Trying to understand the highly acclaimed book "Understanding Exposure"

Discussion in 'Photography Beginners' Forum' started by Wilynn, May 8, 2007.

  1. Wilynn

    Wilynn TPF Noob!

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    Lots of people are fans of the book titled, "Understanding Exposure" written by Bryan Peterson. It's a book that everyone raves about, but I'm having a hard time understanding the authors concept on one paticular thing.

    The whole book centers on the reader using a light meter to follow the authors lessons. But most non-SLR, manually adjustable digital cameras don't have a light meter, right? My manually adujustable super zoom Canon S3 IS doesn't have a light meter. The Canon S3 is not an SLR. It's sandwiched inbetween the pocket camera and SLR categories.

    So here's my question: how does a photography student like me use the famous lessons taught by Mr. Peterson if my manually adjustable camera doesn't have a light meter to work with? (I do have a histogram. Does that factor into any of this?)

    P.S. Here's what Mr. Peterson starts off the very first lesson with, words lifted from his book "Understanding Exposure", words that dramatically illustrate his ultra-heavy reliance on obtaining a light meter reading in each and every manual exposure. Words that are highly regarded by those in the photographic community and I quote:

    "Now, look through the viewfinder and focus on your subject. Adjust your shutter speed until the camera's light meter indicates a 'correct' exposure in your viewfinder and take the photograph. You've just made a manual correct exposure!"




    [​IMG]
     
  2. Rusty_Tripod

    Rusty_Tripod TPF Noob!

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    If you do not have a camera that is supported by the book, that is like reading a book about repairing Ford F100 picks when you are driving a VW bug. The book is a great one but does not sound like it has any value to you. Don't blame the book. Find a manual for your camera.

    Rusty Tripod
     
  3. firemedic0135

    firemedic0135 TPF Noob!

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    I believe the s3 is has exposure information on the back lcd to direct you to the correct exposure.I used to have one but it has been awhile.It has to have some kind of metering for the camera to expose correctly in av,tv program or auto.
     
  4. Wilynn

    Wilynn TPF Noob!

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    Lots of people are huge fans of "Understanding Exposure". That's easy to understand when you know that once you've mastered exposure, you've mastered photography.

    Please correct me if I'm wrong, but the author, Bryan Peterson, seems to have written his book geared to film cameras.

    In this quote from his book he talks ever so briefly (skirted the issue?) about the light meter situation and how it pertains to the digital camera and I quote:

    "Digital shooters, on the other hand and despite all the technology advances, must resort to the old way and tell the meter what the ISO is.

    That's the only thing he said in regards to light meters and digital cameras!

    That quotation may not make alot of sense to someone just starting out in the subject of manual adjustment photography, even if they do know what ISO is. The student might want to know in what sequence do they adjust the settings?

    Sequence: we have what Bryan Peterson calls "The Photographic Triangle". It's a triangle made up of the aperture, shutter speed and ISO.

    The student might want to know, out of the three factors that make up the Photogrgaphic Triangle, which one do you set first, which one do you set second of all and which one do you set last of all if you don't have the use of a light meter when manually adjusting your digital camera?
     
  5. Garbz

    Garbz No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    The S3 has manual functions. It must be able to show you somewhere how your manual functions relate to the metre settings. Look through the manual.
     
  6. Sw1tchFX

    Sw1tchFX TPF Noob!

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    Incident light meters are incident light meters, regardless if it's film or digital. They work off EXACTLY the same principals.

    Your S3 has a light meter in it, otherwise how can it get a usable exposure?


    Look in your manual and find where it tells you your exposure information.


    The thing is that the book isn't geared towards film, it's geared towards manual camera systems, from small format to large format.
     
  7. Wilynn

    Wilynn TPF Noob!

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    Yes, my Canon S3 has a light meter in it, but it doesn not show the user the results. It just reads the light and then processes the data without displaying any hard numbers relative to light metering. The S3, like other digital cameras, both non-SLR and SLR, lack a light meter that displays results, but they do have what is called an Exposure Compensation Meter.

    The book "Understanding Exoposure" & DSLR's: The author relies heavily on the use of a light meter. He wrote that you should use your camera to get a light meter reading whenever you start to set the aperture, shutter speed and ISO, so based on that statement his book was written with the film camera in mind because only film cameras have a true light meter built into it, right? I think so...

    My Nikon D-50 (an SLR) doesn't have a light meter that gives the results in numbers back to the user, so using a DSLR to learn how to set a camera manually is not really an issue, I don't think. But what it does have is something that I think is similar. It has what's called an "Exposure Compensation Meter, as does my super zoom non-SLR Canon S3. And the ECM does show the results of its assessment, and it does allow the user to make adjustments to the exposure.

    Anyway, I don't think the author of "Understanding Exposure" is referring the exposure compensation meter in a digital camera to that of an external, hand held light meter or an internal light meter in an SLR film camera.

