Shooting "brighter" objects? Exposure settings?

Started Feb 7, 2013 | Questions thread
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Barrie Davis
Barrie Davis Forum Pro • Posts: 21,460
Re: Shooting "brighter" objects? Exposure settings?

Homeracer wrote:

In my first post I showed examples of what I do. Take pictures of toy cars.

One thing that used to give me fits was shooting white-based cars.

Here is an example:

Darker and less detail?

The issue I have is the auto settings make the car darker than say a bright colored model.

I have learned a little about adjusting my exposure settings to compensate. But it seems I still need to tweak the brightness/contrast in Photoshop and it seems I lose clarity.

Sometimes the white almost seems to have a cream-colored "bloom" to it or it washes out too much. If that is the wrong terminology, my apologies.

Background is dull, overall photo still "dark" to me.

What settings should I try to get crisp detail on models like this? I have 4 four standard "shop lights" using T8 bulbs and one drop light.

We can't tell you what settings would be correct without knowing how much light is arriving from your lamps at the subject. For that you will need an Incident Light Meter. Incident light meters are valuable because they do not need any compensation for light-toned or dark-toned subjects. They do not read the light reflected at all... they read the light that's "incident."

As it is, on my profiled monitor your cars appear too light. Evidently you are applying exposure correction in the right direction (plus EC) but have applied too much.

Even white subjects must have some light greys in them, to reveal surface detail.

Until such time as you have a proper purpose-made Incident Light Meter, use your ordinary TTL camera meter, but use it to read from a standardised grey card instead of the subject. Special 18% reflectance grey cards are made for this purpose. They come with full instructions.

I know my camera, or at least I mean I can navigate through it and can work with the settings, just seems I am going the wrong way. The more I read and try, the darker the images are getting?

Pay attention. What's coming is an important principle of reflected light metering!

All subjects with a preponderance of light tones will tend to underexpose without Plus (+) exposure compensation being applied to the metering. Snow scenes, for instance, come out grey unless correctly positively compensated.

Similarly, all subjects that are predominantly dark-toned, like black cats in coal cellars, will tend to be overexposed unless compensated to the correct Minus (-) degree. In the case of black this is overexposure and ALSO results in a grey rendition.

In BOTH cases the actual grey level that results is the one the meter is designed to meter from (Well, surpirse surprise!).

Therefore, the simplest thing to do is proide the correct grey (18%) for the meter to read, meter it under the same light as is incident on the subject....

... and go with the shutter speed and aperture settings that it recommends.

This results in the same shutter speed and aperture setting AS IF an incident light meter had been used...

... or AS IF a light-toned or dark-toned subject was reflection metered, but with the appropriate level of compensation (for being light or dark toned) applied.

Conclusion: All the methods of arriving at correct exposure, when correctly performed, result in the SELF SAME exposure settings. This is because (a) there is only one correct exposure.. and anyway (b) it doesn't matter a damn how you get there, as long as you do.

Final Hint: The histogram is your final arbiter as to whether the exposure you have is correct. The lightest tones should just kiss against the rightmost limit. They should NOT be bursting through it, and there should not be a gap.

(In your sample shots the histo is rising as it meets the right limit... that is called "bursting through." It should be falling as it reaches the right limit.....

..... ideally with the histo slope exactly splitting the right angle between the bottom and the right vertical.

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"Ahh... But the thing is, these guys were no ORDINARY time travellers!"

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