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FORUMS Photography Talk by Genre General Photography Talk 
Thread started 17 Jul 2010 (Saturday) 10:10
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taking photographs outside in manual mode

 
jeljohns
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Jul 17, 2010 10:10 |  #1

Hi,

I'm a little confused as to how to shoot and meter in manual outside. The light changes so much from one inch to the next. I might point my camera at an area of bright sun, but if I turn slightly left or right I might be pointing at a darker tree.

My question is, since the meter goes nuts from one inch to the next, how do you get proper consistent exposure outside. I tend to shoot moving objects like kids and pets. They don't sit in the same spot the entire time.

I have heard of using Av mode outside, but I find that my exposure is always WAY off and not where I would prefer it when I try this.

I would like to stick with manual, but do I have to be constantly changing my settings? I miss a lot of shots that way.




  
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mike_d
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Jul 17, 2010 10:47 |  #2

If the light truly changes as you move your camera, and not just the reflectivity of what's in frame, then you'll have to change your exposure. Manual mode is good when the light is constant and you don't want the light meter being fooled by the subject. The classic example is a wedding where the camera might underexpose the bride's white dress, then a moment later overexpose the groom's tux, even though the light hasn't changed and the exposure shouldn't either.

When you say the exposure is always way off in AV mode, what do you mean exactly? What metering mode are you using? Can you post some examples? I find that AV mode usually does a pretty good job, unless the scene is dominated by white or black which it will want to under or over expose. But knowing that, you can dial in some exposure compensation when you see a scene like that.




  
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tracknut
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Jul 17, 2010 12:16 |  #3

I think Mike's on the right path with the metering question. I shoot dogs all the time, and my experience is that AV is "safer" in the sense that it'll do a decent job of metering and getting the shot, but if I can shoot in consistent light, I always use manual because it will be right on the money. But you're describing AV as "always WAY off" doesn't add up (for me) unless you've done something with metering that isn't consistent with the results you're looking for.

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jeljohns
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Jul 17, 2010 13:14 as a reply to  @ tracknut's post |  #4

I may be using the wrong term when I say "changing light".

Here is an outside example: On a sunny day in my backyard most of the yard is in bright sunlight, but there are trees. My subject may be in direct sunlight, but if they take one big step to the right they are in shade. If they take a step to the left they are in front of a white garage. In these instances my meter goes nuts. The readings are all over the place. So I think that I am not metering correctly. When shooting in manual what is the best way to choose your settings when you are pointing your camera to differently lit things? The light is actually not changing, it's still a sunny day. Do I have to change my settings every time the subject moves? I feel like I am constantly trying to chase the correct exposure and in that time I'm missing good shots.

Inside example: In an antique store I shot recently. The store was lit by lamps so it was very dark. The light cast on things was different depending on how near or far it was from one of those lamps. Again, the actual light in the store stays the same, but the meter readings are different depending on what my camera is pointing at.

Does this make sense? It's a little tricky to describe.

When my camera is in AV mode a lot of the pictures or too dark or too light, and usually the shutter speed goes waaaaay down and I get blurry pictures. I like to have more control in M.




  
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tracknut
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Jul 17, 2010 13:32 |  #5

jeljohns wrote in post #10553964 (external link)
I may be using the wrong term when I say "changing light".

Here is an outside example: On a sunny day in my backyard most of the yard is in bright sunlight, but there are trees. My subject may be in direct sunlight, but if they take one big step to the right they are in shade. If they take a step to the left they are in front of a white garage. In these instances my meter goes nuts. The readings are all over the place. So I think that I am not metering correctly. When shooting in manual what is the best way to choose your settings when you are pointing your camera to differently lit things? The light is actually not changing, it's still a sunny day. Do I have to change my settings every time the subject moves? I feel like I am constantly trying to chase the correct exposure and in that time I'm missing good shots.

Inside example: In an antique store I shot recently. The store was lit by lamps so it was very dark. The light cast on things was different depending on how near or far it was from one of those lamps. Again, the actual light in the store stays the same, but the meter readings are different depending on what my camera is pointing at.

Does this make sense? It's a little tricky to describe.

Yes, and all that sounds completely normal. You've got subjects in dramatically different light, and in Manual mode, you need to set all the settings yourself. Works fine for the interior shot of an antique, but impossible if you're outdoors shooting your kid or a dog running around.

