Exposure comp help

RVT1K

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This was shot using spot-metering and I have the spot size down as low as it will go. The spot was dead-set on the bird yet it looks overexposed to me and this is after I used PS Elements to knock down the highlights.

I guess my first question is..Is the overexposure likely due to the spot being larger than the bird and that the surroundings were also taken into consideration by the camera when determining exposure?

If so would have using the exposure compensation helped get a better exposure on the bird?

_0007944PS1 16x9 - Copy.jpg
 
This can happen with smaller subjects.
The most likely cause if using any type of auto mode with spot metering is the metering area is larger than the subject. Yes lowering the exposure comp will help correct this depending on the mode you're in i.e. shutter/apeture prioirity/manual with auto iso etc.

I have to use it all the time with small/black/white birds.
 
The problem with spot metering is that it can be very accurate to a very tiny area. If you look at the bird the lighting on it is not even. You've areas in shade such as the shoulder or back of the wing all the way to areas in full light like the breast and face. So if your spot meter hits the front you'll get a shot exposed for the breast, which might leave that area decently exposed, but the shoulders underexposed; meanwhile if you hit one of the darker areas you might get what you've got here, good exposure there and overexposure on the breast.

Spot metering is a tricky form of metering and often risky with a living subject.

Instead for a shot like this you could easily use manual mode. Provided the light remains constant (or mostly constant) and the subject is coming too the feeder then you can take a shot of the feeder and general area without the bird and simply adjust your exposure to suit; then wait for the subject to appear. You don't need to re-meter since you've already got the settings.
 
Thanks for the input. I'll have to do some experimenting and see how I do.

I didn't include I was shooting in aperture-priority and I do not use auto ISO.
 
Your camera's metering system says everything in the world is 18% gray. If you spot meter on a light colored subject, it will be underexposed and turn out gray. If you spot meter on a dark colored subject, it will be overexposed and turn out gray. FWIW, shoot raw and use matrix metering. Exposure is the absolute easiest thing to adjust in PP and you will easily be able to correct +/-2 to 2.5 stops in PP. IF in an HDR situation, matrix meter and bracket +/-2 or maybe 3 stops and fix it in PP. Your image actually looks pretty good to me on a calibrated monitor. Nice work! Might I suggest a tighter crop as the stuff on the right adds no value and crank down the green luminance to darken the bright greens in the background to separate your subject a bit more. An alternative would be to dodge and burn by masking the subject and darkening the feeder and background.
 
FWIW, shoot raw and use matrix metering.

For most things this may be okay but a some of wildlife is nowhere near the colour of their surroundings which will either blow out or make the subject so dark it would be unrecoverable even in raw. Not saying it can't be done but your overall keeper rate will tank in matrix metering.

HDR again won't work with a VERY quick subject like a hummingbird. They just don't stay still enough.
 
FWIW, shoot raw and use matrix metering.

For most things this may be okay but a some of wildlife is nowhere near the colour of their surroundings which will either blow out or make the subject so dark it would be unrecoverable even in raw. Not saying it can't be done but your overall keeper rate will tank in matrix metering.

HDR again won't work with a VERY quick subject like a hummingbird. They just don't stay still enough.

I am an avid birder. I shoot raw, single point AF (most of the time), matrix metering, manual, auto ISO from 100-1600. I will use EC (exposure compensation) if my white or black bird covers a lot of the frame or for birds against a bright sky where you want to be on the verge of blowing out the sky. Other than that, matrix metering works for me. In all cases, I recommend checking your histograms. You might want to look at Steve Perry's book "Secrets to Stunning Wildlife Photography". Specifically the chapter "Nail the Exposure". You can find it at backcountrygallery.com.

When an HDR situation with a quick moving subject, expose for the subject, which may require spot metering and / or EC and you may have to dodge and burn in PP. There is another PP technique that works. Expose for and shoot the background without the subject. Expose and shoot the subject. Use a mask to take the subject out of the HDR background and drop it into the properly exposed background.
 
