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km6xz

St Petersburg, RU
3394 posts

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"RE: shooting at -2/3 EV"

km6xz Moderator Awarded for his in-depth knowledge in various areas, including Portraits and Urban Photography Nikonian since 22nd Jan 2009
Mon 14-Jan-13 02:30 PM

So much depends on the scene, that a set rule is bound to lead to problems. What metering mode, what is it biased for, and where is the active focal point?
A meter has to have some reference to compare to, and the standard is the mid point between highest tones and fully black, which is about 18% grey. That is what the camera sees as properly balanced between highest tones and pure black, so that is what the meter says is proper exposure. For many scenes it is. But looking at the scene with your eye, you can see if there is a bias for one end of the spectrum of light level, you know the camera will lead you astray in a predictable amount.
For example take an shot of a bright beach, reflective water, bright blue sky. Well, looking at it you are going to assume the camera is going to try to under expose it so it can reach the 18% grey mid tone. It is going to be underexposed, you know it, so you dial in some +EC, maybe 1-2 ev and the image turns out over exposed according to the camera's sensibilities but it looks great with the white or light sand white or bright.
Take a photo of a man in a black suit as the dominate element in the scene. It comes out looking grey, not black. But that would be the assumption if you keep in mind the camera is seeking to center between the extremes. So you intentionally underexpose the next frame by an ev or two and find the black suit has returned and given up its "greyness".
Ever notice how dull and lifeless your photos of your ski trip were? The snow was a dingy grey in the prints. That is the meter trying to find balance in an unbalanced world, so everything was underexposed.
With a little practice and stopping to look at the scene before putting the camera to your eye will tell you how you will need to trick the camera's meter into giving what you want instead of what it measures. You dial in a little +EC and the white snowy world comes out bright white just as your eye saw it.
It is doing this as a very good thing, it knows your camera and media for display can't handle the full dynamic range of the scene, any scene so it tries to center the window of DR that it can handle in the middle of the range of the scene. For average scenes, that works very well. But it is surprising how many scenes are not average, the average scene is not average:>)
The foregoing comments did not consider the mode of metering: spot, center-weighted and matrix. They are all used to your advantage when knowing which will allow you to get your desired results. Matrix is surprisingly smart and is suitable for most shooting but there are times when the scene or the specific subject would benefit from metering only on the subject as in the tight 1% of the frame under your active focal point. That can allow backgrounds to be badly exposed but your desired subject will be spot on most of the time. Center weighted considers the entire frame but gives a strong bias to the area under the selected focal point. Matrix considers the whole scene, its colors and contrast and distance information if supplied by the lens.
So, for these reasons, setting a fixed bias might be making things worse and often increased noise and limits DR. Consider the scene before deciding whether to dial in compensation, but only do it for a reason that relates to the scene in front of you.
Stan
St Petersburg Russia

Visit my Nikonians gallery.

A topic tagged as having a question shooting at -2/3 EV [View all] , dosrios , Thu 03-Jan-13 04:35 PM
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