View Full Version : Test run for level 2 assignment - WHAT A DISASTER

08-07-2012, 07:38 PM
I went out to do a test run for the Level 2 assignment and it did not go well to say the least. The first thing I noticed was this exercise was to relax, slow down, and take your time. Instead I found it very stressful because there seemed to be so much pressure to make every picture count. (That was not what it was like when I shot film (actually slides)).

The first thing that is very obvious is I screwed up on the exposure. Normally, I would take a meter reading, snap the picture and then look at the histogram. I would then adjust the settings according to what the histogram said for future shots. This time I didn't have the luxury of taking a picture first. I tried to be very careful metering for the correct exposure. I tried metering off of something that was close to 18% grey. This obviously didn't work. I am now completely confused as to how to meter.

1. What should I meter off of? I remember with my film camera I would meter off of something neutral grey or even green, like grass or trees and this seemed to work pretty well. However with the dslr this did not seem to work. Also grass and trees give a completely different meter reading to something that appears to be neutral grey.

2. I currently use spot metering. Maybe I should be using something different. Therefore when should I use spot metering and when should I use something like evaluative.

3. Any other suggestions in metering for the right exposure would be appreciated.

Anyway, I've posted the bad news. Since I shot in raw + jpeg, I at least had the raw file to try and salvage the image (and those are the second postings)

08-07-2012, 07:40 PM
2nd picture

08-07-2012, 07:42 PM
3rd picture

08-07-2012, 07:43 PM
4th picture

08-08-2012, 12:43 AM
I've been fascinated by the challenge presented by the assignment as well, and have been planning my shots and doing some test shots with my point and shoot. This is handy because I can still use my DSLR for other things. I'll post the tests soon I hope.
I like your choice of subject matter for sure. Your jpeg shots seem to be duller than usual, but I don't see anything wrong with your exposures per se. You point out that you have processed the "second" RAW shots so they are sharper and have much better contrast. I am guessing here, but I wonder if you haven't got "picture styles" set to Neutral rather than Landscape or Standard. This setting affects jpeg processing quite a bit, so might change the way your shots turn out. Also I think you could check your white balance settings to see if you are using a cloudy setting for a cloudy day as in your examples, or something else.
Thanks for posting these. It's good to know at least one other forum member is intrigued.

08-08-2012, 01:11 AM
I'll probably get corrected on this by someone with more knowledge, but I think I'd dispense with the thoughts of metering off of a medium gray and focus more on getting the crosshairs on some medium light if you're going to spot meter scenes like these. I mean, it's not like you're trying to avoid a color cast on a white wedding gown. It appears to me that maybe dialing in -.5 to maybe even -1EV in exposure compensation would have had you in the ball park.

08-08-2012, 08:20 AM
This is a difficult assignment - thanks for being the first to try it a snow. I will try mine likely this weekend. Your exposures except for shot 2 (overexposed) look decent to me.

here's a general rule on metering. I use evaluative or Matrix metering 98% of the time. I recommend people become very familiar with this type of metering before they attempt to play with spot metering. It works very well in most cases. Metering off a grey card, imo is a hassle in nature photography but it will give you good results.... but not better results than the camera meter you carry in your camera if you use it well.

The camera averages out the tones on every scene you meter. Guess what it uses to compare the average against? MID GREY.

The camera can only capture a limited range of tones in 1 frame. (this is why skies are such a huge problem when you don't use HDR or neutral grad filters in landscape photography....the sky is SO much brighter than everything else that you can render detail in the sky or in everything else...but not both)

IMO - it's best to look at each scene individually. use your eyes FIRST to evaluate the contrast (light at high noon on a cloudless sunny day for example is way harsher and brighter and produces more contrast than sunset light) and look to see if there is an even representation of tones.

A normal scene has a nice variety of tones from light to dark and a normal meter reading should work well.

IF the scene is very bright and has a preponderance of light tones - the camera will often screw this up and underexpose the scene. Solution - add more exposure into the scene.

IF the scene is too dark or there is a dark preponderance of tones - The camera will often screw this up and overexpose the scene. Solution - cut the exposure.

How much to add or cut....depends of course on the level of brightness or darkness.

Hope that may help

08-08-2012, 09:04 AM
I'm about 5 shots in, and finding similar issues regarding not wanting to waste a shot. I already have one accidental shot where I bumped the shutter button. It sure is tough. You also can't "risk" certain subjects like things that are fast moving or hard exposures. I also haven't worked out how to shoot in B&W in camera. An interesting extension to this assignment would be to then PP the shots and see what we would really do with them.

08-08-2012, 07:03 PM
First, I forget to mention that this is the Scarborough Bluffs in the east end of Toronto. I can't believe it, I've lived in the Toronto area all my life (basically in the northern and western suburbs) and this is the first time I've been to the bluffs.

MBrager - I always shoot raw + jpeg, however I have only ever used the jpeg so I can see the thumbnails in windows explorer. I have always (except maybe for the first month I had the camera) used the raw files in Lightroom to make any PP adjustments. After you mentioned it I checked the setting for the jpeg in the camera styles and it was set for standard. Perhaps I should set this according to what I am taking pictures of. In this case 'Landscape'. For one thing I need the saturation boosted.

Marko - Thanks for the suggestions.

1. You said "The camera averages out the tones on every scene you meter. Guess what it uses to compare the average against? MID GREY." - That's why I was trying to find something "Mid Grey" to spot meter off of. It obviously didn't work well. I only mentioned something green like grass as that is what I used when I didn't find mid grey when I was using my film camera and it seemed to work out reasonably back then. I actually took seven pictures (one the wasted one), but I only posted four of then to illustrate my difficulty.

2. I will give the evaluative metering a try. I have been using spot metering 100% of the time and that I guess is a mistake (at least for now)

3. You say " look to see if there is an even representation of tones". I'm not quite sure how to judge this. If it is B&W it seems obvious, but when it is colour then this seems much more difficult to determine. Are you simply saying - 'dark tones', what is left on the histogram and 'light tones' - what is right on the histogram.

4. Based on these pictures, even though it was somewhat darkish clouds (if you look there are no shadows), I guess it is still a reasonably bright sky. What would you think would be the exposure compensation. I'm just guessing say 2/3 of a stop????

5. I have no idea what happened with the second one. Looking at my adjustments in Lightroom, I was about 1 1/2 stops overexposured

AntZ - I glad I'm not alone in finding this difficult. I was starting to feel like a rank beginner again. The same thing happened to me. I accidentally wasted wasted a shot. I had my shutter half way down taking a meter reading when a bug bit me on my leg. I jumped and accidentally snapped the picture.

08-10-2012, 12:00 PM
I'll give you my insights for spot metering since I only ever use spot metering. To me, however, every scene is different so I have different approaches.

1) Portrait (or at least a person is in the scene) - I will try to spot meter on their face and get as close to an accurate representation of the person as possible. Caucasians will come in a 1/3 or possibly 2/3 over the middle bar where as African Amercians will come in 1/3 or possibly 2/3 below the middle bar.

2) Landscape. If I'm worried about not blowing out the sky I meter it to be just at the +2 side (far right on Canon) and let the rest fall where it lands. Unless I am focusing on something specific within the scene then I'll meter that at where I believe it fits on the scale and let the sky blow out if it has to do so.

3) With other "generic" scenes I will meter off the main subject trying to best estimate what zone it should fit in within the scale. Everything else falls where it falls.

That's my :twocents: ... YMMV :)