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Thread started 02 May 2006 (Tuesday) 19:04
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Question about spot metering

 
judyg
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May 02, 2006 19:04 |  #1

I got a 30D and I want to learn to expose my photos well. I read all about spot metering and I understand the theory and the idea.

I just don't understand exactly how to do it in real life. Could someone give me step-by-step instructions on what I would do to spot meter a picture?

Let's say I want to take a picture of a white egret in a dark lake. I want to expose correctly for the bird, not the water. So what exactly do I do?

I need practical advice on how to actually do this.




  
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Keiffer
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May 02, 2006 19:24 |  #2

Well you can spot meter the palm of your hand and add 2/3(if your white)or meter a blue sky and add 2/3-1 stop. Spot metering will only give you the 18% gray for mids. It will not give you exposure for your whole shot.



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judyg
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May 02, 2006 19:43 |  #3

I am asking how to shoot a photo of a white bird where the background doesn't matter to me, it can come out totally dark, in fact I would like the shot that way. I meter on the bird, then what? What do I do with the settings?




  
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Keiffer
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May 02, 2006 19:51 |  #4

For a bird, Meter off the blue sky and add 1. If you metered off the white bird, it would be gray. And you can make a light or bright backround dark without throwing everything off, as far as I know.



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judyg
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May 02, 2006 23:21 |  #5

Thank you for the answer, but how do you know that? That's my question.




  
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tzalman
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May 02, 2006 23:55 |  #6

The principle is fairly simple but it does take some experience and judgement to gauge the brighness level of various objects. If you are shooting jpg you can safely assume the camera has a dynamic range of 5 stops. That means that 2.5 stops above middle grey absolute burnout waits in ambush. If you have metered off a white object add 2 stops of EC to get a white that still retains good detail. The idea is that it should be around 240-245 when you first get it in your computer, that will leave headroom for the editing that increases contrast, like sharpening.
As noted above, a Caucasion face and a blue sky are around 1 stop above middle grey. Green grass is very close to medium.
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Don ­ Grant
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May 03, 2006 03:38 |  #7

This Podcast helped me a lot with metering.
http://www.thedigitals​tory.com …metering_modes_​podca.html (external link)

Don




  
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May 03, 2006 07:42 as a reply to  @ judyg's post |  #8

judyg wrote:
Thank you for the answer, but how do you know that? That's my question.

Spot meter off the white part of the bird. Since it's white, you will need to add 1 1/2 to 1 2/3 stop of EC (maybe even more) to get the bird exposed properly. Check the histogram after taking the shot and adjust the EC as necessary.

If the bird is black, use negative 1 1/2 to 1 2/3 EC.


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I ­ Simonius
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May 03, 2006 07:47 |  #9

judyg wrote:
I got a 30D and I want to learn to expose my photos well. I read all about spot metering and I understand the theory and the idea.

I just don't understand exactly how to do it in real life. Could someone give me step-by-step instructions on what I would do to spot meter a picture?

Let's say I want to take a picture of a white egret in a dark lake. I want to expose correctly for the bird, not the water. So what exactly do I do?

I need practical advice on how to actually do this.

SPOT metering works best when you have something in the image that is 18% grey toned to spot meter, and which is big enough to more than fill the spot mettering circle or that you can zoom into to meter

Now to your question:
I don't know the right answer but this is how I would do it:

I wouldn't use the spot metering in that situation,(unless it was in a different light to me and I couldn't use incident readings) but if I had to I would either zoom in real tight on the whitest bit of the feathered friend (not it's eye or beak) and note that reading, and open up 2 stops, Same technique as for shooting snow scenes and white beaches; or I would zoom right in on the face , esp. eyes and beak and provided it was averagely mid toned would just use exactly that exposure setting

What I would do if I didn't have to use spot is to use partial metering ( spot might be swayed by sweat reflection highlights)and get an incident reading off my palm

