything) 18% gray when it comes to exposure. If you are shooting a flower and you have a brighter background the camera can be fooled to consider the lighter background as its priority in calculating the right exposure hence a darker image. Even at Matrix Metering setting the camera's "brain" can still be fooled. If you shoot a white flower and you aim the spot metering option of your camera to the white area of the flower you will get a dull, lifeless colored white flower. Another example of a dark image.

    A practical suggestion would be - if you aim at a white flower and you use spot metering, in aperture priority setting, access the exposure compensation button on your nikon camera and add a +1 exposure compensation. That means the camera will increase the "calculated" exposure by + 1 Exposure value to make the white "white".

    Another simpler procedure that I usually do is to use a spot meter reading of the palm of my hand then add a +1/3 to +2/3 EV to the one recommended by my camera's metering and take the shot. Just make sure that you are reading from the same location as your subject to have a usable metered reading. Hope this helps and good luck.

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    Re: Dark images when using Aperture Priority

    Quote Originally Posted by jeeperman View Post
    Manfred has pretty much got it all nailed down. Without seeing an image with the settings the only other thing I can think of to check.....would be to make sure you have not set a - exposure compensation.

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    Re: Dark images when using Aperture Priority

    I have attached flower
    Settings
    Aperture Priority
    I/125
    f/22 (Maximum value f/3.5)
    ISO 720

    Grasses

    Normal
    I/50
    f/22
    ISO 100


    Dark images when using Aperture Priority
    Dark images when using Aperture Priority

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    Re: Dark images when using Aperture Priority

    Hi BamBoo

    Looking at the Exif data of both photos you have an 'exposure bias' of -4.67 dialed in.

    Grahame

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    Re: Dark images when using Aperture Priority

    Quote Originally Posted by Stagecoach View Post
    Hi BamBoo

    Looking at the Exif data of both photos you have an 'exposure bias' of -4.67 dialed in.

    Grahame
    Yup, that seems to be the culprit alright.
    Last edited by jiro; 17th June 2012 at 05:36 AM.

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    Re: Dark images when using Aperture Priority

    I think I have solved my problem, this is a new camera and I guess I did not understand some of the features on Nikon D5100, also I assumed that the camera made shutter adjustments to the aperture settings I dialled in. On looking at the exposure indicator I could see that it was way out in right field and I could not get it back until I read about the +/- button.
    So out the garden and it worked.

    So than you everyone, but you know I will be back.

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    Re: Dark images when using Aperture Priority

    Glad you got it worked out. That big of a -exposure would certainly give you issues. Also try those shots at about F11 + or - a little, I think you will find plenty of DOF and be able to shoot a faster than needed shutter speed while useing a lower ISO.

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    Re: Dark images when using Aperture Priority

    Quote Originally Posted by BamBoo02 View Post
    Hi,

    I have tried using the Aperture setting to take shallow depth of field photographs of flowers,
    Unfortuneately you adjusted the aperture the wrong way for shallow depth of field.
    Remember 'small numbers' give large opening and shallow depth of field. 'Large numbers' give small opening and most DoF.
    You cannot see this error for the darkness of the result. Though when I raise it in editing there may be a lot of DoF but unfortunately also a lot of camera shake .... even if you support the camera with just a walking stick or something and gently press the trigger you should get better than this.
    Last edited by jcuknz; 18th June 2012 at 11:18 AM.

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    Re: Dark images when using Aperture Priority

    Quote Originally Posted by jiro View Post
    Another simpler procedure that I usually do is to use a spot meter reading of the palm of my hand then add a +1/3 to +2/3 EV to the one recommended by my camera's metering and take the shot....
    Just a question about the reading of your palm, Willie. When performing this spot meter reading of your palm, are you actually holding the shutter button down half-way in the process? I've heard of taking meter readings from other sources prior to taking an actual shot of the subject, but I don't quite understand, yet, how it all works.

    Jeff
    Last edited by Dave Humphries; 18th June 2012 at 10:55 PM. Reason: fix quote tags

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    Re: Dark images when using Aperture Priority

    Sorry, but I haven't quite figured out, yet, how to post someone else's quote to appear in a quote balloon...

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    Re: Dark images when using Aperture Priority

    Quote Originally Posted by bisso7 View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by jiro View Post
    Another simpler procedure that I usually do is to use a spot meter reading of the palm of my hand then add a +1/3 to +2/3 EV to the one recommended by my camera's metering and take the shot....
    Just a question about the reading of your palm, Willie. When performing this spot meter reading of your palm, are you actually holding the shutter button down half-way in the process? I've heard of taking meter readings from other sources prior to taking an actual shot of the subject, but I don't quite understand, yet, how it all works.

    Jeff
    Taking a metered reading off your palm has to be done in Manual Mode. In that way, even if you recompose, the reading taken off of the palm of your hand will be kept since you are in manual mode. As long as your subject and you are in the same lighting condition you will get a favorable and "correct" exposure.

    What I normally do is like this:

    1. Set the camera in Manual Mode.
    2. Set the Metering Mode to Spot.
    3. Take an exposure reading off the palm of my hand under the same light as the subject.
    4. Center the exposure meter needle while focusing at my palm.
    5. then, adjust by 1/3 or 2/3 EV.

    The reason why you are pressing the shutter release button half-way is to let the camera focus well on your palm. If the palm of your hand is not in focus, you might get a variation on your meter reading by about 1/3 EV more value than what you need. It may look tedious but in actual practice it will only take about 3 - 4 seconds off your time to take the reading. In street photography I do this a lot. Helps me concentrate more in capturing the moment than fiddling with my camera controls.
    On your other question, taking a reading off the green grass or vegetation either in center-weighed or matrix metering mode (evaluative for Canon cameras) is also a good option. You're usually off by only about +/- 1/3 EV from the best exposure reading.

    The best way to resolve any question in photography is to try it yourself regardless on how many attempts it would take you to understand how the process works. It's like saying ". . . you have to take a bite on that apple to know whether it is sweet or not." It's also a good way to correct any misconception about a certain subject because you have experienced and validated it yourself. Hope this helps, Jeff.

    Btw, the reason why you made a mistake quoting what I have said is because you probably deleted the other end of the quote clause. Every quote has to end with the other pair of the quote syntax.
    Last edited by Dave Humphries; 18th June 2012 at 10:55 PM. Reason: fix quote tags

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    Re: Dark images when using Aperture Priority

    Quote Originally Posted by bisso7 View Post
    Sorry, but I haven't quite figured out, yet, how to post someone else's quote to appear in a quote balloon...
    Instead of clicking on 'reply' click o0n 'reply with quote' and then edit out the parts of what you copied that do not apply to your comment

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    Re: Dark images when using Aperture Priority

    Yes, I did click on "reply with quote," but, as Willie mentioned, I deleted part of the quote syntax.

    Thanks so much, Willie. Your explanation helped tremendously!

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