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FORUMS Photography Talk by Genre Critique Corner 
Thread started 26 Sep 2014 (Friday) 10:02
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confused about correct exposure?

 
Alveric
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Sep 27, 2014 14:35 |  #31
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Spit out, produce, report, shew...

Yes, that histogram is from the RAW processor, but for the sake of discussion it'd be what the camera would shew.


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Sep 27, 2014 14:35 |  #32

Alveric wrote in post #17179648 (external link)
Ok, Scatterbrained, gather your wits for a moment and answer me this :p :D

I'm asking you because you do lots of product photography. I remember that Allison Earnest, in her book on product photography, also says that the meter should be aimed at the light in order to get the correct exposure. But what about when the light is coming from behind, quite strong so as to blow the back of the frame out (yes, in this case I mean intentionally blowing it out)?

See:

Metering conundrum (external link)

Things get very dark when you aim the meter at the light: the background has the 'right' exposure, but the foreground is pretty dark.

What do you do in those cases. Furthermore, what do you do when you've added other lights/reflectors. How do you use the meter to calculate the proper exposure then?

If I wanted to blow out the area behind the product I'd meter it as such. ;) Getting the amount of light right on the product face is a matter of using a reflector and metering the light in the front. Basically you meter in front of the product and behind to see where your light levels are. There's no one place to meter from. If you want a gradient on the background you can meter the background in different areas to ensure that you are getting the appropriate gradient, and that the hotspot from the light is indeed in it's center. ;) Of course metering is just one part of the equation, there is light placement and angle, distance, etc to think about as well.


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Sep 27, 2014 14:38 |  #33

Archibald wrote in post #17180636 (external link)
Not sure what you mean here. The camera is not capable of causing the tones to span the histogram. We are just setting the exposure, that's all. Selecting an exposure that places the hilites to the right simply allows the sensor to capture the maximum tones. It is a widely used and accepted technique.

For more info, just google expose to the right.

And again on light meters, they are IMO obsolete. What matters is not what the light meter thinks but what the sensor records. And the blinkies and histogram disclose that very well.

Clearly you don't shoot in a studio do you? You're histogram isn't going to help you set up multiple lights, or ensure that you achieve the desired ratio between highlights and shadows. With a lightmeter you can dial in your lights before you even take a shot.


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Sep 27, 2014 14:58 |  #34

Alveric wrote in post #17180674 (external link)
Spit out, produce, report, shew...

Yes, that histogram is from the RAW processor, but for the sake of discussion it'd be what the camera would shew.

Yes, the camera's histogram just reports the light distribution of the scene as recorded.

It is up to the photographer to decide how to handle unusual or difficult scenes. Depending on the objectives, it might be fine to blow out some highlights. But highlights that need to have detail need to be on the right for an optimal exposure.

Many subjects with light distributions like this can be shot successfully with widely differing exposures, depending on the goal.

Not sure what your point is. Do you think an exposure meter would be better here?? Or are you saying that photographers need to think before pressing the shutter button? If the latter, I agree.


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Sep 27, 2014 15:00 |  #35

Scatterbrained wrote in post #17180677 (external link)
Clearly you don't shoot in a studio do you? Your histogram isn't going to help you set up multiple lights, or ensure that you achieve the desired ratio between highlights and shadows. With a lightmeter you can dial in your lights before you even take a shot.

OK, point taken.


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Alveric
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Sep 27, 2014 15:14 |  #36
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Archibald wrote in post #17180696 (external link)
Yes, the camera's histogram just reports the light distribution of the scene as recorded.

It is up to the photographer to decide how to handle unusual or difficult scenes. Depending on the objectives, it might be fine to blow out some highlights. But highlights that need to have detail need to be on the right for an optimal exposure.

Many subjects with light distributions like this can be shot successfully with widely differing exposures, depending on the goal.

Not sure what your point is. Do you think an exposure meter would be better here?? Or are you saying that photographers need to think before pressing the shutter button? If the latter, I agree.

My point, as stated above, is that the histogram is useless. Thus, it should not be relied on to determine exposure, unless your brain can compute with lightning speed the tonal values in the scene and know exactly where in the histogram they should fall. I've yet to meet a man with such ability.

To answer the question I posed above: if I were using my histograms to determine exposure, upon chimping and seeing that histogram, I'd think the image was underexposed and I'd quickly compensate to expose 'correctly', i.e. have a histogram with most tones pushed towards the right of its centre. And I'd end up with a mess like this:

IMAGE: http://www.diamantstudios.ca/Gemeines/bilder/Histogram-02.jpg

But a nice(r) histogram:

IMAGE: http://www.diamantstudios.ca/Gemeines/bilder/Histogram--03.jpg

The actual image, in spite of how much the camera and the histogram idols disagree and scream at me for ever taking it, has the correct exposure:

IMAGE NOT FOUND
IMAGE IS A REDIRECT OR MISSING!
HTTP response: 404 | MIME changed to 'text/html' | Byte size: ZERO

Chiaroscuro (external link) by Alveric (external link), on ipernity

And if the walls of the alley print out as pure black, I don't care a whit: I actually want that.

PS: Exposure was determined by spot metering off the sky, which is the mid-tone. Sadly, in this case I did not have my hand-held meter with me, but if I had, I woulda used its spot function and metered off the same patch of sky.