When my camera is in AV mode a lot of the pictures or too dark or too light, and usually the shutter speed goes waaaaay down and I get blurry pictures. I like to have more control in M.

Hence the question about what metering mode you're using ("too dark or too light" doesn't make sense. "18% gray within the bounds of the camera's metering mode" is what it's trying to do). But certainly if your shutter speed is dropping too far, you have you ISO too low for the situation.

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jeljohns
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Jul 17, 2010 13:47 as a reply to  @ tracknut's post |  #6

So AV for moving subjects....because even though the light doesn't actually "change" the light hitting the subject does. Correct? I'm just trying to make sure I understand correctly.

So far metering is the hardest thing for me to master. I'm just not getting the hang of it.

For metering mode I have been using evaluative.




  
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JeffreyG
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Jul 17, 2010 14:06 |  #7

jeljohns wrote in post #10553964 (external link)
I may be using the wrong term when I say "changing light".

Here is an outside example: On a sunny day in my backyard most of the yard is in bright sunlight, but there are trees. My subject may be in direct sunlight, but if they take one big step to the right they are in shade. If they take a step to the left they are in front of a white garage. In these instances my meter goes nuts.

What you just described really only has two light levels - in the sun and in the shade. If you meter for these two conditions and swap back and forth as needed then you are all set.

The last part (the white garage) explains why the meter screws up so much in AV mode. There is only one correct exposure for the sunny condition above, but when your meter sees all that white garage it gets confused.

So here is one quick method: Select spot meter and point the camera at a patch of grass in full sun. Choose settings that get you a +1/3 stop reading. This is your 'sun' setting. Now repeat with grass in the shade for the shade setting.

Now ignore the meter completely while shooting. Use the sun and shade settings as appropriate.

One last thing - If the subject is in the shade but the background is in the sun you need to use the 'sun' settings and light the subject with a flash. Nothing else will work well.


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crn3371
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Jul 17, 2010 14:07 |  #8

Except when in manual mode, the camera is controlling the metering. In Av mode you are controlling the aperture (usually for controlling dof), the camera then selects an appropriate shutter speed to insure correct exposure. In Tv mode it's just the opposite. You select shutter speed, the camera chooses the appropriate aperture. ISO is the wild card. A good book on basic exposure would help you a lot. Bryan Peterson's "Understanding Exposure" is the most recommended around here.




  
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DazJW
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Jul 17, 2010 14:31 |  #9

As other people have said you have to be intelligent about your settings, you can't just chase the meter because the meter is easily fooled by objects of different brightness in the same lighting.
You have to remember the camera doesn't know what the right exposure is for what you're pointing it at, it just tries to make everything a set tone of grey.

With your example of someone standing in direct sunlight.
Someone in the shade will be lit differently compared to being in direct sunlight and you have to adjust for that.
Someone standing in front of something white while in direct sunlight will not be lit differently but the camera's metering will get confused by the expanse of white and tell you to adjust even though you shouldn't.




  
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tracknut
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Jul 17, 2010 14:34 |  #10

jeljohns wrote in post #10554101 (external link)
So AV for moving subjects....because even though the light doesn't actually "change" the light hitting the subject does. Correct? I'm just trying to make sure I understand correctly.

No and yes :)

Like I said earlier, I use M for my "moving subjects", almost exclusively. What I do is find a place where the light doesn't change all the time! So I'm shooting an agility event, I will shoot in the end of the arena which is in consistent sun, or consistent shade. Trying to follow a moving object back and forth through varying light, while shooting manual, is impossible (at least for me). But if, for some reason, you don't have that luxury, then yes I'd chose AV for such things, pending the comment above.... about metering and managing two Manual settings specifically instead of 10 settings.

And Yes on the part where the sun is the sun, but in light versus in shade versus some partial/filtered light are all going to require different settings for a correct exposure.

So far metering is the hardest thing for me to master. I'm just not getting the hang of it.

You're almost there, hang in for a bit more and it'll make sense.

For metering mode I have been using evaluative.

That might make sense, though understand what that means. "take a light reading from the scene, prioritizing the center of the image somewhat higher than the rest of the image, and show the light meter in the viewfinder such that the middle would represent lighting that measurement to 18% gray. Then put the needle on what exposure the current aperture, shutter and ISO setting would result in, so the guy behind the viewfinder can see whether he will net 18% gray, or brighter, or darker, if he takes the picture right now".

