Shooting "brighter" objects? Exposure settings?

Started Feb 7, 2013 | Questions
Homeracer
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Shooting "brighter" objects? Exposure settings?
Feb 7, 2013

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.

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?

As usual, the only thing "wrong" with most of these cameras is the person standing behind it

Thanks for any help.

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leno
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Re: Shooting "brighter" objects? Exposure settings?
In reply to Homeracer, Feb 7, 2013

Everything in the mettering universe is based on the world being grey. Things that are brighter than grey, like white is, need to be over exposed. Use the exposure comp option. Think of your white cars as fitting into the snow settings arena.

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tclune
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Re: Shooting "brighter" objects? Exposure settings?
In reply to Homeracer, Feb 7, 2013

The "royal road" to exposure in the kind of context you discuss is to get an incident light meter. This kind of light meter measures the amount of light falling on the scene you are trying to photograph, and is indifferent to whether the things being photographed are white, black, or anything in between. But, if you have to use the camera's reflective light meter, you need to worry about the darkness of the objects being photographed in addition to the light illuminating them. In that case, it is helpful to have some understanding of the zone system. A very simple introduction to it can be found here. FWIW

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Barrie Davis
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Re: Shooting "brighter" objects? Exposure settings?
In reply to Homeracer, Feb 7, 2013

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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Baz
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AnthonyL
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Re: Shooting "brighter" objects? Exposure settings?
In reply to Barrie Davis, Feb 7, 2013

Barrie Davis wrote:

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."

I wonder as a first test how the OP would get on if he metered off the track, and used those settings in manual mode.

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.

An additional point on this is to also look at the RGB histogram and make sure that none, and in particular, the Red channel doesn't burst through.

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BobSC
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Re: Shooting "brighter" objects? Exposure settings?
In reply to Homeracer, Feb 7, 2013

If the image fits inside the RGB histogram, then you should be able to adjust the brightness down to whatever you want with no loss of detail in post.

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Barrie Davis
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Re: Shooting "brighter" objects? Exposure settings?
In reply to AnthonyL, Feb 7, 2013

AnthonyL wrote:

Barrie Davis wrote:

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."

I wonder as a first test how the OP would get on if he metered off the track, and used those settings in manual mode.

Yes, metering from the track as a grey card target occured to me, too. Notwithstanding that the images have been brightened in post, I think it may be a little too light...

... but, even so, it would have been better than metering from the white of the cars and getting more severe underexposure.

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.

An additional point on this is to also look at the RGB histogram and make sure that none, and in particular, the Red channel doesn't burst through.

Yes.

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Baz
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donaldsc
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Re: Shooting "brighter" objects? Exposure settings?
In reply to Homeracer, Feb 7, 2013

You could also do exposure bracketing to ensure that one of the exposures is OK.

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Homeracer
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Re: Shooting "brighter" objects? Exposure settings?
In reply to donaldsc, Feb 8, 2013

Thank you all very much. I learned a lot and have printed this as a guide.

I will get the right tools to make my job better. Thanks for letting me know.

This is a great forum, unlike some I frequent...this has answers that work.

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tclune
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Re: Shooting "brighter" objects? Exposure settings?
In reply to Homeracer, Feb 8, 2013

Let me just suggest that, if you are going to get an incident light meter, you get one that also can be used for metering flash. It is not unreasonable to believe that you will end up wanting flash metering capability if you stay with the hobby (this is important when you start using off-camera flash or strobes), and lots of good light meters support essentially all modes -- incident/reflective and ambient/flash. There are lots of bells and whistles you can get with a light meter, but any meter that can do all of these modes should be adequate for your light metering needs. Sekonic and Shepherd/Polaris are two good brands that offer inexpensive light meters that should do. BTW, light meters are good things to buy used from a reputable dealer like KEH. You can save as much as 40% on a meter that is like new. FWIW

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