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Alveric
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Sep 27, 2014 15:34 |  #37
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Furthermore, in studio situations the histogram again proves useless, dangerous even when you've a black subject on a black background:

IMAGE: http://www.diamantstudios.ca/Gemeines/bilder/Histogram--04.jpg

(Image is SOOC, no post done yet)

And the image's 'wrong' histogram:
IMAGE: http://www.diamantstudios.ca/Gemeines/bilder/Histogram--04B.jpg

Now, the histogram is in very deed correct: it's telling me that over 90% of the tones are very dark and there's clipping to black (the background). But **I** would be wrong to adjust my exposure in order to have an even histogram, and/or to ETTR (in this particular case, having most of my tones to the right is actually impossible):

IMAGE: http://www.diamantstudios.ca/Gemeines/bilder/Histogram--05.jpg

Histogram:
IMAGE: http://www.diamantstudios.ca/Gemeines/bilder/Histogram--05B.jpg


The only situations in which the fabled histogram might (and that's still a dubious 'might') be successfully used to determine exposure is for images that fall within the dynamic range of the camera:

IMAGE: http://www.diamantstudios.ca/Gemeines/bilder/Histogram--06.jpg

IMAGE: http://www.diamantstudios.ca/Gemeines/bilder/Histogram--06B.jpg

Scenes like that one, however, with their uniformity of tonal values, tend to be quite boring, and the only way to make them less flat is to bring up the contrast. One of the things that bothers me very much is the insistence by both photographers and camera/RAW processors makers is the perverse desire to have detail everywhere. What's wrong with shadows, or pure black even? Detail everywhere makes for flat images on which the eye dances all over without finding a focal point on which to land.

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Sep 27, 2014 18:08 as a reply to  @ Alveric's post |  #38

i wish i would have 1/10 off the knowledge of you guys to participated on this debate, even though i hate arguing.but on this one i win a. lot of good info in here.:)


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Sep 27, 2014 19:08 |  #39

2 is correct




  
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Sep 29, 2014 10:31 as a reply to  @ HappySnapper90's post |  #40

as promised here are the results facing the light meter to the camera.
#1 (by the light meter)

IMAGE: http://hidroilio.com/victor/web%20ready-5711.jpg
histogram
IMAGE: http://hidroilio.com/victor/5-6.png
#2 (over expose)
IMAGE: http://hidroilio.com/victor/web%20ready-5712.jpg
histogram
IMAGE: http://hidroilio.com/victor/4-0.png
#3 (under expose)
IMAGE: http://hidroilio.com/victor/web%20ready-5713.jpg
histogram
IMAGE: http://hidroilio.com/victor/8-0.png

so on this test what you guys think and what the histogram can tell me.
any thoughts would be really appreciated.

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Sep 29, 2014 11:02 |  #41

#1 is the best exposure as evidenced by the histogram. The highlights are close to the right edge of the histogram without clipping.

#2 You're clipping the highlight areas of your image here. If you look at the right edge of the histogram you will see a spike indicating that data was not captured. And you could also see this by looking at the white portions of the image, especially the hat. You've lost all detail there due to clipping.

#3 is underexposed. Unless its an artistic/creative decision when you're shooting an image that includes white you want the histogram to stretch across to the right edge; from the #3 histogram you're about a 1/2 stop underexposed.


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Sep 29, 2014 11:08 |  #42

Just one thought to add. I don't think the expose to the right crowd says that if your histogram is to the right, without clipping, your exposure will be perfect, straight out of the camera.

They know you then may need to adjust the exposure down in post but by doing that you get the least amount of noise possible in the shadows and have a lot of info in the highlights. This is a lot like using a film profile for shooting video. The results straight out of the camera look bad but you adjust in post to get more detail in both the shadows and the highlights.

Fire away at my ignorance!


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Sep 29, 2014 11:14 |  #43

bpalermini wrote in post #17183875 (external link)
Just one thought to add. I don't think the expose to the right crowd says that if your histogram is to the right, without clipping, your exposure will be perfect, straight out of the camera.

They know you then may need to adjust the exposure down in post but by doing that you get the least amount of noise possible in the shadows and have a lot of info in the highlights. This is a lot like using a film profile for shooting video. The results straight out of the camera look bad but you adjust in post to get more detail in both the shadows and the highlights.

Agreed.


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Sep 29, 2014 14:12 |  #44
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bpalermini wrote in post #17183875 (external link)
Just one thought to add. I don't think the expose to the right crowd says that if your histogram is to the right, without clipping, your exposure will be perfect, straight out of the camera.

They know you then may need to adjust the exposure down in post but by doing that you get the least amount of noise possible in the shadows and have a lot of info in the highlights. This is a lot like using a film profile for shooting video. The results straight out of the camera look bad but you adjust in post to get more detail in both the shadows and the highlights.

Fire away at my ignorance!

And then you end up with muddy highlights when you 'correct' them in post. Been there, done that. I'd rather use noise reduction, which, since I'm shooting at low ISO values is usually not even needed. You also have to rely a lot on your memory of how the image really looked. Was the sky really that bright? Was that the right tone of brown? No thanks; when I can get things right in the camera, I'd rather not fiddle like that nor spend hours in front of my computer fixing stuff.

ETTR seems aimed to gearheads, pixel-peepers, and the fans of high ISO speeds (over 1600 —these guys will definitely need noise correction/prevention)​.

And, as Scatterbrained pointed out, ETTR is useless in a studio or when you have to calculate lighting ratios (as is the case with professional portraiture).

Which brings me to the latest test by the OP:

#1 is the correct exposure. If the monkey looks too dark for you then you need to start diffusing the light, moving it around, and/or adding fill or supplementary lights. Using your meter you can easily set the intensity of the fill light by as many stops under the intensity of the main as you want. Ain't these things great or what?


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Sep 29, 2014 22:01 |  #45

so on this test what you guys think and what the histogram can tell me.
any thoughts would be really appreciated.

If you had taken a cu as I suggested, the histogram would have told you how close to blowing out the whites you were.
But your eye should tell you that your lighting is seriously uneven.


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