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blw

Richmond, US
28709 posts

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blw Moderator Awarded for his high level of expertise in various areas Nikonian since 18th Jun 2004
Sun 11-Nov-12 08:49 AM

I have always been a bit skeptical of "auto exposure." (Recall that I've been around since before it came out.) Don't get me wrong, I use it a lot - probably 90% of my frames are done with some kind of auto exposure metering mode. But as people eventually discover, it is hardly foolproof, and in fact it often gives results that are not entirely expected. Probably the most typical example is the gross underexposure resulting from a shot in brilliantly lit snow or beautiful white sandy beaches, although gross overexposure of a groom's tuxedo may be a close second. I've learned to cope with the problem over the years.

But I have discovered recently that this innocent little button in Lightroom is VERY much better than most camera's auto exposure modes. Auto Tone, which is in the basic develop panel, seems to be VASTLY better at yielding an automagic rendering that is fairly close to what one saw. It's not perfect either, and of course the basic exposure has to be in the right general neighborhood. But it's very much worth a try. Obviously try to get it right in camera, but if it isn't perfect, try Auto Tone.

There's another enormous difference, too, of course. If you don't like Auto Tone's results (and on about one in eight times, I definitely do not), you can just type control-Z and the nasty bits go away. Not like the auto exposure and the shutter.

Auto Tone is not good at deciphering your intentions, though. If you have some specific goal in mind, especially if it's not a bit of a literal interpretation of what you saw, it doesn't usually go there. For example, it usually tries to render something like what it guesses was really there, and often it's right about that. But if you really mean to render a black and white with a low key bias, Auto Tone is highly unlikely to go in that direction. On the other hand, if you have that kind of idea in the beginning, you probably metered it that way manually to begin with, and Auto Tone isn't relevant anyway.

Give it a try. You might be pleasantly surprised at how much work it is not.

_____
Brian... a bicoastal Nikonian and Team Member

My gallery is online. Comments and critique welcomed any time!

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