🌟 Exclusive 2024 Prime Day Deals! 🌟

Unlock unbeatable offers today. Shop here: https://amzn.to/3LqnCuJ 🎁

exposure comp on a cloudy day for wildlife.

dannylightning

Been spending a lot of time on here!
Joined
Mar 23, 2014
Messages
2,322
Reaction score
770
Location
Akron Ohio
Can others edit my Photos
Photos OK to edit
i think this is a beginner type question so i am gonna post this here..

i have not done much wild life shooting on cloudy days till recently.. when shooting stuff up in trees or up in the sky i constantly seem to get a under exposed subject, or some times over exposed.

i set my camera up like this.. 1/1000, F/8, auto ISO that is for flying birds and gives me sharp images on my lens, i use auto ISO because panning the camera to the left or right wen a bird is flying could really change the exposure so auto ISO keep the exposure consistent. the way my camera is set up if i need to adjust the exposure i need to adjust the exposure compensation.

on a nice well lit day exposure comp works well for me. but i dont really get exactly how to use it it on a cloudy day shooting things with the white sky in the background., i usually get underexposed photos of the subject with a super bright blow out white sky, some time the whole photo seems over exposed when i crank up the exposure comp to a + setting. so this is where it confuses me.

my camera is usually on matirx metering, maybe switching to spot metering would be better for this type of shooting on a cloudy day, i just now though of that so my main questions are.

1. what metering mode on my Nikon is going to be best for shooting birds on cloudy days.

2. what to do with exposure compensation for things flying against the bright white cloudy sky or in a tree against the white cloudy sky,

usually when i see a bird i need to get a quick photo before it flys away so its not like i really have much time to shoot, see how the photo turned out, change the exposure comp and try again because by that time its usually gone.

.
 
Well outside the lighting situation can change dramatically from one scenario to another, I use aperture priority f4-f6.3, auto ISO and mostly worry about adequate shutter speed to capture wildlife with no motion blur.
To compensate for the crazy lighting differences between one scenario to another I simply use exposure compensation.
I already know most of the time more or less how much exposure compensation I need out of experience but I always check the first shot just to be sure.
I found this system to be best for me.
 
Exposure is as perfect a thing as how you like your steak cooked. Some like rare while others like well done.

There is no "right" setting for exposure.

Learn how to use your camera's histogram as a guide to exposure. If you are unfamiliar with a histogram and the data it provides, place "how to read a histogram" into a search engine and do some studying. Then be prepared to use more data to make better shots.

Your most basic editing software - and certainly the better editors - will allow adjustments to exposure and, if you are shooting in RAW, white balance. Decent software can pull quite bit of detail from the shadows along with expanding dynamic range but not much can be done to recover blown out highlights. While exposing to the right is a good idea for capturing the greatest amount of image information, you must settle on a safe buffer zone for just how far to push your exposure.



Your question is somewhat answered in your post, you have tremendously broad variations in your shooting conditions from shot to shot. That boils down to continuously variable settings - within reason - for each shot.

The difference in metering between a bird sitting in a tree against a background of branches and leaves will be very different than the settings for a bird sitting on a branch and seen against the background of a bright sky. No one setting for metering will be correct for both.

Spot metering works well in either case but it also depends on your ability to use your camera's metering systems well. Blowing out the sky is generally acceptable if you are looking for a silhouette of a subject. More often than not, your flash unit will not give you the reach required to add fill to the subject in wildlife photography. Very good editing skills can make a so so image more than what's in the camera.

Certainly, avoiding midday glare will be beneficial. Birds are less active during the middle of the day which gives you some opportunities to catch them at rest. However, birds are seen in more flattering light and in light which poses fewer challenges when you are shooting during those golden hours of the day when the sun sits lower in the sky. Slightly overcast days are a benefit but not an answer.



I would tell you the best thing to do is a series of actions.

First, do your home work by studying the websites of those nature photographers you find interesting. Many provide advice to students of nature photography regarding their own personal camera settings.

Second, learn your camera very well to the point you can quickly change settings on the fly.

Many cameras have custom shooting modes which you can build to suit specific situations. Most have "My Menu" options which place often used controls at the top of a menu list. Some cameras have single function switches which can be set to your preference to make on the fly adjustments to your camera.

