Exposure: Right or Wrong

VidThreeNorth

No longer a newbie, moving up!
Joined
Oct 21, 2016
Messages
900
Reaction score
101
Can others edit my Photos
Photos NOT OK to edit
Back when I was taking monochrome pictures on film, I did my own developing and printing. At first, I treated exposure as a constant, defined by ISO (actually back then it was ASA, but it is essentially the same thing). The film box told me what ISO to use and I would target the correct exposure and develop it according to the instructions.

When I progressed I learned that actually exposure and development could be mutually adjusted to an extent, and would yield varying results. So exposure was a variable.

When I got to digital photography recently, at first I treated exposure like a constant, again treating ISO almost as a sacred thing.

Now, as I have progressed, again, I have found that I can vary it, and compensate in processing. So again, for me, exposure is a variable.

The point of exposure it to produce a resulting image. But part of what makes exposure a variable is the fact that my final target is also a variable. I might want a "high key" result (washed out and generally light), or I might want an image that is almost black. Usually, I want something in between. But usually I have a target result in mind.

"Right" or "wrong" exposure, is whatever exposure gets me the result I want, and what I want can change with my mood.

I have some thoughts about this, but if you have any thoughts about this, post away. This topic is vague at best, and I do not have specific plans for it.

Here is a clip that seems to imply things are getting too dark, at least in the video field:

"Why are modern films underexposed?",
Posted by "wolfcrow" on Dec 27, 2021, [length 6:19]
"
"
 

vintagesnaps

Been spending a lot of time on here!
Joined
Jan 13, 2013
Messages
8,894
Reaction score
2,919
Location
US
Can others edit my Photos
Photos NOT OK to edit
I haven't had a problem with current day films and exposure...

What I learned was to get a 'proper' exposure to start. Then go from that starting point and adjust from there.

Seems like a lot of people don't know or bother to learn how to do that. Take a half assed photo and fix it later... does that sound like a good technique for much of anything?? You learn basics til you know what you're doing then do your thing with whatever it is.
 
  • Like
Reactions: LWW

vintagesnaps

Been spending a lot of time on here!
Joined
Jan 13, 2013
Messages
8,894
Reaction score
2,919
Location
US
Can others edit my Photos
Photos NOT OK to edit
Well I don't know what cinematographers do...

Underexposing?? Way too cool/blue, don't they know how to adjust for that?? If not they shouldn't be getting paid for crap work... I mean, really!

These look like shooting in mixed light, window in the background, etc. If cinematographers or people with cameras don't know how to adjust how they're shooting for mixed light then they better learn! That's all I can say...

Wondered at first what this guy was selling, nothing on the site but a free offer. So Mr. Google found his studios, seems to be legit; more cinematography than photography, so maybe this has been a trend with that or a difference with today's films for cinema.

Can't see a reason for it shooting stills with a camera using film today. Although I think Fuji color is 'cooler' and Kodak is 'warmer' which I like better. Just preference I suppose.
 

mrca

No longer a newbie, moving up!
Joined
Mar 13, 2018
Messages
872
Reaction score
277
Can others edit my Photos
Photos NOT OK to edit
The zone system lets you place exposure where you want it. For film that is the opposite of digital since underexposure results in the negative, ie the opposite, density in negative area of shadow becomes clear with not detail, it is easy. Spot Meter the darkest shadow where you want detail, that would be zone III 2 stops darker than middle gray V the meter sees. For a cushion, place it in zone IV, one stop darker than the meter reading. Or you can chose a tone and place it where you want it on the scale.
 

Ysarex

Been spending a lot of time on here!
Joined
Nov 27, 2011
Messages
6,862
Reaction score
3,370
Location
St. Louis
Can others edit my Photos
Photos OK to edit
Back when I was taking monochrome pictures on film, I did my own developing and printing. At first, I treated exposure as a constant, defined by ISO (actually back then it was ASA, but it is essentially the same thing). The film box told me what ISO to use and I would target the correct exposure and develop it according to the instructions.

When I progressed I learned that actually exposure and development could be mutually adjusted to an extent, and would yield varying results. So exposure was a variable.

When I got to digital photography recently, at first I treated exposure like a constant, again treating ISO almost as a sacred thing.

Now, as I have progressed, again, I have found that I can vary it, and compensate in processing. So again, for me, exposure is a variable.

