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Thread: exposure questions

  1. #1
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    exposure questions

    i was trying to get some shots of ducks on the water yesterday and i had used spot metering. when the exposure meter was in the middle , the ducks were extremely dark. now the question. is there a way to adjust the metering so it reads correctly when the subject is exposed right or do i just adjust until it looks ok and forget what the meter is saying ? i looked up exposure compensation but from what ive read it looks like thats only for flash.
    Stuart Edwards
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  2. #2
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    Page 117 in your manual.
    First line says "Set exposure compensation if the exposure (without flash) does not come out as desired."

    It is for without flash.
    It does not work in manual mode, since in manual mode you can just under or over expose.

    The thing is that the camera thinks it is metering correctly and exposing right. The ducks are most likely a small part of the picture and it is metering on the water not the ducks.

    I would just shoot in manual mode and expose to my taste. Or try and bring out the shadows in post. Or maybe somewhere in between.

  3. #3
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    There are two exposure compensations. One that affects normal exposure (EC), and one that affects flash (FEC). The way to set EC differs by camera. My T1i required holding down a button and turning the wheel, or change it on the settings screen. I think it was the same button used for bracketing... the wheel would move the center (EC), and some other control would widen/shrink how far to bracket. I'm not sure if the T4i is the same. On my 7D I half-press the shutter and turn the rear dial. I don't even remember how it works on my 1Ds2. Possibly the same as the 7D.

    I've switched to mainly using M for action. I dial in an approximate setting, based on wanting a fast shutter and the approximate level of light. I then fine tune until the meter says it's good (or in snow, that I'm over exposed a stop or so). I take a shot and decide based on highlights and shadows how I'd like to adjust from there.
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  4. #4
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    You have been given good advice already.

    The in camera meter attempts to meter everything to neutral (18%) gray. So it was darkening the scene probably because of the brightness of the water and then the ducks came out too dark. A very common problem with bird photos.

    You can use exposure compensation to add or subtract light when you realize the meter is not doing what you want. You may need as much as + or - 2 stops or more, it varies with each scene. On my camera (1DX) when you start metering by half pressing the shutter you can then spin the big wheel on the back of the camera for exposure compensation. You can see the meter changing in the view finder.

    When your subject is darker than the background you may need positive exposure compensation. If your subject is much brighter, like an all white bird, then you may need negative compensation. How many stops? Depends on the situation....a dark bird against bright sky may need plus 2 stops or more. A white bird against dark water may need negative 2 stops or more. You can tell by taking a shot and checking the histogram.

    What works well is what others have suggested: use manual mode. Adjust the camera to the setting where the ducks look right and ignore the background. Then you can follow the ducks and keep getting good exposures unless the overall light changes. This is especially good for birds in flight when the background changes as your subject flies along.

    I do not think you can adjust the meter per se. You just need to know what it is trying to do and compensate for it. The in camera meter works pretty well on bright days with an evenly lit scene. Otherwise it is not always very "smart".

    In my back yard shots I am almost always using +1 stop or a little more of exposure compensation. It helps bring out detail in dark feathers and doesn't usually blow out the whites. I use manual mode and then just add light to what the meter reading gives me. I usually use evaluative metering.
    Last edited by Joel Eade; 04-28-2014 at 10:13 PM.

  5. #5
    Senior Member clemmb's Avatar
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    You did not mention the color of the ducks. We have some white ducks around here. The meter on the white ducks or on the water my expose incorrectly.
    Exposure compensation can be by trial & error which can be frustrating without a LOT of practice. Try finding some grass with approximately the same light the ducks appear to be in, set your exposure in manual and then shoot the ducks. Think about how much light is falling on the ducks, not how much appears to be reflecting from them.
    Shooting manual this way can be frustrating when the sun keeps changing due to the clouds. Just keep practicing till you get the hang of it.
    Mark

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    Water can be especially tricky because it can reflect different amounts of light depending on position of the sun, waves, your position, muddiness, etc - a circular polarizer can help to eliminate a lot of those reflections, which can help with correct exposure. You might still need some Exposure Compensation, but chances are you will need less Exposure Compensation, and you will have less blown out highlights with a correctly exposed subject.
    Arnt

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