If you know the generic settings you will use for your photography, then you can build one or two custom settings which will get you in the ballpark for the specific shot with only the flick of a switch. From there you can adjust as each specific shot requires. Learn your camera and what it can and cannot do. Know how to reach a setting with your eyes closed - or, at least, on the subject and not on the back of the camera.

Third, shoot in RAW capture to provide the largest data file for editing purposes.

If your camera has exposure bracketing functions, use them when they may provide a bit more leeway to a good shot.

Finally, obtain and learn the ins and outs of a good editing program. These will often be the line of last resort to achieving a final result which satisfies the greatest number of shots.
 
i am not new to photography but shooting wild life on a dreary day is new to me. i get how the light meter works but its not often correct on cloudy days.

basically the only adjustments i am worried about would the metering and exposure comp, because flying birds you need 1/1000 or faster. i need to shoot at F/8 if i want the sharpest images out of the lens i am using, ISO set to auto is how i like it and so do most wild life photographers that i have talked do, when any of them tell me how they generally set up their camera its always about the same as i set mine as far as those 3 things go.

i shoot raw and i can fix my photos up in light room, but often the underexposed image get way to grainy when i have to slide the shadow slider all the way over to get good detail in the bird. i am pretty sure i will get better results when editing a photo that had a descent exposure compared to one that was underexposed and you cant see any detail in the animals..

this photo posted was all blown out with the tree and birds under exposed to where they almost looked like shadows, light room did a good job of fixing it up but it probably could have been a better photo if i had a proper exposure in the first place. still turned out descent but i am pretty sure it could have been better if i would have had the exposure comp set differently. i am really just trying to figure out the basics of using exposure comp on a cloudy day. i know its something i probably just need to play with. its just kind of frustrating when you get a good image, shoot something else and its not good at all.
DSC_1120.jpg
 
If you have time, spot meter on the tree then lock exposure ... or flip to manual exposure.
The very light background will probably be washed out but you cannot help that if your subject vs background exposure is very wide ... you have to lose one to get the other.
You can also use manual exposure and pre-set it to some general exposure level if you are moving views like a mad man (when trying to follow birds).

I will have to say that having an EVF is handy as it does present you with a very close live view of the exposure. I am finding it very handy in situations like you describe.
 
i am not new to photography but shooting wild life on a dreary day is new to me. i get how the light meter works but its not often correct on cloudy days.

basically the only adjustments i am worried about would the metering and exposure comp, because flying birds you need 1/1000 or faster. i need to shoot at F/8 if i want the sharpest images out of the lens i am using, ISO set to auto is how i like it and so do most wild life photographers that i have talked do, when any of them tell me how they generally set up their camera its always about the same as i set mine as far as those 3 things go.

i shoot raw and i can fix my photos up in light room, but often the underexposed image get way to grainy when i have to slide the shadow slider all the way over to get good detail in the bird. i am pretty sure i will get better results when editing a photo that had a descent exposure compared to one that was underexposed and you cant see any detail in the animals..

this photo posted was all blown out with the tree and birds under exposed to where they almost looked like shadows, light room did a good job of fixing it up but it probably could have been a better photo if i had a proper exposure in the first place. still turned out descent but i am pretty sure it could have been better if i would have had the exposure comp set differently. i am really just trying to figure out the basics of using exposure comp on a cloudy day. i know its something i probably just need to play with. its just kind of frustrating when you get a good image, shoot something else and its not good at all. View attachment 110032



I guess I'm not really understanding your problem. The shot you provided looks as if it were taken on a cloudy, dreary day. You say the shot was taken on a cloudy, dreary day. Capturing what is in front of the photographer is pretty much what a camera is meant to do.

Yes, you can manipulate the image with software but, what exactly are you after? Do you want an image that has a close relationship to what you saw in reality? Or, do you want an image that looks like something you created in your computer without regard to reality?

What you are dealing with is extreme dynamic range. Maybe not as extreme as a clear, sunny day but still more DR than your camera can accommodate. That is a very simple and very conventional limitation to a digital camera. The camera cannot process what your brain perceives.

But, of course, you already know that.

You can use HDR techniques either in your camera or in your software. The former is less likely to be useful when shooting living creatures which do not care they are getting photographed. The latter is more successful but also more work.



If you are using matrix metering for that type of shot, yes, you are going to get an underexposed image. That would be consistent with how matrix or center weighted metering would see the scene. Spot metering would give you a different reading and subsequently a different setting but still might not be your best compromise.