I.e. get a reading of the same light that is falling on the bird [an 'incident' reading] and so I'd meter the palm of my (caucasion) hand in the same light as is falling on the subject and open up one stop, or as I have a 18% grey card in my bag exactly for this sort of situation I would meter off that. That really is the simplest slution to the scenario you describe

If the bird is moving in and out of shade this is a tricky on ebut you could try to use exposure compensation (EC) combined with a spot reading, i.e , take a spot reading of beaky at the approximate framing you want, adjust for correct exposure using EC, and make sure you spot read before firing

When is it best to use spot metering?
Get and read a good book on the 'Zone System' first written about by Ansel Adams

Basically you need to be able to visualise and recognise a tone and then meter to place that tone where you want it within the latitude of the film.e.g you may decide you want the birds feathers to be pure white with just visible detail. As has already been mentioned this will be at about 2 stops above 18% grey. Whereas if you were shooting a football game and the players were wearing grey shirts you could spot meter off the shirts and keep that reading to use without altering

As has already been mentioned by other posters most people use one or two methods or a combination of both for the situation you describe , which is after all probably the hardest to meter (but just try evaluative metering for that scene - you might be surprised!)
1- GET AN 18% GREY CARD ;)
2 -meter off the palm of you hand and open up one stop (if caucasion, if not metter off the palm of your hand and compare to an 18% grey card so you will always know how much to adjst the reading when out in the field. make sure the sun isn't being reflected directly back into the lens off your hand, you want to meter the light falling on your hand not how much it can reflect back into the lens especialy if sweaty;) )
3- metter off lush grass. As long as it is fresh healthy lush grass it will probbaly be pretty close to 18% gey tone. Dry grass or old grass needs opening up by one stop approx (experiment)
4- meter off the darkest bit of a completely cloudless sky opposite the sun ( without polariser) [DON'T POINT ANYWHERE NEAR THE SUN OBVIOUSLY, UNLESS YOU WANT TO GO BLIND]
5- meter off a tarmaced road provided it is around mid gery not too dark or light
6- meter off anything else that looks mid grey toned (a wall, rusty metal, tree etc)

Finally :
From :
http://www.reallyright​stuff.com …als/stuff_tips/​index.html (external link)

Exposure tip: When shooting people against the light (distinctly backlit) and the framing is bigger than a portrait, spot meter some shaded skin (Caucasian), and manually expose at the indicated (center null) value. The scene will then record in best balance. Open up one stop only for a tight portrait.

Just thought I'd mention that link - lots of useful stuff there!


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I ­ Simonius
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May 03, 2006 13:40 as a reply to  @ I Simonius's post |  #10

quiet in here innit?....(tolling of distant bell....):) ;)


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exile
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May 03, 2006 13:51 as a reply to  @ I Simonius's post |  #11

Simon King wrote:
quiet in here innit?....(tolling of distant bell....):) ;)

It's just taken me all that time to digest your post;) - great information in there Simon!


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judyg
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May 03, 2006 13:57 |  #12

Thank you Simon, that helps a lot.




  
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I ­ Simonius
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May 03, 2006 13:58 as a reply to  @ exile's post |  #13

exile wrote:
It's just taken me all that time to digest your post;) - great information in there Simon!

Ulster eh?:D
Used to live in Co Down as a lad, place called Rostrevor near Warrenpoint nr Newry;)


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May 03, 2006 13:59 as a reply to  @ judyg's post |  #14

judyg wrote:
Thank you Simon, that helps a lot.

Good! I'm glad I didn't make it too complicated - I can do that ( Ive been told:( )


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May 03, 2006 14:03 as a reply to  @ I Simonius's post |  #15

Simon King wrote:
Ulster eh?:D
Used to live in Co Down as a lad, place called Rostrevor near Warrenpoint nr Newry;)

i did a DH bike race in Rostrevor in '03.

:D

btw, thanks for this post...i was very confused about spot/partial metering as well, and now i've got some stuff to try out.


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Question about spot metering
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