How to properly meter a wedding dress?

Discussion in 'Photography Beginners' Forum' started by hankejp, Apr 12, 2009.

  1. hankejp

    hankejp TPF Noob!

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    I've been searching high and low, but can't find a clear cut answer anywhere. How do you properly meter for a wedding dress so the dress doesn't get blown out? Also, what would you meter when you have the Bride and Groom together?

    Thanks
     
  2. tsaraleksi

    tsaraleksi TPF Noob!

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    Shoot and check your exposure, look at whether you've got stuff blowing, and back it down if you're losing detail. Make sure you're not metering only off the dress, which will give you substantial under exposure.
     
  3. nikonpreap

    nikonpreap TPF Noob!

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    my suggesting would be meter on the dress?
     
  4. bdavis

    bdavis TPF Noob!

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    Meter on the dress and do a test shot, simplest way. Be prepared to add some exposure comp. Since the dress is white and it will most likely be taking up a large portion of the frame, the camera will read the scene as being lighter than it is so it will select a faster shutter speed, this will underexpose everything. You'll want to experiment with adding exposure comp until you get a good looking photo. Remember, the histogram is your friend. Also, watch your highlights, don't blow them out.
     
  5. tirediron

    tirediron Watch the Birdy! Staff Member Supporting Member

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    Incident reading of the dress, test-shot to confirm and then bracket 1/3 over and under to allow for any changes in the lighting (eg the sun coming out from or going behind a cloud).
     
  6. Dwig

    Dwig TPF Noob!

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    I believe you mean "reflected reading" and not "incident reading". Its not possible to take an incident reading of a subject or portion of a subject.

    Back to the OP's question:
    There is no single answer, hence your not finding one. The problem is that the dynamic range of different films and different digital sensors vary. In the case of digital, a single sensor will deliver a difference dynamic range at differing ISO settings. This means that the difference, in stops, between that middle or average tone in the picture and the point where highlights begin to clip varies.

    There are two approaches:

    1. trial-and-terror: shoot a test shot and review the histogram to judge whether significant highlights are clipping. If so, take another test at a somewhat reduced exposure and check the histogram again. Eventually you will find the right exposure. With experience, you'll find a nice average amount of exposure shift that your camera, with either your chosen film or your preferred digital ISO, requires. You'll be able to use that without any further testing most of the time.

    2. Calibrate your camera's sensor and meter: This derives from the old B&W film "religion" known as the Zone System. You first need to disable all the metering brains in your camera, generally by selecting a spot metering mode. Meter from the dress only. Now take a series of pictures starting with this metered exposure and reducing the exposure in each subsequent shot. Now find the best picture, in terms of reproducing the dress, and determine how many stops different the exposure was compared to the spot reading. You can now use this difference in future shots, so long as you use the same film or the same digital camera at the same ISO, by spot metering a dress in manual mode and shifting the exposure by the pre-determined amount.

    Both of these methods are approximately the right way to go. They will yield a nice looking dress, but other things in the picture (e.g. skin tones) may not be optimally exposed. Also, the Trial-and-Terror method is a little bit wonky unless you do it for each and every shot. If you use the correction from one shot on another and are using a meter with its own intelligence you have two brains trying to correct the same problem. This brings up images of the old hook and ladder fire truck sequences in the old Keystone Kops movies, and similar, where there was a second driver for the rear wheels who would no always steer around the same side of an obstacle as the primary driver.
     
  7. hankejp

    hankejp TPF Noob!

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    Thank you all for your answers. I got some good information out of this as usual from this forum. I will do some practicing with my wife old dress out in the yard on a sunny day once.

    U guys are the best.
     
  8. tirediron

    tirediron Watch the Birdy! Staff Member Supporting Member

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    No, I meant incident thanks.
     
  9. hankejp

    hankejp TPF Noob!

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    That is what I am most afraid of. Blowing our the white on the dress.


    Thanks again
     
  10. Ryan L

    Ryan L TPF Noob!

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    listen to all the advice and dont forget...shoot RAW especially for wedding shots. You only get one chance. I recently did my first wedding and I am so glad I shot RAW there are so many on the dress that I was able to pull the details out in that otherwise would have been missing info in. You cant process data that doesnt exist. For all the wedding photogs out there....I applaud you. I understand why weddings cost so much. I have been processing photos for 2 weeks now (which is why I have been so absent around here). I thought the planning was the hard part...but man the pp and editing...forever. I will post them someday when I get done!
     
  11. Bitter Jeweler

    Bitter Jeweler Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    :lmao:
     
  12. usayit

    usayit No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Anyone do the old fashioned way? Meter the brightest and darkest and figure out the mid tone exposure that brings both darkest and brightest points within the dynamic range of film/sensor?

    Heck... I recall simply metering off a bright clothing and adding 2-3 stops to it in a pinch... seems to work most of the time. Well then again.. I'm not making a living as a wedding photog these days. If you can leverage the instant feedback of digital for trial and error process to figure out exposure, I figure why not?
     

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