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Thread: Why Your Camera's Meter Does Not Matter... Lots on Exposure

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    Publisher Arthur Morris's Avatar
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    Default Why Your Camera's Meter Does Not Matter... Lots on Exposure

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    I was in Katmai SEPT 4-10 on my fifth trip there to photograph coastal Brown Bear. The challenge for me was to create some different, new, and fresh images. When this bear caught a fish, walked directly towards me, and stopped 23 feet four inches away to consume its prey, I had my chance to create a unique image.

    At 650mm effective focal lenght I was so close that I was confused at first as to what to do. I was working in horizontal format so when I noticed the eye of the pink salmon peeking through the bear's claws so I selected the lower-most sensor and made a few images before switching to VERT format.

    Canon 500mm f/4L IS lens with the EOS-Mark III. ISO 800. Manual metering +1 2/3 stops off the river: 1/320 sec. at f/4.

    Don't be shy; all comments welcome.
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  2. #2
    DanWalters
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    Very unique image. Really like the color and the detail. The eye of the fish is a nice bonus.

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    Pretty macabre image. How did you know he was 23' 4" from you:)

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    I love this one. A unusual perspective. But it tells the story effectively. Without the eye within the claws, the picture would not have had the impact. I love this composition. Can you explain the reasoning for the metering please. Thanks for sharing.

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    Robert Amoruso
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    I agree with Sabyasachi on the eye making the image which I am sure was the focal point or center or interest for Artie.

    Sabyasachi,

    The exposure was chosen at +1 2/3 stops off the water because the meter is calibrated to middle gray (18% gray). THe water looks bright in this image and I would estimate it is about 2 stops brighter then middle gray, so Artie is basing his exposure off metering the water which he knows should be a certain tonality brighter then middle gray.

    I would have started with 2 stops brighter, taken a couple of images and then fine tuned the exposure which is probably what he did here.

  6. #6
    Jonathan Michael Ashton
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    I like it - you have achieved an unusual shot.
    Artie could you please tell me on this particular shot I would have guessed that there would be as much dark as light areas in the frame - well approximately, so I would have just left the camera on evaluative metering and time permitting check the histogram. I often use evaluative in the manner you do especially birds against the sky etc, but this shot - why did you use the water as your baseline? .........Or was it a case of having previously set the camera this was the quickest way of getting the exposure correct
    Jon

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    This shot is very refreshing on several levels. Its very graphic with the reds just popping off the screen while showcasing the bear claws. The one thing that stands out as needing a small improvement is the deep shadows which are hiding a lot of detail, but that is only minor. It looks like you had a great time up in Katmai. -Susan

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    Vincent Grafhorst
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    I love these kind of close up images and this is a very strong one symbolizing the relation between hunter and hunted, life and death, emphasized even more so by the blood. Exposure is also perfect. My only small nit is the small stone that obstructs the one nail, but that was entirely out of your control.

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    Publisher Arthur Morris's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jackie Schuknecht View Post
    Pretty macabre image. How did you know he was 23' 4" from you:)
    Hi Jackie, The EXIF showed distance to subject = 7.1 meters. I went to Google and converted that to 23' 4" :) :) :)
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    Jon wrote: Artie could you please tell me on this particular shot I would have guessed that there would be as much dark as light areas in the frame - well approximately, so I would have just left the camera on evaluative metering and time permitting check the histogram. I often use evaluative in the manner you do especially birds against the sky etc, but this shot - why did you use the water as your baseline? .........Or was it a case of having previously set the camera this was the quickest way of getting the exposure correct?

    and Sabya asked: I love this composition. Can you explain the reasoning for the metering please?

    Thanks to Robert Amoruso for his explanation above. I have a bit to add. When photographing bears in relatively constant light, it is best to determine the very best exposure for the bear and set it manually so that it does not matter if the bear is small in the frame or huge in the frame. Once you know the right EXP for the bear and have set it manually the size and position of the black fur in the frame will not affect your exposure as it would if you were in an automatic exposure mode.

    In the case I metered the water, added 1 2/3 stops, made one image of the bear, and saw that the histgram was perfect. Now, here is the key: as the bear was walking towards me with a fish that had some bright silver on it I simply increased my shutter speed by 1/3 stop and fired away, confident that I would not blow the highlights. The fact that I chose to meter off the water is pretty much irrelevant. Some days I metered the green grasses on the banks and added two-thirds stop. That also yeilded a perfect histogram. How did I know what to do for each? I have a thorough understanding of exposure theory. That and 25 years of experience :) :D :) To learn exposure theory, get yourself a copy of the original ABP; we will have them in stock in about two weeks. To learn digital exposure simplified and understanding histograms, try a copy of ABP II :)
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  11. #11
    ChasMcRae
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    Hi Art,
    Half the image is dark and half is light ! Just wondering if the old (may still be in the Nikon line) Nikon F5 metering would have done. Bet you it would be in the ball park enough to work with. The Canon auto meter system maby not as good ,but thats another thread.

