Exposure and histogram...

mesmerized

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Hi all,

I've just finished watching a few videos about exposure and histogram by Jared Platt and I'm a tad confused by what I've seen. I was wondering how you approach exposure and what your tricks are.

1) How much attention do you pay to the light meter? Do you usually try to keep it around 0? I know that's what I do, for some strange reason.
2) Do you usually expose to the right?
3) Do you prefer to overexpose rather than underexpose? Looks like it's easier to recover highlights rather than shadows (?)
4) How much do you rely on zebras/blinkers?

Thanks
 

addieleman

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First and foremost, it makes a big difference how to approach exposure if you shoot raw or jpeg.

  1. I shoot raw with the Sony A7Rm2. My default setting for EC (exposure compensation) is -1 stop, to protect highlights from blowing out. If the scene has flat lighting, I set EC to 0 or to +1 stop when the scene contains a lot of (near) whites.
  2. I don't bother with ETTR (exposure to the right), the camera has enough dynamic range.
  3. I don't want overexposure that results in blown highlights, I'd rather have somewhat more noise in the shadows. Blown highlights are never recoverable. When I'm not sure and I have time, I bracket exposure.
  4. Blinkies give me an indication, although they're not very reliable when shooting raw. From experience I know what amount of blinking highlights I can get away with. And when in doubt, I bracket or dial EC down.
Keeping this short for now because I'm about to go on a family visit :).
 

bdbits

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Hi all,

I've just finished watching a few videos about exposure and histogram by Jared Platt and I'm a tad confused by what I've seen. I was wondering how you approach exposure and what your tricks are.

1) How much attention do you pay to the light meter? Do you usually try to keep it around 0? I know that's what I do, for some strange reason.
2) Do you usually expose to the right?
3) Do you prefer to overexpose rather than underexpose? Looks like it's easier to recover highlights rather than shadows (?)
4) How much do you rely on zebras/blinkers?

Thanks
1) I use a combination of light meter and what I see in the EVF. While far from perfect, I've adjusted its brightness and learned what I can expect in the image versus overall light I see in the EVF (less so for the LCD on back). But I always check the light meter and normally want to keep it around 0 unless it looks like I will blow out highlights or there is some other reason I want to deviate.
2) I've experimented with ETTR but find the results are not that much better than good exposure with normal post processing, and not worth the hassle for me and what I shoot.
3) I always protect the highlights, and pull up shadows or entire image exposure as needed in post. You can recover shadows very well with Sony RAWs, blown highlights are really not recoverable.
4) Sometimes I use them on very bright days, kind of a double-check alongside the light meter and what I see in the EVF.

I shoot RAW also. It gives you quite a lot more flexibility to adjust images in post (for me Capture One, most use Lightroom). I am not a good enough photographer to use JPEG and nail it all in-camera.

One other thing to keep in mind is that many of the camera aids are based on your JPEG settings. I know this is true of histograms, not sure on the light meter. Some people shoot in RAW, but then set JPEG controls to aid shooting, e.g. use B&W or bump up contrast/sharpness to aid in manual focusing. Lots of interesting approaches out there.
 

mesmerized

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Thank you all

I don't know how to handle situations like this one here... bright skies, dark streets... and some people walking around (by the way - no idea how to make sure that most of them are all sharp... any suggestions?)

P.S. I know that the composition here isn't particularly good.
Subscribe to see EXIF info for this image (if available)
 

mstphoto

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This is a tricky situation.
For an image like this, I would probably bracket 3 or 5 shots making sure I had well exposed highlights and detail in the shadow areas.
I would then blend them together using luminosity masks … or an easier way would be to create an HDR image.
HDR images don't need to be those grungy, cartoony monstrosities that we see from time to time.
They can be made to produce natural looking images ;)
Hope this helps
 

addieleman

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Like Mike says, tricky situation. IMHO raw shooting is strongly preferred in such situations, it gives much more leeway during post-processing which is almost a necessity here. I shoot such scenes with -1 stop exposure compensation on my A7Rm2 to prevent blowing out the bright sky. Later in Lightroom I pull back the highlights and lift the shadows.

I downloaded the photo and it appears that the sky is blown out in the jpg file you present, leaving no option to get some detail in the sky. With an A7m3 raw file you should be able to keep noise to reasonable levels in the shadows when dialling down exposure; in such cases it pays off to take several shots with e.g. 0, -1, -2 stops exposure compensation. Pick the shot where the highlights aren't blown and process that one.

Maybe it's possible to get good photos of this kind of scene when shooting jpeg, but I don't have any experience with that, so maybe others can chime in on that subject. And frankly, in such shots I tend to leave the sky out of the picture, it's very hard to get an appealing shot with a bland sky and subjects in the shadow.
 
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mesmerized

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For an image like this, I would probably bracket 3 or 5 shots making sure I had well exposed highlights and detail in the shadow areas.
Thanks mstphoto!

The question is... since there are some people in the image, won't a sequence of photos be affected by their movement?

In all honesty, I never understood the difference between bracketing and HDR.

Any tips regarding keeping most people in the picture in focus?
 

mesmerized

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With an A7m3 raw file you should be able to keep noise to reasonable levels in the shadows when dialling down exposure; in such cases it pays off to take several shots with e.g. 0, -1, -2 stops exposure compensation. Pick the shot where the highlights aren't blown and process that one.
Thanks addieleman.
I do have RAW files for every JPG I take. Would you say that the a7r2/3 have a better dynamic range than the a7m3?
 

addieleman

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Thanks addieleman.
I do have RAW files for every JPG I take. Would you say that the a7r2/3 have a better dynamic range than the a7m3?
According to DxOMark the A7m3 and A7Rm3 have very similar dynamic range, the A7Rm2 is a bit behind at lower ISO values. I'd check the raw files to see if the sky is blown out; if so, there isn't anything you can do but avoid overexposure the next time.
 

bdbits

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I agree with all the good advice on dynamic range. As to your keeping most people in focus, that is going to depend a lot on depth of field, which is largely a function of aperture used. In other words, it is going to be more difficult at f/2.8 than at say f/11. Of course you also have to balance that against exposure needs. Also, as you stop down (bigger aperture number) you will eventually start seeing diffraction which will degrade image quality. It's a trade-off, to be sure, and most lenses have a 'sweet spot' for maxiumum DOF without diffraction. Personally as a default I try to shoot around f/5.6 if I can, as that is often near to that sweet spot, but I've taken shots at f/22 as well. It is very situational and one of those things that makes non-smartphone photography challenging.
 

mstphoto

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Thanks mstphoto!

The question is... since there are some people in the image, won't a sequence of photos be affected by their movement?

In all honesty, I never understood the difference between bracketing and HDR.

Any tips regarding keeping most people in the picture in focus?
If by "keeping most people in the picture in focus" you mean the movement of the people between frames, then some HDR software programs have a deghosting option.
I use Lightroom CC and it has a Low, Medium and High setting that helps with this
 

Kirkp

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In all honesty, I never understood the difference between bracketing and HDR.
Exposure bracketing simply means capturing the same photo at three (or more) different exposures. You can choose the best of the three. But if the dynamic range of the scene exceeds the dynamic range of your sensor (or film) you are forced to choose between highlights and shadows.

HDR starts with bracketed photos, but instead of choosing between them it combines them. In the process it reduces the dynamic range of the scene, remapping it to the more limited dynamic range of the technology that will be used to display the image (e.g., print or screen). I think the most difficult part of that remapping process is getting the colors to look reasonably natural.
 

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