question about exposure

Discussion in 'Photography Beginners' Forum' started by shingfan, Feb 21, 2007.

  1. shingfan

    shingfan TPF Noob!

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    this might sound stupid...but how do i know if the exposure of a picture is good....assuming that i like to have a proper exposure on a photo...nothing creative.........is it right by looking at the histogram to make sure that the graph extends to the outter most right side but not clipping?

    when checking the exposure of my photo on the camera without a light meter
     
  2. Stevedevil

    Stevedevil TPF Noob!

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    The Histogram represents the intensity values from darkness ( 0 ) at the far left to brightness ( 255 ) on the far right, the black bars shotting up from the bottom of the graph represent the total number of pixels with a given value.


    Steve
     
  3. shingfan

    shingfan TPF Noob!

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    yes....i understand what the histogram represents......but i wonder if that would be a good method of getting good exposure when i cant tell from the color alone
     
  4. JDS

    JDS TPF Noob!

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    The histogram can be tough to read when you first start using it..I still don't have it mastered.. :) If you're shooting something at night, the image is going to have a lot of dark pixels in it, so the histogram will show lots of bars on the left side. If you're shooting something extremely bright, or white, the bars will be on the right side. Both of these can be a correct exposure - it all depends on what you're shooting.

    If you're shooting landscapes, etc., depending on how much sky is in the frame, a rule of thumb I like to follow is for the histogram to show pixels near the middle of the graph, or slightly 'weighted' to the right.
     
  5. Digital Matt

    Digital Matt alter ego: Analog Matt

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    The histogram is a nice feature, but can't really tell you whether you got a good exposure. If I showed you a picture and 10 possible histograms, I'd bet with certainty you couldn't tell which histogram went with that picture.

    So that leads me to, what is a good, "proper" exposure. It's very subjective. It depends on your subject, your scene, and your intent. This is really an artistic decision on your part.

    The best thing you can do is learn as much as possible about exposure, and how to use your light meter correctly, and then you'll know without looking at anything, that you got the exposure you were looking for, or the proper exposure for you.

    Ansel Adam's trio of books are an excellent resource, and "The Negative" specifically for learning about exposure.
     
  6. shingfan

    shingfan TPF Noob!

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    the problem is that i dont have a light meter.....so i was thinking my best bet would be reading the histogram.....when i mean good exposure......i was only referring to getting an exposure that is not underexpose or overexposed.......a GOOD exposure as in getting good light and shadow in all area........as a beginner....i'm not too picky about getting super exposure........growing my skills iwth time and experience
     
  7. Digital Matt

    Digital Matt alter ego: Analog Matt

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    You do have a light meter, in your camera. It is a reflected light meter, which means it reads the light reflecting off the subject. It has different modes, most importantly, a spot meter, which allows you to look at parts of the scene individually. (I'm taking for granted that we are talking about using natural light here) Knowing how to use your spot meter is paramount to knowing what you want to do with your exposure. The histogram is really difficult to use to judge overall exposure. It can tell you if you have shadow detail, and if you have clipped any highlights, but there's much more to getting a good exposure than that. I would not rely on the histogram to decide on what is a good exposure or not. If you are unsure of your exposures, you should bracket, and evaluate them carefully on your computer afterwards.
     
  8. shingfan

    shingfan TPF Noob!

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    o...sorry i forgot to mention...not natural light....i'm using flash.....off camera flash........why i need to learn a way to get good exposure.
     
  9. Digital Matt

    Digital Matt alter ego: Analog Matt

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    Hotshoe flash, or strobes?

    You can set your exposure based on the guide number of your flash and the distance to your subject with a little bit of math.
    http://www.cs.mtu.edu/~shene/DigiCam/User-Guide/FZ-10/Ext-Flash/Basic-Functions.html

    http://www.strobist.blogspot.com/ is a good reference for getting the most out of an off camera hotshoe flash setup.

    This is a good read on histograms: http://www.luminous-landscape.com/tutorials/understanding-series/understanding-histograms.shtml
    although it really pertains to natural light.

    If you have strobes, I highly recommend that you get a light meter, and stop guessing on exposures.
     
  10. shingfan

    shingfan TPF Noob!

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    hotshoe flash (SB600).....hehe....saving $$$
     
  11. Stevedevil

    Stevedevil TPF Noob!

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    I have just got the Seconic 308 light meter, and its a great piece of kit for £100 in UK, it allows you to take readings during flash operation and will give all the settings for f stop when you set ISO & shutter speed ( 60 - 125 is generally best )

    It will give you great readings outside to

    Well worth it for a lower end flash / light meter

    Steve
     
  12. EOS_JD

    EOS_JD TPF Noob!

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    Buy "Understanding Exposure" by Bryan Petersen. This book will help you understand what exposure is about and will help you deal with lighting backlit subjects and snow etc which can cause problems with camera meters. You need to understand what the meter is measuring and this book excels in making it easy for you to understand exposure.

    A light meter is great but you do not always have the time to take light meter readings of your subjects. Taking photographs and reading will help more to allow you to understand.

    cheers
    Jim
     

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