The point of exposure it to produce a resulting image. But part of what makes exposure a variable is the fact that my final target is also a variable. I might want a "high key" result (washed out and generally light), or I might want an image that is almost black. Usually, I want something in between. But usually I have a target result in mind.

"Right" or "wrong" exposure, is whatever exposure gets me the result I want, and what I want can change with my mood.

I have some thoughts about this, but if you have any thoughts about this, post away. This topic is vague at best, and I do not have specific plans for it.

Here is a clip that seems to imply things are getting too dark, at least in the video field:

"Why are modern films underexposed?",
Posted by "wolfcrow" on Dec 27, 2021, [length 6:19]
"
"
Film exposure and digital exposure are different.

Film exposure required us to consider and work with the film's response to exposure and development. The Zone system is founded on that simple fact: a film's density increase in response to exposure and development is non-linear. Increased development causes proportionally more density to build in areas of the film where there was more exposure as opposed to areas where there was less exposure.

The exposure we set on the camera had to take that into consideration. Many decades ago I learned film exposure. When digital showed up like so many others I tried to transfer what I knew using film over to digital. Then one day I kicked myself and figured it out. A digital sensor's response to exposure is strictly linear. Therefore exposure for digital is the easiest thing there is -- love digital.

A digital sensor has an exposure threshold -- the point where the sensor saturates and any additional exposure fails to record useful data. Until that point is reached more exposure of the sensor = better image quality IN ALL ASPECTS and less exposure = less image quality.

Therefore there is a best exposure for all digital photos that will maximize image quality = expose the sensor to capacity. So that's my one and only exposure goal for every photo I take with all of my cameras. I expose to fully utilize the capacity of the sensor for every photo. It's never been easier. Circumstances can intervene like subject motion and/or low light levels (I have three tripods). In such a case where an external circumstance prevents me from exposing the sensor to capacity my goal simply shifts to expose as much as circumstances allow.
 

mrca

No longer a newbie, moving up!
Joined
Mar 13, 2018
Messages
872
Reaction score
277
Can others edit my Photos
Photos NOT OK to edit
Film exposure and digital exposure are different.

Film exposure required us to consider and work with the film's response to exposure and development. The Zone system is founded on that simple fact: a film's density increase in response to exposure and development is non-linear. Increased development causes proportionally more density to build in areas of the film where there was more exposure as opposed to areas where there was less exposure.

The exposure we set on the camera had to take that into consideration. Many decades ago I learned film exposure. When digital showed up like so many others I tried to transfer what I knew using film over to digital. Then one day I kicked myself and figured it out. A digital sensor's response to exposure is strictly linear. Therefore exposure for digital is the easiest thing there is -- love digital.

A digital sensor has an exposure threshold -- the point where the sensor saturates and any additional exposure fails to record useful data. Until that point is reached more exposure of the sensor = better image quality IN ALL ASPECTS and less exposure = less image quality.

Therefore there is a best exposure for all digital photos that will maximize image quality = expose the sensor to capacity. So that's my one and only exposure goal for every photo I take with all of my cameras. I expose to fully utilize the capacity of the sensor for every photo. It's never been easier. Circumstances can intervene like subject motion and/or low light levels (I have three tripods). In such a case where an external circumstance prevents me from exposing the sensor to capacity my goal simply shifts to expose as much as circumstances allow.
My light meter is calibrated to the actual clipping points of the sensor in my camera. It enables me with digital to push the histogram as far to the right as possiible and still have information to pull back. That moves the shadows as far to the right as possible. With digital trying to recover shadows can generate noise but darkening them does not. With negative film, the shadows have little density on the negative because when printed, it reverses it to shadows. If you under expose you may have clear acetate and nothing to pull back. The opposite is true for digital, if you clip highlights there is no information there to pull back. How you expose depends on where you intend to place tones. Or with digital, you can just bracket and run hdr. With film you can bracket exposures, scan then do the same. But at $3.20 per shot for MF and $8 for 4x5, bracketing is no longer free.
 

webestang64

Been spending a lot of time on here!
Joined
May 15, 2013
Messages
2,425
Reaction score
1,390
Location
St. Louis, MO. USA
Can others edit my Photos
Photos NOT OK to edit
Funny, I do not think about exposure. I mean, I think about it but don't dwell on it. I just know my films and cameras so well it's a second nature to me. And 100% of the film I still shoot is not "box rated".
 

mrca

No longer a newbie, moving up!
Joined
Mar 13, 2018
Messages
872
Reaction score
277
Can others edit my Photos
Photos NOT OK to edit
Funny, I do not think about exposure. I mean, I think about it but don't dwell on it. I just know my films and cameras so well it's a second nature to me. And 100% of the film I still shoot is not "box rated".
Exactly, most film is optomistically rated. I shoot 3200 at 1600 and it's probably closer to 1200. With film, it has so much latitude for example, hp5 has been tested shot 4 stops over exposed and it is nearly identical to correct exposure. Try that with digital, and you get a white rectangle. It's how I get a pure white background, make sure I light it 4 stops over subject incident.
 