    Or is that to say that external light meters and internal exposure compensation meters built into digital cameras are sort of like kissing cousins in that they serve the same purpose? I wish Mr. Peterson had commented on that very aspect, but he failed to do so. :(
     
  8. fightheheathens

    fightheheathens TPF Noob!

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    The camera must have a light meter that gives you results, otherwise the manual setting you claim to have would make no sence at all. In any other mode other then full manual (and i believe this is true of all DSLRs) the camera automatically selects a "correct" exposure.

    I have a Canon A80, its about 3 years old now and it has a full manual mode. I select shutter, aperature, and ISO and get a meter reading from it. the meter reading i see works just like any SLR or DSLR that i have ever used. I make my selections then press the shutter button halfway and a number appears in the upper right corner. the number tells me how far off from a proper exposure i am. if the number gives me -+0 that means i have a correct exposure. -1 means i am one stop underexposing, +1 means one stop over exposing. In most SLR's there is a led display some such that you see when looking through the viewfinder that tells you how far from a properexposure you are.

    All DSLR's have a light meter as well as all SLR's. Any SLR i have used doesnt give you back actual hard numbers, but rather how far from proper exposure your current settings are.

    so to sum up my post, yes, your camera does have a light meter that will tell you how far from a proper exposure your current settings are.
     
  9. firemedic0135

    firemedic0135 TPF Noob!

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    got this from dpreview

    [​IMG]
     
  10. Sw1tchFX

    Sw1tchFX TPF Noob!

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    I've got to be missing something here.
     
  11. EOS_JD

    EOS_JD TPF Noob!

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    Your camera does have a lightmeter - switch it to M and you can adjust ISO, shutter speed and Aperture. The meter reads reflected light (light reflected from your subject be it a portrait or a scene). Generally you would use a light meter to give an incident light reading (that is the amount of light actually falling on your subject).

    See above - your meter is there :)
    Histogram gives information relating to the tones in your image. Do a google search for more info on this. The histogram can vary greatly depending on the image you make.

    What I note above is that it's assumed that the user is using an SLR (film or digital) where the exposure info is shown in the viewfinder. That is not the case with compact digicams like the S3 IS. The exposure info is shown on the back of your camera on the LCD screen. This is an important difference in the use of SLR (dSLR)v Digicams.

    When you look through the viewfinder you will see info like this below. The important thing here is that bar -2 to +2. the numbers left to right show shutter speed (1/500th in this case) and aperture (f3.5 here) When the small line at the botton of the bars is in the middle (I'm talking generally here) and you take a shot, that will be a correct exposure. If you shutter speed is too fast the small bar below indicates under exposure and moves left and the opposite if shutter speed is too slow showing over exposure. The same is true if you amends ISO or aperture in manual too. The bar moves left or right with every change to these exposure factors. the bar will also move as you move the camera through different light. All 3 factors (SS, Ap & ISO) together are required to get a correct exposure and that correct exposure can be made in many ways - look at the fairground image in the book.

    [​IMG]


    Do you have this bar at the bottom of the screen when in M mode? I'm sure you do. This is VERY important.

    Half press the shutter to get exposure info and if it's too far left, you need to increase shutter speed or increase the ISO or make the aperture larger (lower the f number) until it's in the centre. That is then a correct exposure for general use. (Sometimes you need over/under (exposure compensation) but that should be explained in the book).

    Hope this helps.
     
  12. EOS_JD

    EOS_JD TPF Noob!

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    Switch it to M mode and all the numbers will be visible and able to be changed - read your manual how to do this.

    Not true. Every digital camera has a reflective light meter in it (or it can't make an exposure). Light meters generally read both reflective and incident light. Incident light is the light falling on your subject (used for for portraiture and still life or anywhere that your subject is pretty still).

    Of course your D50 has a light meter. Exposure compensation is a part of the exposure system that fine tunes exposure. This is the meter reading I mentioned above. Move it to the centre and that will be a correct exposure. If the S3 IS has this then use it. Move the shutter speed and/or aperture and/or ISO up down and when this meter is in the middle that is a correct exposure.

    It's not called an Exposure Compensation Meter..... That is THE meter reading :D you got it yeah!!!!

    I'll say again, cameras read reflected light. Point your camera at a subject and the light coming bnack through the lens is read and you adjust the settings to suit. External meters can do the same.

    The difference is when you use an external meter to read incident light which is the light falling on your subject.

    Here's an example. Sit someone in front of a large window on a bright day. Point the camera at the subject (any camera with a meter) and the camera will give a reading. Take the shot. What you'll get is a nicely exposed background and an under exposed subject because the light reflected back through the lens is brighter than the light falling on your subject soyour subject is under exposed.

    Now use an external incident light meter. Put the meter under the chin, press the button to get your reading and plug the info into the camera (in Manual mode and ignoring the meter info in the camera). Take a shot and the subject will be perfectly exposed although it's likely the background will be over exposed.

    Hope this is starting to make sense as my fingers are now sore typing!!!
    :)

    Regards
    JD
     

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