Metering on White Egrets

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Rocket13 Senior Member • Posts: 3,295
Metering on White Egrets
1

Hello all, back for more tips. So I love shooting Egrets, I don't get to see them often so dont get to practice a ton on them. What I would like to know is how to meter on them to get the best detail out of them. I am sharing a recent shot just as reference. I understand I was not in a good position for the light but I didn't have options .

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ThrillaMozilla Veteran Member • Posts: 5,033
Re: Metering on White Egrets
1

I shoot egrets too.  They're just plain hard.  They usually look better if nothing is clipped.  There are some methods you can use.

1. Spot meter on the egret, if your camera has a small enough spot.  Then you can use some stops of exposure compensation.  Like maybe 2 or 3 or 4.  You'll have to figure that out by trial and error.

2. Meter off a white or gray card or a white shirt or something, and set exposure compensation appropriately.  You'll just have to figure it out for deep shade.

3. Bracket.

4. Trial and error.  Use blinkies/zebras/histograms.

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OP Rocket13 Senior Member • Posts: 3,295
Re: Metering on White Egrets

As far as EV goes + Ev for like snow until blinkies then back off a bit? I assumed spot but wasn't sure. Thanks for tips

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ThrillaMozilla Veteran Member • Posts: 5,033
Re: Metering on White Egrets

Rocket13 wrote:

As far as EV goes + Ev for like snow until blinkies then back off a bit? I assumed spot but wasn't sure. Thanks for tips.

That should work, but be aware that there is quite a range of brightnesses even in the white areas. And typically those bird might be against a very dark background in the woods or deep water or something. It's a bit of an art.

The other method I didn't mention is to buy a camera specifically for those birds. A D850 or D500 would be sweet. There are others too.  But technique and luck can go a long way.

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richj20 Veteran Member • Posts: 8,156
Re: Metering on White Egrets

Good tips from ThrillaMozilla.

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Morris0
Morris0 Forum Pro • Posts: 16,256
Re: Metering on White Egrets

In general, it's best to give your subject more space in the direction there looking rather than placing it in the middle of the screen

Morris

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Bill Ferris
Bill Ferris Veteran Member • Posts: 5,678
Re: Metering on White Egrets

I use center-weighted metering for just about everything and will choose settings 2/3 to a full stop (sometimes more) below meter. My camera becomes invariant at ISO 400 so, I'll dial that in knowing I can maximize exposure and have room to lighten in post. I typically bring up an egret (or the white heads of eagles and osprey) by anywhere from 0.5 to a full stop. I'd rather push a bit in post than risk loosing any detail in the feathers. The best light is early morning or late day indirect lighting, or a pleasantly cloudy day when the sky is a ginormous soft box

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richj20 Veteran Member • Posts: 8,156
Modeling lighting
1

Sometimes the difference in light illuminating the bird is so extreme, that no amount of editing will produce a uniform light across the bird.

In these cases, a portrait in "modeling lighting" can be attractive - the sunlight illuminates just a portion of the bird.

- Richard

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ruley74
ruley74 Contributing Member • Posts: 548
Re: Metering on White Egrets

When I had the Canon cameras last year I'd need to be 1-1.5 stops -EV for Egrets, for some reason my EOS R seemed to blow them out pretty easily.

Best tool I have for Egrets now is Nikon cameras with the highlight weighted metering, it's simply excellent for Egrets.

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Snowfella
Snowfella Senior Member • Posts: 1,069
Re: Metering on White Egrets

Rocket13 wrote:

Hello all, back for more tips. So I love shooting Egrets, I don't get to see them often so dont get to practice a ton on them. What I would like to know is how to meter on them to get the best detail out of them. I am sharing a recent shot just as reference. I understand I was not in a good position for the light but I didn't have options .

All depends on what metering mode you use, background and how prominent the Egret is in frame.
I tend to shoot mainly center weighted for birds (although my camera also has highlight protection metering mode) so with an Egret only taking up a fraction of the frame that generally means some negative EC needed, on the other hand one prominent in the frame generally means some positive EC needed.
How light/dark the background is determines how much EC is needed.

Up close with the bird taking up most of the metering area, positive EC needed

Only taking up a fraction of the metering area, negative EC needed

Though I do "cheat" like mad and shoot EVF cameras so I have a live histogram and also if I want it blinkes in the viewfinder, plus I can see the exposure even before taking the shot.

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Morris0
Morris0 Forum Pro • Posts: 16,256
Re: Metering on White Egrets

I've had fun watching how others approach this.  I do it two ways yet both are similar.  On a mirrorless where I can see the results I'm usually using compensation and adjusting by eye.  I then take a photo and check for the flashing highlight warning and move 1/3 stop at a time till it shows up and then dial back 1/3 from the warning.

On an SLR and sometimes on mirrorless and particularity when there is action I'll quote what Popular Photography printed from my interview with them.

I get the exposure as close as possible using a Sunny 16 equivalent in manual exposure.  I then adjust one click at at time till I get flashing highlight warnings.  Then I back off one click.  Most cameras default to 1/3 EV clicks and that's better than 1/2 EV clicks.  Once you are set up this works as long as your subject is in the same light.  This method avoids the issues of how much your subject fills the frame and also changing backgrounds.

Morris

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ThrillaMozilla Veteran Member • Posts: 5,033
Re: Metering on White Egrets

ruley74 wrote:

highlight weighted metering

Wow, there's a tool.  I didn't know about that.  It's exactly how I used to expose color-reversal film.  Now it's called "exposing to the right".*

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* Weasel words required here to prevent endless internet debate (EID).  Technically, exposing to the right implies exposing at the lowest ISO setting.  If you are willing to relax that requirement, then highlight-weighted metering would be almost exposing to the right.  (Please don't debate this term, folks.  It's way beyond the original question, and not needed to answer the question.)