If I remember correctly spot metering takes about 1/4 of a second or so to kick in, so on fast moving subjects it's less than ideal and I've had many fails with spot metering and BIF. I find CWA or partial better in most situations. Some of the time I'll still use spot metering, but I'll pre-set the exposure, take a test frame and check the histohram before settling down.
 
I am not so hot on the technical side of things but if I were taking the shot I would think about bracketing
But I don’t do this sort of image so don’t know if it will work just a thought
 
Thanks for all the input.

I used to capture in both RAW and .jpeg but found myself never really doing anything with the RAW files. I have to admit that much of that probably comes from the fact that I am familiar with doing post-processing on .jpegs and not so much with RAW files. I've ordered another CF card for both cameras and will set things up so that one collects RAW files and the other .jpegs, forcing me to revisit working with RAW files.

I also thought of bracketing last night (before I read it here, honest!). Another aspect of my camera I never explored that I will do some experimenting with.
 
Thanks for all the input.

I goi both RAW and .jpeg but found myself never really doing anything with the RAW files. I have to admit that much of that probably comes from the fact that I am familiar with doing post-processing on .jpegs and not so much with RAW files. I've ordered another CF card for both cameras and will set things up so that one collects RAW files and the other .jpegs, forcing me to revisit working with RAW files.

I also thought of bracketing last night (before I read it here, honest!). Another aspect of my camera I never explored that I will do some experimenting with.

I like your thinking as you will have more options. Consider going back to shooting both raw and jpg. If you are happy with the jpg, use it. If not, you have the ability to fix the raw file. When shooting jpg, the camera takes the raw sensor data and processes it making a lot of decision for you. It decides on a white point, adjusts contrast, sharpens, color corrects into the srgb color space, truncates down to 8 bits / color, does other stuff I don't remember, and applies a lossless data compression scheme. You cannot recover the original raw image from a jpg file. Easy corrections to make on the raw data in most any PP software are white point / tint, exposure, contrast, sharpening, and cropping. When you export, it will be converted into a jpg with the settings you chose. If you don't like what you've done, use the jpg from the camera, but you will be making better decisions than the camera after processing just a few raw images.
 
Thanks for all the input.

I goi both RAW and .jpeg but found myself never really doing anything with the RAW files. I have to admit that much of that probably comes from the fact that I am familiar with doing post-processing on .jpegs and not so much with RAW files. I've ordered another CF card for both cameras and will set things up so that one collects RAW files and the other .jpegs, forcing me to revisit working with RAW files.

I also thought of bracketing last night (before I read it here, honest!). Another aspect of my camera I never explored that I will do some experimenting with.

I like your thinking as you will have more options. Consider going back to shooting both raw and jpg. If you are happy with the jpg, use it. If not, you have the ability to fix the raw file. When shooting jpg, the camera takes the raw sensor data and processes it making a lot of decision for you. It decides on a white point, adjusts contrast, sharpens, color corrects into the srgb color space, truncates down to 8 bits / color, does other stuff I don't remember, and applies a lossless data compression scheme. You cannot recover the original raw image from a jpg file. Easy corrections to make on the raw data in most any PP software are white point / tint, exposure, contrast, sharpening, and cropping. When you export, it will be converted into a jpg with the settings you chose. If you don't like what you've done, use the jpg from the camera, but you will be making better decisions than the camera after processing just a few raw images.


I realized (after the fact) that I wasn't as clear as I should have been. Both my cameras (D3 and D4) have two slots for memory cards. I'll be setting both cameras to capture RAW on one card and .jepgs on the other card. My copy of PS Elements has the provision to open RAW files and I'll have to play and see what I can do with it.
 
Even though you were using spot metering mode there is a completely black area right behind the bird.

If let's say 50% of the spot meter were reading this black area, then your final exposure would be significantly overexposed.

It might well be that the spot covered the bird partially and the black area partially.
 

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