Expose?

Discussion in 'Beyond the Basics' started by EchoingWhisper, Apr 30, 2012.

  1. EchoingWhisper
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    EchoingWhisper New Member

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    Where should I expose for portraits? Should I expose for the shadow or highlights of the faces?
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  2. Overread
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    Overread has a hat around here somewhere Staff Member

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    The "rule" I've always heard for digital is when in doubt expose for the highlights* and capture as much light data as possible. Then in editing you can pull back the exposure to the effect you want. This being better than pushing the photo up from the shadows and thus generating/revealing more noise. That's at least the basic idea of expose to the right method.



    * saying that I probably mean more expose for the brights as opposed to highlights - since things like bright eye highlights would easily have the rest of the shot very underexposed by virtue of their much brighter light - and their size makes them unnoticeable even when overexposed)
  3. EchoingWhisper
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    EchoingWhisper New Member

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    I do understand what you're trying to say. I'm already using this technique. But what I'm asking is that for the end product, which part of the face should be correctly exposed?
  4. Vtec44
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    Well that depends on if you want to under or over expose and if the lighting on the face is even, not to mention skin tone of the person. I use either the forehead or the cheeks with spot metering. For studio, I use a light meter. :D
  5. EchoingWhisper
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    EchoingWhisper New Member

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    I find that even gray cards aren't useful enough. It depends on the direction the gray card is facing. I thought of this, in low light, the highlights should be exposed, in day light, the shadows should be exposed. I'm still not sure if that would work though. I'm now struggling with selecting which part of the face to expose. I tried to expose shadows if most of the face is in shadow, and vice versa, but that didn't work. It turned out very unprofessional, because the exposure of each scene isn't the same. The easiest thing to do is to use a reflector, but that doesn't work in all conditions. Any ideas?
  6. KmH
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    KmH Helping photographers learn to fish

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    Caucasian skin highlights should be between 235 and 240 in the red channel.

    The darkest skin areas should be between 12 and 32. Less than 12 is under exposed.

    For people that don't have 'pink' skin it's a little different lighting wise.
    We still need the 240 in the highlights, but dark skinned people should be lit so the light reflections show the form and contours of the face, instead of using shadows to model the facial mask. A dark shadow on dark skin will not show form and contour.
  7. EchoingWhisper
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    EchoingWhisper New Member

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    I'm still confused. For the end product, which part of the skin should have correct brightness?
  8. KmH
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    KmH Helping photographers learn to fish

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    THE HIGHLIGHTS & don't block the shadows unless you're going for a high degree of drama with the lighting!
  9. EchoingWhisper
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    EchoingWhisper New Member

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    Which means I have to find a middle point for both the highlights and the shadows. Don't seem like an easy thing to do.
  10. gsgary
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    gsgary Well-Known Member

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    Should be you have a Nikon
  11. Mach0
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    It's not lol. I drive myself nuts still. That's where spot metering comes in. I haven't tried it in the sun or with flash yet lol. I'm still trying to learn it without. I'm talking a huge difference though. Like a person with darker skin wearing a white shirt. I'll learn it though.
  12. EchoingWhisper
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    EchoingWhisper New Member

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    lol, it's not Nikon's problem, more like my problem. I do use my friends' Canons quite often. Canon have the same problem, so most likely I'm just nitpicky.
  13. EchoingWhisper
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    EchoingWhisper New Member

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    My spot meter covers too much to be useful. In many cases, it's just too large. Really hope that I could select the spot size.
  14. gsgary
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    gsgary Well-Known Member

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    Not in my hands they don't
  15. Mach0
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    I am not sure if I'm doing it right to be honest. But I take a reading off of both and choose something in between. If highlights are still blown, then I adjust and try it again. I know it will take me a little while. I have to read up on it again. I don't know much about the zones yet but setting the camera's highlight warning helps a lot.
  16. MReid
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    Get the highlights right.
    You can adjust the shadows in processing, if you blow out the skin to far there is no saving it.
    Set your blinkies to go off if the skin is blown, adjust the exposure as necessary to keep the blinkies from going off on the areas of the skin you care about.
  17. Tiberius47
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    Expose for the highlights and put detail back in the shadows with flash.
  18. EchoingWhisper
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    EchoingWhisper New Member

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    ... No one is answering my question right. I mean, for the end result. Not what you would expose for. Generally I expose to prevent blown highlights. But now I'm asking how bright the photos should be for the end result? Which part of the photo should the brightness be optimised for?
  19. EchoingWhisper
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    You need to comprehend my post. I'm not talking about getting the exposure in camera. I'm talking bout' the end result. Which part of the face should be correctly exposed? The one in the shadows or the one at the highlights. Unless you have even lighting, you'll never get right exposure for every single part of the face. So my question is, which is the preferred area to have the face exposed correctly?
  20. shmne
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    Everyone has been answering your question, its just you need to read between the lines a bit. If you are exposing for the brights when you shoot the image, then you should also be exposing for the brights when you are finishing the image in post production.

    The goal is to bring enough detail back in the darks, without affecting the brights at all. You still want contrast, so try to ensure you don't brighten the darks too much. The best way to do this is with a 50% gray layer in overlay and to paint with a 2-3% white brush on the dark side of the face. This will slowly bring back small amounts of detail.

    Now if you do this, you will have a properly exposed bright side of the face with a not too dark side of the face. Also you could save yourself the hassle and just use flash to surpass this issue all together.

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