"i get how the light meter works but its not often correct on cloudy days."

This strikes me as saying, "I don't know how the light meter works."

First, there is no "correct" metering for a "correct" exposure. There is only what is going to work for the scene you see in front of you and the scene you see in your head. Exposure is fungible.

It's rather obvious why the shot you posted was "all blown out with the tree and birds under exposed to where they almost looked like shadows". What is not obvious is whether or not you could have actually obtained a better exposure before you lost the opportunity.

That's a large part of the game you are committing to when you are doing wildlife photography. You are, in effect, hunting with your camera. Ask any hunter how many shots they've missed and you'll probably be surprised at their response.



I think what you are really asking is, how do I up my keeper rate?

Because, at times, you simply have to accept that some shots aren't going to be worth keeping. That's the game.

If you are discussing this with other nature photographers and you're all coming up with the same basic answers, then I would suggest you begin asking the other shooters what their keeper rate is?

If they say over 90%, I'd guess they aren't telling the truth or they are so selective they aren't taking many shots.

If they say less than 40%, they probably aren't worth much as advice givers.

If they say closer to 60% than 70%, then discuss their settings and their technique more in depth.

Also discuss their processing techniques. And, if appropriate, ask to see some of their results. It's fairly easy to talk about results.




If you're images are turning out "too grainy", you can do one of two things. Set your auto ISO limit to a lower maximum and realize some shots just aren't going to work. Or obtain some good noise reduction software for post processing.

Alternately, you can spend a good deal of money on a camera and lens combination with better light sensitivity and faster autofuocus; STOKES BIRDING BLOG: Canon SX 50 HS for Bird Photography: I love this camera!

"SX50 beats all my DSLRs"



I assume you are saying your shots are too grainy when viewed on your computer monitor. How much larger is that image than what you are printing? Personally, I probably wouldn't print the image you posted. Surely, you must have better results to print.

If you're judging your images only by what you see on your monitor, then you are probably too critical of what you see. Your printer - most printers - will not produce the resolution you see on your monitor. If you print, then you must take into account the size of your print and the viewing distance away from the print. If you are not printing, then reduce your image to an appropriate scale for an imagined print size.

How do your shots look at that size?
 
Last edited:
here is a example of the problem i am having. the light meter on the camera that is shown in my view finder with exposure comp at 0 tells me the photo is properly exposed.. and than i am getting photos like this..

DSC_1249-2.jpg



i can move the shadow slider in light room and make it look like this...

DSC_1249.jpg


using around plus 2 on my exposure comp got me this which was probably slightly too much but... i am just trying to figure out the guide lines for using the expousre comp to not have to guess about where it needs to be as much for this type of lightning, but i figure its probably going to be one of those things where you have to shoot a few shots in that spot and adjust it till you get what you are looking for. but maybe just maybe there is some sort of trick to getting it right the fist time with out needing to take a few shots..

on a more sunny day when the light meter in the view finder tells me i have the correct exposure i usually do, on cloudy days its a different story..


DSC_1261.jpg
 
Take a meter reading on a large clump of green leaves below the birds ... use that exposure.
If you take a reading of the bare branches with the sky, you can compare and figure out what the comp is.
 
^This.
You used spot metering so the meter is only using the center of the lens. If you metered on the leaves or the center of the bird you'd have gotten a little closer. If you are hitting the sky with the meter, you're going to get reading for the sky, not the birds.
 
i actually have the center focus point of the lens right on the bird when i am shooting it and the light meter is saying correct exposure.

there are not always leaves in every shot..

now these guys came out a bit over exposed and i cant quite get anything i really like in lightroom.. i get them to where i think not bad but not great either.
DSC_1350.jpg
DSC_1349.jpg
 
Those scenes are probably due to the lack of contrast between the birds and the background ... plus the direction of the light source.
 
i just change the temp to cool them down , the water is now a more clear looking instead of having a brownish tint and they seem to be a bit better now. so i think that helped with that issue.
 
You can get into reasons why etc, but generally I find I'm better adding +0.7 to +1 exp compensation when using the d7200 on a cloudy day. I'm normally on matrix metering
 
yeah, its probably something i am just gonna have to keep playing with..
 

Most reactions

Back
Top