In Camera Light Meter

Discussion in 'Photography Beginners' Forum' started by Dionysus, Oct 3, 2008.

  1. Dionysus

    Dionysus TPF Noob!

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    pardon the question, but I AM a newbie, but I am going off of the book "understanding exposure". It says for scenes w/ lots of greenery , that i should meter off a big block of green, then recompose and take the shot w/ the exposure settings gained from metering off the green. The problem is when i did that (ad nauseum today) the pic would come out really dark, and underexposed.

    Understanding exposure also said that when there is a big blue sky out to meter off of the sky, recompose and take the shot based on the exposure settings gained from metering off the sky. The same thing happens to me doing that as w/ the green. The sky will come outfine, but the rest of the shot will come out underexposed.

    am i doing something wrong?
     
  2. mrodgers

    mrodgers No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Sorry I can't help you with this. Just wanted to confirm that after reading that and also hearing it mentioned and suggested on this forum, I do that very often and it always works for me.

    Example, when I am out in the yard with my kids and have the camera, I will put it in manual, meter off either the grass or the sky (I meter 180 degrees or so from the sun) and leave my settings there while shooting off photos of the kids.
     
  3. realitycheck3907

    realitycheck3907 TPF Noob!

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    Dionysus I've also read that book. Twice so far. But if I understand right he's taking a meter reading off of the brightest area of the shot your taking, that you dont overexpose your subject. It may depend on what your shooting and the area your shooting into. Like if you take a meter reading off the sky but then your subject is hidden in a shadow their going to come out severely underexposed.
    I had to read the whole book to understand this a little better. Including all his captions for the pictures he's taken. After reading it this second time through I understood a little more.
     
  4. tirediron

    tirediron Watch the Birdy! Staff Member Supporting Member

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    Part of the problem may be due to the fact that you're likely using matrix/wide-area metering which is being fooled by a bright or dark area in the scene. Your best bet is to expose for the subject, so, if you're subject is a person in the shade, meter the person.

    You also need to understand at least the basics of how camera meters work. They assume that everything is 18% (or close to it) grey, which is a darkish grey probably fairly close to the grey of the "Post reply" button on this forum. If you metere something that's much brighter than that, say snow, you're going to have an under-exposed image because the snow is many times brighter than the dark grey the meter is expecting.

    Average caucasian skin is about one full stop brighter or more reflective than 18% grey, so if you're stuck, walk over to your subject, place your hand in front of it, meter it, add one stop, and you should be just about bang on. Dark green lawn grass is just about exactly the same reflectivity as 18% grey, so if there's a patch of lawn convenient you can use that as well.
     
  5. Dionysus

    Dionysus TPF Noob!

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    i think i had a problem due to what RC mentioned, because even though there was lots of green, the subject area was in lots of shade, hence underexposed subject. THe problem though is that i thought this a possibility, and metered off of the subject area, but then the sky seemed overexposed, while the subject area was just right...how does one find a happy medium?

    also..i was using center weighted metering.
     
  6. tirediron

    tirediron Watch the Birdy! Staff Member Supporting Member

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    Skies, especially bright, overcast skies are the bane of the photographer's existance. There are several ways to deal with the problem. The best is to wait until you have better light, but that's rarely an option, so: (1) You can average the scene, that is, meter the bright and dark elements of it, figure out where the "middle" is and expose for that dealing with the over and under exposed elements in post, or (2) you can use filters. Graduated neutral density (G-ND) are the most common, and have by using a dark, but optically optically clear band at the top which transitions to completely clear at the bottom, allow you to increase the exposure on the subject while retaining detail in the sky, or (3) You can use fill light to brighten up the subject. You could also shoot several images at different exposures and try an HDR, but if your subject is a person, it's probably not going to work.
     
  7. Alex_B

    Alex_B No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    you have to decide what you want to be exposed correctly, so it really depends on the scene you shoot. with strong contrasts between foreground and background you cannot have it all. so go for what you want, which might be a compromise in between the extremes.

    In any case to do reliable meter reading through the lens, you have to use spot metering on the different parts of the scene.
     

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both cameras meter the same but one comes out underexposed