Ysarex

Been spending a lot of time on here!
Joined
Nov 27, 2011
Messages
6,862
Reaction score
3,370
Location
St. Louis
Can others edit my Photos
Photos OK to edit
My light meter is calibrated to the actual clipping points of the sensor in my camera. It enables me with digital to push the histogram as far to the right as possiible and still have information to pull back. That moves the shadows as far to the right as possible. With digital trying to recover shadows can generate noise but darkening them does not. With negative film, the shadows have little density on the negative because when printed, it reverses it to shadows. If you under expose you may have clear acetate and nothing to pull back. The opposite is true for digital, if you clip highlights there is no information there to pull back. How you expose depends on where you intend to place tones.
Brightest diffuse highlight placed at the sensor saturation threshold and click the shutter, and that's a period -- every photo, every camera, same exposure. I love digital it's so easy.
Or with digital, you can just bracket and run hdr. With film you can bracket exposures, scan then do the same. But at $3.20 per shot for MF and $8 for 4x5, bracketing is no longer free.
 

Ysarex

Been spending a lot of time on here!
Joined
Nov 27, 2011
Messages
6,862
Reaction score
3,370
Location
St. Louis
Can others edit my Photos
Photos OK to edit
What do you mean? How do you do that?
Same exposure goal for every photo and every camera -- utilize the sensor to capacity. I want to be able to retain detail and color in the brightest diffuse highlight in my subject and to then fully utilize the sensor I want that brightest diffuse highlight to record at the sensor's saturation threshold -- any more exposure and that highlight would clip the sensor while any less exposure would fail to fully utilize the sensor. That's the exposure I want then for every photo I take. Below is a recent example. I exposed the sensor as much as possible to retain diffuse highlight detail and no less than it's full capacity. That gives me best possible IQ in my final image.

In practice my camera's are all mirrorless now so I use the live-view highlight warnings in the cameras (blinkies) -- basically it's a brightest highlight spot meter. There's a couple quirks. 1. Most camera highlight warnings won't come on unless two channels in the JPEG simulation are clipped so you have to pay attention to that. 2. The JPEG simulation is not faithful to the raw file data and you have to either make it faithful to the raw data or learn to handle that discrepancy. I chose the make it faithful option. Below the screen shot from Raw Digger is the camera JPEG for that photo. It's green because I keep the camera WB set to unity which is what makes the JPEG simulation match up with the raw data. Below that is my photo.

Note in the RawDigger data the exposure was taken with an EC of +1.3. When I take the photo I use the EC to increase exposure until the highlight clipping warning comes on for the brightest diffuse highlight and then back down .3 EC till it goes off -- click and that's the best possible exposure -- too easy.

sensor-capacity.jpg


DSCF4104.jpg


apple-blossoms.jpg
 

mrca

No longer a newbie, moving up!
Joined
Mar 13, 2018
Messages
872
Reaction score
277
Can others edit my Photos
Photos NOT OK to edit
Lots of ways to skin the exposure cat. Many degrees of precision or crafting. Since I have 7 rolls of film in progress, many on cameras without a meter or battery, I use a hand held meter or cell phone app for them. In studio, I meter each of 7 lights individually, 6 with an incident meter, the background, from my stool with a reflective meter. I can't afford to miss an exposure on the most important photo of the shoot so I don't have the luxury of not carefully metering...it's just a numerical reading yes, with my creative input on things like ratios or camera f stop, then I can get on with the real purpose, getting a great shot. Determining exposure is a pretty basic operation. But the numbers folks like to make a big deal about it. It's less about numbers and more about artistic interpretation. Ansel crafted his images by placing the tones within his images. In non lit run and gun portraits, I use an adaptation of the zone system, I spot focus and meter just below the eye. Since caucasian skin is about 1 stop brighter than zone V, I brighten it 1 stop with shutter or iso, since I often have a desired aperture. I then let the rest fall where it may. But that requires placing subject in an area within the sensor dynamic range. The d850 has a fantastic dynamic range. In those situations, sky blowing out is not as important as getting the shot.
 

vintagesnaps

Been spending a lot of time on here!
Joined
Jan 13, 2013
Messages
8,894
Reaction score
2,919
Location
US
Can others edit my Photos
Photos NOT OK to edit
Scotty, you're so experienced you probably don't have to consciously have to think much about it, you just do it.