    My point -do not pass up an active image to worry about exposure. Shoot on Av -Matrix (heavens forbid shoot Program)and then fiddle(THINK) about fine tuning. I like to shoot small birds and almost impossible to always think ahead.

    I see photographers worrying about exposure and missing action. Also my other observation is photographers wowing over their last exposures on the back screen and again missing action.

    Free thoughts worth about the same.

    Take care
    Chas.

  12. #12
    ChasMcRae
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    Oh Art,

    Great image and ability to make a no image into one that tells a story.

    Chas.

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    Hi Chas,

    re:

    Half the image is dark and half is light !

    Agree.

    Just wondering if the old (may still be in the Nikon line) Nikon F5 metering would have done. Bet you it would be in the ball park enough to work with. The Canon auto meter system maby not as good ,but thats another thread.

    I am not sure where you are trying to go with the above comments. With digital, all that matters is that one knows how to evaluate and adjust the histogram and have a good idea of what their camara's meter is doing. If there was a way to determine the camera with the best meter in the world and you gave it to someone who
    1-did not have a good understanding of exposure theory
    2-did not know how to evaluate and adjust the histogram
    3-did not know the camera's tenedencies in various lighting situations

    then they would come up with the wrong exposure more than 75% of the time.

    My point -do not pass up an active image to worry about exposure. Shoot on Av -Matrix (heavens forbid shoot Program)and then fiddle(THINK) about fine tuning. I like to shoot small birds and almost impossible to always think ahead.

    If I had created this image in Av there is a good chance that the silver highlights might have been irretrievably burned so I do disagree with your advice.

    I see photographers worrying about exposure and missing action.

    Good photographers who have a good understanding of exposure theory, the tendencies of their camera's meter, and know how to evaluate and adjust the histogram can react almost instantly and can come up with a workable (if not perfect) exposure most all the time (as I did with this image).

    Also my other observation is photographers wowing over their last exposures on the back screen and again missing action.

    Well, that is not a good plan so we agree there. But Todd Gustafson, who is a superb photographer, seems to spend half of his time in the field squinting at his images...

    Free thoughts worth about the same.

    Done. If you were suggesting above that the darks were too dark, I offer the repost.
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    Artie - Where in the EXIF data does it show distance to subject? I am using a 1DMIII and 500 mm lens. Can't find it in PS EXIF data... Probably a bozo question. ;o)

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    ChasMcRae
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    Thanks for the comments Art, because I know you are an expert exposure person even in the old days.
    Yep I look also, but my comments were directed toward new photographers> Certainly must learn basics of exposure ,but not overdo "noodling". Perhaps some people can do it ,but I find myself missing shots when I "over noodle". I wonder if Todd is so attuned to the wildlife rhythem that he is able to be adapt at looking at his screen a lot.

    I certainly have learned a lot in quicker time about digital by posting and getting feedback than ever before. Sometimes however I feel foolish when I look back at a posting and see an obvious "no no".

    Chas.

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    BPN Viewer Charles Glatzer's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Robert Amoruso View Post
    I agree with Sabyasachi on the eye making the image which I am sure was the focal point or center or interest for Artie.

    Sabyasachi,

    The exposure was chosen at +1 2/3 stops off the water because the meter is calibrated to middle gray (18% gray). THe water looks bright in this image and I would estimate it is about 2 stops brighter then middle gray, so Artie is basing his exposure off metering the water which he knows should be a certain tonality brighter then middle gray.

    I would have started with 2 stops brighter, taken a couple of images and then fine tuned the exposure which is probably what he did here.

    It is important to note (not mentioned in tech info) that the exposure taken off the water was based on the use of the Evaluative Meter Pattern which tends to somewhat average out tonal values within the field of view.

    I find water typically not a good choice to determine exposure/comp regardless of the pattern in use, as the fluctuating reflective values make a base line difficult to obtain.

    An element with a consistent tone used as a reference value in the same light as the subject is usually more beneficial... such as a grassy area.

    Note, if you determine the exposure via substitue metering it is important to maintain the original focal length, viewpoint, and with Eval the same camera orientation when re-evaluating the scene in changing light... If this is not done your compensation will more than likely have to be adjusted to obtain the correct exposure.

    Best,

    Chas
    Last edited by Charles Glatzer; 07-29-2009 at 07:03 PM.

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