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TPF Noob!
Oct 24, 2007
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Hi Everybody,

We have been having a lot of fun with our Nikon D80. We are getting familiar with the operation of the camera. But I am still a bit confused by exposure and metering.

I shoot mostly in aperture priority mode so I can control the depth of field for the mostly landscape type photos we take. I have played around with the metering modes and usually use the zone metering mode.

I think the photos are quite often a bit overexposed. Take a look at the photos here. I think the second one is the best. Its using exposure compensation of 1 step (0.33EV). (the first has no compensation and the 3rd has 2 steps).


Now I have a few questions:

1.) Is the second photo the best of them in terms of exposure?

2.) How do you measure this when you are taking the photos. I doubt the LCD on my camera is really the right way to assess it. Is it a matter of familiarity with the camera? My camera has a histogram mode, which suggests that the first one is closest to the center (I think).

3.) My camera has a mode which highlights really overexposed areas graphically after the photo is taken. Is it worth it or should I know already what I'm doing?

4.) Which kind of metering is best for this kind of photo. I can understand if I am shooting a person (or some other clear target) then I could use spot metering and lock the metering settings on them. But this photo really requires a nice mean setting for everything. (or is the problem that I don't have more of a subject in the first place)

5.) How many photos of a subject like this would people take? (I took 3).


PS. Yes, I do plan to get the book "Understanding Exposure"!
I had a d80 for a while and I agree with you than in Matrix metering it tended to overexpose a bit. One tool that is handy is the histogram, it will show you how the pixel brightness is distributed. For landscapes you might try centre weighted metering and lock you exposure on the feature that is closest to an 18% grey card. Also, if you shoot in raw you have somewhat more flexibility with exposure recovery when post processing, especially so if you are underexposed a bit.

Continue experimenting and have fun.
The first picture you linked to is a bit overexposed for my taste, but that's just personal preference. The sky is blown out because the dynamic range exceeds the medium.

Understanding exposure is a good book, and it should help you get a handle on this. Understanding what the meter is telling you and adjusting the settings to take the picture YOU want to take is what you need to learn.

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