Quick Question about Metering a scen for the correct exposure...

Discussion in 'Beyond the Basics' started by Dhucker, Nov 5, 2005.

  1. Dhucker

    Dhucker TPF Noob!

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    I've been shooting for abuot a year or so and have been having a hard time with exposure. so i've been reading about it, bought a few books and read a few things online and i'm kinda gettin there i just have one problem.

    everywhere i read it usually says something like "i set up my tripod, and i metered the scene, that indicated a wrong exposure so i pointed my camera at the sky/ground/other object which gave me a correct exposure reading as seen in the shot below"

    Now heres my question. say you're shooting a sunset and you just compose and shoot going by the reading on your camera. and it comes out too dark. if you were to point the camera elsewhere.. say the ground... to get a correct exposure of the foreground of the scene and recompose and shot wouldn't that reading make the sunset itself come out too bright while making the foreground prefectly exposed?? i'm still baffled on how that works... could anyone elaborate for me?

    sorry for the confusion heh.
     
  2. jstuedle

    jstuedle No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Yes, the sun would be burned into the image. This is the part of photography we call art. Knowing the limitations of the film/sensor and using them to your advantage, or dealing with them in a creative way is part of this craft we call photography. Film does not have the latitude our eye does, and digital even less. That is to say, our eye does a better job registering a wider range of highlights and shadows in the same scene than our cameras do. Hope this helped, even a little.
     
  3. Dhucker

    Dhucker TPF Noob!

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    well i know that our eye percieves light better then cameras, i was just wondering that if you were to compensate an exposure for something you pointed your camera at, that would only be the correct exposure for what you pointed at right? if that's the case, then why do they tell you that's a correct exposure for an entire scene when it would obvously leave the other pportio of the photo under/over exposed.
     
  4. Hertz van Rental

    Hertz van Rental TPF Noob!

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    What a meter is doing when it gives you a reading is trying to give you mid tone grey.
    If you metered a white square, a black square and a grey square and took pictures of each on black and white film using the meter settings, the squares would all come out the same shade of grey.
    When you meter a subject you have to bear this in mind and then you meter the object or area of illumination that you want to come out mid tone. For a portrait this could be skin, for a landscape it could be grass.
    For colour the mid tone setting would give you natural rendition of colours. An increase of light on the setting you have used would make the colours look pale and washed out. A decrease would make them look dark and muddy.
    For B&W films, the exposure range is 7 stops so anything 3 stops or more above your meter reading will come out white on the print. Anything with an illumination level 4 or more stops below the meter reading will print black.
    For colour films the range is approximately 4-5 stops.
    For transparency it's only 2-3 stops if you are going to have them printed. But you can get away with more if you are going to scan them.
    Digital works like a combination of neg and transparency film. If you are going to print it out you only have about 5 stops, but if you are just going to look at it on screen then you have around 7.
    If you are taking a sunset, meter the sun and then open up about 2 or 3 stops (depending upon conditions). That will give you the optimum exposure.
    For landscapes you can do the same by taking a meter reading from the sky and then opening up about 2 stops.
    Understanding how the meter works and how the film records the scene is one of the fundamentals of learning photography. For more in-depth info try reading up on Ansel Adams' Zone System.
     

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