My images are capturing dark

Started 9 months ago | Discussions thread
cormierphoto Forum Member • Posts: 77
Re: My images are capturing dark

Sailor Blue wrote:

There is a lot of white in the image. If you are using the camera's built-in meter that is the reason this image is underexposed.

When the camera meters something it expects everything in the scene to add up to middle gray.

If everything in the scene adds up to more than mid-gray, as in this image, the camera will underexpose to make everything add up to mid-gray. The classical example is a bride in a white dress standing in front of a white wall - the camera's meter will give you an exposure where the dress and wall are gray, not white.

If everything add up to less than mid-gray the camera will overexpose.

This is why it was necessary for camera manufacturers to add Exposure Compensation and Flash Exposure Compensation to their cameras.

The simple easy fast way to get the right exposure with your rig is to use a good ambient incident light meter.

My recommendation is a secondhand Sekonic L-358 which is both an ambient light meter in both Aperture and Shutter priority modes and a flash meter (only in Shutter Priority mode). This meter is about the same cost as a new Sekonic L-308 which is basically a flash meter that can be used as an ambient light meter in only the Shutter Priority mode. A secondhand L-358 is a lot less expensive than the L-758.

If you don't have or can't afford a good incident meter and If you are shooting JPGs then using an 18% gray card is the right way to set the "correct" exposure.

Most gray cards are NOT suitable for setting the WB.

The Kodak 18% gray card is one of the very few that is suitable for both setting the JPG exposure and for use as a White Balance card.

Kodak R-27 Gray Cards 1903061 B&H Photo Video

Place the Kodak gray card in the subject lighting and flat on to the camera. The surface of the card is slightly reflective so make sure that none of the lights will directly reflect off the surface of the card and into the lens - remember the angle of incidence equals the angle of reflection.

You can also use a white card to set both a Custom WB in your camera and to give you the best exposure for RAW images, the ETTR exposure. I made my own acrylic plastic white cards for these purposes for about $1.

These show how to make a white card and the way to use it to determine the ETTR exposure as well as how to use it to set a Custom WB.

Sailorblue - HA-ETTR An Easier Way To Expose To The Right Using The Camera's Highlight Alert

Sailorblue - Using a DIY Plastic White Card for WB

All these comments in the thread, and this is the only one with the true correct answer for OP's problem...well detailed. I have the Sekonic L-358 as well and use it for all my commercial shoots.

The best method to understand metering and why you should never rely on your camera's metering alone, is shooting a purely white background versus a purely dark background relying on the camera's meter, where both shots will come exactly the same with 18% grey.

And you have to use spot metering (has to be re-iterated) if metering using a grey card if it does not fill the shot, otherwise it's pointless to meter with it for exposure.

And yeah OP...balancing exposure off a white card? That will just get the camera to meter your whites towards 18% grey and make everything darker. It's no wonder your shots are dark.

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