exposure

# 6262

# 6262

These two files were shot within a fraction of a second between exposures.  The only difference, in camera, was the exposure.  The shot above is two stops higher than the metered average exposure and the shot below is two stops lower than the average, according to the camera meter.  Two stops can make the difference between a good photo and one that needs a lot of work to be saved.  But the camera meter doesn’t know this so it tries to make the best average exposure it can to save the photo and a high percentage of the time, it’s usually right.  Some photographers are good at second guessing the meter and choose to shoot manually.  I’ve set my meter to a constant minus (-) 1/2 stop difference because I always thought the Nikon meters tend to overexpose a tiny bit. RAW files are so forgiving of this amount of exposure it’s almost negligible though. I think the biggest difference is within the scene itself and the way we want to portray it.

# 6261

# 6261

PS:  Here is the top photo with the ducks swimming in the opposite direction.  I found these same three ducks and re-staged this sunset to get this photo.

# 9999 m

# 9999 m

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25 thoughts on “exposure

  1. malinhphotography

    I always photograph with manual
    I never use the auto because I want to control myself.

    Reply
    1. oneowner Post author

      Thanks, Malin. I shoot about half of the photos in manual and the rest in Aperture priority mode. I think both modes offer a lot of control for me. On rare occasion I’ve used the Program mode, but mostly for snapshots.

      Reply
  2. Cedric Canard

    I find cameras these days rarely get it wrong when it comes to rendering a scene close to what it looked like. However for me, manual compensation is there to render the scene as per my imagination.

    What I find interesting about your two photos is that I would most likely have shot it like #6261 but I actually prefer #6262 as the exposure seems much more aligned with the subject matter. Maybe I should start looking at lightening my photos 🙂

    Reply
    1. oneowner Post author

      Thanks, Cedric. I remember a while back you posted that you had a preference for darker images. I don’t know myself if I have a conscious preference toward either high key or low key images but one project that I’m currently working on is definitely dark.

      Reply
  3. disperser

    Post processing these days give you lots of latitude. I end up varying the way I shoot depending what I’m doing, but first and foremost I try to get the shot.

    I think the majority I shoot in Program mode, but choose the metering location and area.

    I had a tough time with the two above, but ended up giving a slight edge to the first one. The ducks become the subject in the lighter one, whereas on the second one they are but props. Still, both are good shots, and there are reasons to like either one.

    Reply
  4. Linda Grashoff

    Glad you gave us both versions—they’re both lovely. I might have turned around the ducks so that they are facing more water, but I guess that’s cheating. Number 6262 makes me think of opalescent glass—that and how I wish _I’d_ taken this shot.

    Reply
    1. oneowner Post author

      Thanks, Linda. There is no cheating in photography. I actually have a version with the ducks facing into the photo. Commercially, that is the more accepted way of seeing things but I decided to post the original version.

      Reply
  5. John Linn

    Interesting post, and a good reminder of the possibilities exposure provides. You did not post the center exposure… perhaps that was the most mundane of the bunch? I too like the ducks heading for the image edge rather than the sun but that is only a preference.

    Bottom line, both images have their charms.

    Reply
    1. oneowner Post author

      Thanks, John. Sometimes I’ll make a subtle change to a photo, like the ducks facing in or out, but not too often. In this case, it didn’t really matter much as far a the overall look of the photo is concerned.

      Reply
  6. John

    Very nice shots – I like both, but really, the first one’s special. You don’t see such calming pastel images much anymore – they’re usually either dark and disturbing or explosions of colors.

    I routinely keep my Nikon at -1/3 EV for the same reason as you.

    Reply
    1. oneowner Post author

      Thanks, John. I rarely hear folks say that the Nikon meter underexposes when set to normal.
      I find myself leaning towards high key photos these days. If the subject is right, it’s a nice thing to try out.

      Reply
  7. jphoto

    so glad the plus/minus choice is so readily availble on the nikons. use it all the time. great shot, ken.

    Reply
  8. Mark

    I like the pastel tones also Ken. I guess you should be called the duck whisperer to get them moving in the opposite direction? 🙂 Been away far too long, have lots of reading here to do.

    Reply
    1. oneowner Post author

      Thanks, Mark. One time I shot many exposures of 2 swans swimming in the lake. I cut out the ducks in each exposure and layered them all together. It was one of my first digital manipulations and it was a good learning experience. Other than that, the birds don’t seem to mind me.

      Reply
  9. janina

    I like the watercolour painting effect of the over-exposed pic, with ducks goin’ either way. Now, I think the second shot would be more interesting if you’d not under-exposed so much, say possibly only one-third under, which would have given the pinks just a little more oomph! Any exposure changes I may make are usually in thirds, half is a bit too much. 😉

    Reply
    1. oneowner Post author

      Thanks, Janina. There is a reason for the dramatic underexposure. The camera gives incredibly rich files and a full stop under can be brought in control in LR4. It’s hard to save grossly over exposed files with blown out highlights. For total control, high keys are best made in post production.

      Reply
      1. janina

        I agree about the creative control in post-processing; however, Lr can recover highlights in over-exposed shots, and you can be selective in which areas to wish to work on that recovery by using the selection brush (can’t recall its real name) that paints red over the area, and can be set to varying depths of intensity. Try it!

      2. oneowner Post author

        I have tried the adjustment brush but it has only limited potential for blown out areas of a photo. I tend to keep a constant -2/3 stop exposure setting on the camera to prevent it from happening too often but sometimes it’s not enough. On bright days and subjects, I’ll bracket with the option of combining the exposures to produce a natural looking file, similar to HDR. I have HDR Efex Pro software, which I seldom use it, but it can do a decent job using multiple files and even with single files to produce a natural looking photo. I try to resisted the urge to overprocess, but sometimes I can get carried away.

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