Posts tagged “Photography

A Crow and a Seventh Article on Exposure (Two Photographs)

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The second of the two photographs is out of camera. I under exposed the photos by accident. Such is the flexibility of Lightroom that with ample applications of exposure and contrast one can get the kind of result you see in the first photo. It is a case where I should have taken different exposures, one for the crow and one for the background and melded the two. P.S. I think the bird is giving me the finger, so maybe this shot was cursed from the start.

Exposure compensation is a tool on a camera to fool the camera’s light meter to over or under expose. Under exposure helps get rid of blown out bits in your scene, where there is no detail only white. Under exposure helps because your camera is trying to measure 18% grey, and wedding gowns, snow etc go grey or blue unless significantly under exposed (e.g. minus 2). The idea is that as one gets more practiced we use test shots to get a general sense of the exposure and set exposure compensation to adjust as we go along. Exposure compensation is usually set at smaller increments than is possible by changing any other variable, aperture, ISO, and shutter speed. It’s something that I use all the time, and have to be careful to readjust it back after shooting in challenging situations.

Daft Flowers and a Sixth Article on Exposure (Three Photographs)

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Sometimes you want your backgrounds a bit blown out, and I think without a bit of this these daft flowers would not be as interesting.

Most cameras provide a means to look at a histogram of the scene. Mirror-less cameras and cameras with electronic view finders (EVF) can put this in the view finder. On a DSLR most often you only get to see the histogram in review mode. Tests shots help you select the best exposure in circumstances where you might not be able to chimp (review your shots on the back LCD). You could shoot in live view (something I very rarely use outdoors but can be useful to judge exposure). Most experts will tell you that the histogram is one of the better tools. If the histogram shows a line going up the right hand side, something is under exposed, and on the left it means its too bright no detail. Ideally we are told a bell curve, where the line touches each wall and rises toward the top in the middle is the best histogram. Unfortunately a perfect bell curve is rare and while the histogram is illustrating the light from darker to lightest, the middle ground can be harder to interpret. While the blinkies (see previous post) will alert you to burnt out highlights, the histogram is great for seeing under exposure in the shadows.

Wood Ducks and a Fifth Article on Exposure (Two Photographs)

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I cannot resist the wood ducks against this background.

In challenging lighting conditions taking test shots can be very useful. They allow us to check two things with respect to exposure: the blinkies and the histogram. Most cameras today have one or the other or both. Blinkies, otherwise known as the highlight warnings can be seen on the review screen on the back of the camera. They show the bright parts in the photo that are burnt out. Blinking indicates those parts are way over exposed. Not all blinkies are bad, some things like the sun may always be a bit overexposed. This one tool can help solve a lot of problems, usually with a simple exposure compensation adjustment. I will talk about exposure compensation in a later article, but next the histogram. By the way, a recent update to the Fuji XT-2 puts the blinkies in the viewfinder, now that’s progress!

Landscape and Fourth Article on Exposure (Three Photographs)

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Some fall shots I took before things turned bleak.

If your camera is in auto mode (P mode), the camera choses shutter and aperture and possibly ISO. Using any other mode we have greater control over exposure. As noted in a previous post the camera is not a perfect light meter but it does have some tools we can use, I mentioned the different metering options like spot and centre-weighted.  Spot metering is useful to get a reading off of heavily backlit subjects, and to ensure the subject is properly exposed. It also risks blowing out the background (over brightening or losing all detail). Centre-weighted metering is also good for back-lit subjects and can help avoid blown out backgrounds. The whole area mode in modern cameras uses a computer to judge the scene and give you the best advice. Because every camera is different you need to try these options for yourself. Try lots of different light situations and subjects and you will have a good idea of what works for you.On my Nikon I use the general and spot most often, and very infrequently centre-weighted.

A Woodpecker and a Third Article on Exposure (Three Photographs)

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These shots of a pileated woodpecker were challenging. I was lucky with shot one, its pretty much out of the camera with sharpening and noise reduction added. The latter two were more challenging, they show the starting point of my processing and the end result. The editing tools used here were luminosity, levels adjustment etc., but I think its helpful to visualize the kind of challenges that I am referring to in these posts on exposure.

Getting a good exposure can be helped by a few simple considerations. Your shutter speed for example should be fast enough to avoid shake and capture the speed of your subject. Most of us cannot easily hold a DSLR below 1/60th of a second and get shake free photos. The length of your lens should dictate the shutter speed; 300mm means a minimum 1/300th of a second (on a cropped sensor 1/450 or 1.5 the length of the lens). Birds, car races etc., require much higher shutter speeds to capture motionover a thousandth of a second.If your camera has one, use the aperture preview button to see what will be focus. Lastly you want to keep your ISO as low as possible, high ISOs may mean noise (and on some cameras colour density changes). Having said all of this we have not taken into account the range of light nor the nature of the lighting of the subject. More to come.

Some Flowers and Second Article on Exposure (Two Photographs)

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These are some random flower shots I took with my macro lens testing the metering on my camera.

Cameras read reflected light from the scene you are shooting. In the days of manual only cameras, you had a handheld exposure meter that could measure reflected and incident lighting. Incident lighting is taken from the subject’s point of view and measures the light hitting the subject. Reflected light captures all light coming at the lens, not just the subject. Clearly, incident lighting is more exact for the subject and reflected lighting more realistic for the entire scene. That is why DSLRs have spot, centre-weighted and a whole frame exposure mode.These modes enable us to narrow the area being measured. Secondly, modern DSLRs do not have the capability of capturing as wide a range of light as say print film had, but that is improving with every new model. Just as higher ISOs are increasingly noise free. When you take in the variables of ISO, aperture and shutter speed and you take into account the limitations of the camera you can see why exposure can be tricky.

Wood Ducks and Some Thoughts on Exposure

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Wood ducks in the fall, I cannot resist the colours. A few posts back I wrote about aperture because I had read it is the hardest thing for people to understand in photography. In my view, Exposure is equally complicated to get right and deserves a few posts of its own. Exposure can be defined as the light as captured by the camera created by balance of aperture, shutter speed and ISO. So what is a correct exposure, one where the aperture provides the desired depth of field, the shutter speed avoids shake and softness and the ISO makes the result as bright as the original scene without including any noise? That’s a whole of lot of variables. One photographer wrote that correct exposure is in the eye of the photographer. I am going to continue this discussion over the next few posts, starting with ways to set exposure.