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ThrillaMozilla Veteran Member • Posts: 5,033
Re: Metering on White Egrets

Morris0 wrote:

I then take a photo and check for the flashing highlight warning and move 1/3 stop at a time till it shows up and then dial back 1/3 from the warning.

Trial and error. That works poorly when there is action that won't wait. I like to set the exposure manually, so I don't have to fool around later, but that works poorly if the light is changing.

Either way we're stuffed. Cameras should be smart enough to expose for the highlights, and I'm sure they all will be, r_e_a_l___s_o_o_n___n_o_w -- by which I mean many years from now.

Magic Lantern has a way of kludging this.  According to the step-by-step instructions, it can be done with only 12 steps.  Sigh.

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John Photo Contributing Member • Posts: 918
Re: Metering on White Egrets

ThrillaMozilla wrote:

ruley74 wrote:

highlight weighted metering

Wow, there's a tool. I didn't know about that. It's exactly how I used to expose color-reversal film. Now it's called "exposing to the right".*

And it appears, according to Ruley74, that it is a selectable option in his Nikons...so maybe your "real soon now" is actually "here now"??;-)

ThrillaMozilla Veteran Member • Posts: 5,033
Re: Metering on White Egrets

John Photo wrote:

ThrillaMozilla wrote:

ruley74 wrote:

highlight weighted metering

Wow, there's a tool. I didn't know about that. It's exactly how I used to expose color-reversal film. Now it's called "exposing to the right".*

And it appears, according to Ruley74, that it is a selectable option in his Nikons...so maybe your "real soon now" is actually "here now"??;-)

Notice that I said all cameras, so no, it's not here now.  Mirrorless cameras seem like the best (only?) candidates, but it's good that Nikons have this now.

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Morris0
Morris0 Forum Pro • Posts: 16,256
Re: Metering on White Egrets

ThrillaMozilla wrote:

Morris0 wrote:

I then take a photo and check for the flashing highlight warning and move 1/3 stop at a time till it shows up and then dial back 1/3 from the warning.

Trial and error. That works poorly when there is action that won't wait. I like to set the exposure manually, so I don't have to fool around later, but that works poorly if the light is changing.

Either way we're stuffed. Cameras should be smart enough to expose for the highlights, and I'm sure they all will be, r_e_a_l___s_o_o_n___n_o_w -- by which I mean many years from now.

Magic Lantern has a way of kludging this. According to the step-by-step instructions, it can be done with only 12 steps. Sigh.

Actually it works superbly for action as you set your exposure on arrival.  Note your exposure for white and your exposure for all other subjects.  Then it's simply a matter of moving the exposure wheel a few clicks.  I usually change the shutter speed though for Fuji ISO works best as I can do it in 1/3 EV increments.

Morris

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ThrillaMozilla Veteran Member • Posts: 5,033
Re: Metering on White Egrets

Morris0 wrote:

ThrillaMozilla wrote:

Morris0 wrote:

I then take a photo and check for the flashing highlight warning and move 1/3 stop at a time till it shows up and then dial back 1/3 from the warning.

Trial and error. That works poorly when there is action that won't wait. I like to set the exposure manually, so I don't have to fool around later, but that works poorly if the light is changing.

Either way we're stuffed. Cameras should be smart enough to expose for the highlights, and I'm sure they all will be, r_e_a_l___s_o_o_n___n_o_w -- by which I mean many years from now.

Magic Lantern has a way of kludging this. According to the step-by-step instructions, it can be done with only 12 steps. Sigh.

Actually it works superbly for action as you set your exposure on arrival. Note your exposure for white and your exposure for all other subjects. Then it's simply a matter of moving the exposure wheel a few clicks.

Now I see what you are doing. That's about how I do it too. But it doesn't work very well if the light varies.  Personally, I muddle through, but I miss shots, alas.

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Morris0
Morris0 Forum Pro • Posts: 16,256
Re: Metering on White Egrets
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ThrillaMozilla wrote:

Morris0 wrote:

ThrillaMozilla wrote:

Morris0 wrote:

I then take a photo and check for the flashing highlight warning and move 1/3 stop at a time till it shows up and then dial back 1/3 from the warning.

Trial and error. That works poorly when there is action that won't wait. I like to set the exposure manually, so I don't have to fool around later, but that works poorly if the light is changing.

Either way we're stuffed. Cameras should be smart enough to expose for the highlights, and I'm sure they all will be, r_e_a_l___s_o_o_n___n_o_w -- by which I mean many years from now.

Magic Lantern has a way of kludging this. According to the step-by-step instructions, it can be done with only 12 steps. Sigh.

Actually it works superbly for action as you set your exposure on arrival. Note your exposure for white and your exposure for all other subjects. Then it's simply a matter of moving the exposure wheel a few clicks.

Now I see what you are doing. That's about how I do it too. But it doesn't work very well if the light varies. Personally, I muddle through, but I miss shots, alas.

Ya, a partly cloudy day presents extra challenges.  This is one of the reasons that I love shooting mirrorless as I can see what I will get before dropping the shutter.

Morris

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OP Rocket13 Senior Member • Posts: 3,295
Re: Metering on White Egrets

Thanks all, I will keep working on it and try some of the sage advice. Of course where I found them the other day there were none to practice on today.

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