Re-read the other metering options, specifically the ones on partial metering and center-weighted averaging, with the same phrasing as my first sentence above. Do they sound more like what you'd like the meter to show? (my guess is "yes they do").

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Veemac
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Jul 18, 2010 00:12 |  #11

jeljohns wrote in post #10553964 (external link)
...When my camera is in AV mode a lot of the pictures or too dark or too light, and usually the shutter speed goes waaaaay down and I get blurry pictures. I like to have more control in M.

In Av mode, the camera is going to try to give you the proper shutter speed based upon the aperture and ISO you have selected. You have more control in Manual mode, but "more control" doesn't do any good in some situations. If Av selected a shutter speed that was too slow and caused blur, selecting a higher shutter speed in Manual just means that the image will now be underexposed instead of blurry (unless you open up your aperture or crank up your ISO to compensate for it).


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mike_d
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Jul 18, 2010 00:21 |  #12

Veemac wrote in post #10556382 (external link)
In Av mode, the camera is going to try to give you the proper shutter speed based upon the aperture and ISO you have selected. You have more control in Manual mode, but "more control" doesn't do any good in some situations. If Av selected a shutter speed that was too slow and caused blur, selecting a higher shutter speed in Manual just means that the image will now be underexposed instead of blurry (unless you open up your aperture or crank up your ISO to compensate for it).

That's why I tend to use bigger apertures and raise the ISO when using Av mode even in daylight. I'd rather have faster than necessary shutter speeds on some shot than way too slow on others.




  
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RichSoansPhotos
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Jul 18, 2010 06:20 |  #13
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jeljohns wrote in post #10553270 (external link)
Hi,

I'm a little confused as to how to shoot and meter in manual outside. The light changes so much from one inch to the next. I might point my camera at an area of bright sun, but if I turn slightly left or right I might be pointing at a darker tree.

My question is, since the meter goes nuts from one inch to the next, how do you get proper consistent exposure outside. I tend to shoot moving objects like kids and pets. They don't sit in the same spot the entire time.

I have heard of using Av mode outside, but I find that my exposure is always WAY off and not where I would prefer it when I try this.

I would like to stick with manual, but do I have to be constantly changing my settings? I miss a lot of shots that way.

Does this all the time, I have noticed this when either people walk pass me or vehicles go pass, it is because they are causing a different light level to each of the subject(s)




  
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1trapper1
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Jul 18, 2010 06:33 |  #14

try bracket shooting so then you can compare +/- cameras metering choise




  
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SkipD
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Jul 18, 2010 06:49 |  #15

jeljohns wrote in post #10553270 (external link)
I'm a little confused as to how to shoot and meter in manual outside. The light changes so much from one inch to the next. I might point my camera at an area of bright sun, but if I turn slightly left or right I might be pointing at a darker tree.

400dabuser wrote in post #10557232 (external link)
Does this all the time, I have noticed this when either people walk pass me or vehicles go pass, it is because they are causing a different light level to each of the subject(s)

What beginners frequently get confused about is what a reflected-light meter (like ALL meters built into cameras these days) is all about. A reflected-light meter is unable to determine what the reflectivity of a subject is and can only respond to the light reflected from it. This makes the reflected-light meter respond to various colors and reflective qualities as if the actual light level is different when the light may be absolutely identical all the time.

How can a photographer overcome the problems of varying reflective qualities of the subject material in a scene? The best way is to actually measure the light falling on the subject. This can be done with a handheld meter that can be used in incident mode (as opposed to reflected mode). Incident meters almost always have a white hemisphere over the light sensor to collect the light.

If a photographer cannot afford a handheld meter, there is another way that he/she can measure the light falling on a subject. The additional tool that would be required would be an 18% gray card such as the Kodak R-27 Gray Cards (external link).

The 18% gray card would be held in the same light as the subject and, with the camera set to "M" (Manual exposure mode), the camera would be aimed at the card and the exposure settings adjusted to center the "needle". Then, the camera can be aimed at the scene to make the image.

The more experienced photographer often learns that things like grass or even the palm of his/her hand can be used in a similar way as the gray card but may require a little offset from what the meter initially shows.

Personally, I find that I can find my exposure settings faster and far more accurately than I could using the camera's meter by using my Sekonic L-358 handheld meter, usually in incident mode. My camera's exposure mode dial is almost always set to "M". I seldom have to make any post-processing changes to the exposures.


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taking photographs outside in manual mode
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