Exposure when shooting film isn't hard; like many things it takes learning and practice.

No, I don't bracket a lot; with B&W 3 different exposures varying it a stop both ways usually is plenty. I'm just going for a negative that's not too dense (although I can zap more light thru it and get something but don't want to waste time), and definitely not too thin or there's not enough there to work with.
 

AlanKlein

Been spending a lot of time on here!
Joined
Nov 24, 2011
Messages
1,908
Reaction score
656
Location
NJ formerly NYC
Website
www.flickr.com
Same exposure goal for every photo and every camera -- utilize the sensor to capacity. I want to be able to retain detail and color in the brightest diffuse highlight in my subject and to then fully utilize the sensor I want that brightest diffuse highlight to record at the sensor's saturation threshold -- any more exposure and that highlight would clip the sensor while any less exposure would fail to fully utilize the sensor. That's the exposure I want then for every photo I take. Below is a recent example. I exposed the sensor as much as possible to retain diffuse highlight detail and no less than it's full capacity. That gives me best possible IQ in my final image.

In practice my camera's are all mirrorless now so I use the live-view highlight warnings in the cameras (blinkies) -- basically it's a brightest highlight spot meter. There's a couple quirks. 1. Most camera highlight warnings won't come on unless two channels in the JPEG simulation are clipped so you have to pay attention to that. 2. The JPEG simulation is not faithful to the raw file data and you have to either make it faithful to the raw data or learn to handle that discrepancy. I chose the make it faithful option. Below the screen shot from Raw Digger is the camera JPEG for that photo. It's green because I keep the camera WB set to unity which is what makes the JPEG simulation match up with the raw data. Below that is my photo.

Note in the RawDigger data the exposure was taken with an EC of +1.3. When I take the photo I use the EC to increase exposure until the highlight clipping warning comes on for the brightest diffuse highlight and then back down .3 EC till it goes off -- click and that's the best possible exposure -- too easy.

View attachment 256646

View attachment 256647

View attachment 256649
Thanks for that explanation. I'm using my micro 4/3 camera as a light meter when shooting film. Since the blinkies and histogram range don't match the film exactly, I adjust to what looks good in the digital screen and make sure I';m not clipping at either end. Then, if I'm shooting chromes, I'll lower the setting 1/2 a stop on the film camera and if shooting BW film, raise the exposure 1/2 stop.

It's still a work in progress. Any suggestions?
 

Ysarex

Been spending a lot of time on here!
Joined
Nov 27, 2011
Messages
6,862
Reaction score
3,370
Location
St. Louis
Can others edit my Photos
Photos OK to edit
Thanks for that explanation. I'm using my micro 4/3 camera as a light meter when shooting film. Since the blinkies and histogram range don't match the film exactly, I adjust to what looks good in the digital screen and make sure I';m not clipping at either end.
That's not necessarily possible. If the scene dynamic range is wide enough then adjusting the histogram so the highlights aren't clipped forces you to clip on the other end. Shooting chromes you have to place priority on highlights so that choosing between two evils; 1. clear hole in the film where a cloud should have been versus 2. solid black blob where you know there was a park bench in the scene #1 is the greater evil. But that's still the problem with chromes; when the scene dynamic range is too great (an it often is) then fix the lighting to reduce contrast or seriously consider walking away because there is no fix.

If you're printing the B&W negs yourself then I'd concentrate on the highlight blinkies as a functional brightest-highlight spot meter and run tests to determine a correction factor for the film I was using, but that would amount to setting and exposure for B&W film based on a brightest highlight reading -- you really want to get a shadow reading as well of B&W negs. Another option would be to again run tests for a correction factor using the spot meter function of the camera (depends on what the camera provides) and that would permit you to meter both highlights and shadows to assess the scene DR.
Then, if I'm shooting chromes, I'll lower the setting 1/2 a stop on the film camera and if shooting BW film, raise the exposure 1/2 stop.

It's still a work in progress. Any suggestions?
 

Most reactions

ClickASnap

New Topics

Top