Welcome to Scribd. Sign in or start your free trial to enjoy unlimited e-books, audiobooks & documents.Find out more
Standard view
Full view
of .
Look up keyword
Like this
0 of .
Results for:
No results containing your search query
P. 1
Understanding Exposure

Understanding Exposure



|Views: 657|Likes:
Published by c_LaRa

More info:

Published by: c_LaRa on Nov 01, 2008
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


Read on Scribd mobile: iPhone, iPad and Android.
download as DOC, PDF, TXT or read online from Scribd
See more
See less





Understanding Exposure
© 1995-2004 Michael ReichmannHistory & MoonshotsWhen I was in my teens (
in the mid-1960s
) and just starting to make my way in the world of  photography in a serious manner,
 brought out the
. This was an SLR, very much inthe modern idiom, but it contained the world's first behind the lens metering system. One had tomanually close down the aperture to take a reading, and notwithstanding the name it
aspotmeter, but everyone who bought one thought that they'd died and gone to heaven. Imagine
acamera that could read exposure through the shooting lens, with filters, bellows extension and all.Damn, technology was advancing so much we might even land a man on the moon one-day.Tables, Charts and SeleniumPrior to this, taking accurate exposure readings was problematic. There were, of course, clip on meters,hand-held meters, extinction meters (
 you're definitely over 50 if you remember these
) and variousexposure charts and tables. There was even that extremely esoteric
Zone System
 Ansel Adams
that everyone in the know was talking about
and not understanding.Hand-held meters primarily had selenium cells
large honeycomb matrixes. Downsides were thatthey could be dazzled by very bright light and they didn't work worth a damn at light levels much lower than a cloudy day.
cells (
cadmium sulphide
) were just coming out and their small size allowedthem to be placed in shutter-coupled clip-on meters and then eventually to become in-built, as with the
Pentax Spotmatic
.All of these with the purpose of helping photographers expose their film correctly.Anyone getting into photography today takes having sophisticated matrix metering systems in their camera for granted. But even these are fallible, and unless one understands what the automation isdoing getting accurately exposed photographs under difficult lighting conditions can be problematicand frustrating. Let's start with some basics.Sunny 16 & BeyondThe extremes of brightness that one encounters in the natural world are not that varied. For this reasonthere is the so-called
Sunny 16 
rule. This says that
on the brightest day normally encountered theproper exposure is roughly the reciprocal of the film speed at f/16
. Thus,
if you are shooting ISO200 film then the exposure will be 1/250 second @ f/16.
This is the same whether you're in Auckland or Amsterdam, mid-summer or mid-winter.From the extremes of a sunny day outdoors down to typical indoor room lighting covers a range of about 10 stops. With the exception of seldom encountered situations like fireworks, cityscapes andmoonlight scenes these 10 stops encompass every lighting situation you are ever likely to encounter.
Only on the ski slopes or at the beach will you need to stop down one more stop beyond Sunny 16 because of reflections off the snow and sand.
So, that being the case, why is exposure so difficult? Most people should have no problem inrecognising 10 different light levels, shouldn't they?The Eye's AutoexposureUnfortunately (
or fortunately, depending on your point of view
), the human eye and brain have a superbautoexposure mechanism built in. This means that once your eyes have adjusted to the current lightingsituation, and without clues as to what is causing the light level encountered, it is almost impossible totell how bright things are on a relative basis. As long as the light level lies somewhere within that 10stop range for most people it all appears the same.This is why light meters, whether built-in or handheld, are such vital tools. But before exploring lightmeters and how best to use them it's worthwhile to have in ones mind a firm idea of what "proper"1
exposure settings are for the ten light levels normally encountered. This way you're not a blind slave tothe meter.
 Let's assume an F stop of 
and a
(film speed) of 
. Here's what these 10 light levels are and the shutter speed that would be needed.
a Sunny day outdoors
1/2000 sec
a hazy bright day
1/1000 sec
a bright cloudy day without shadows
1/500 sec
an overcast day, or open shade on a sunny day
1/250 sec
a heavily overcast day
1/125 sec
deep shade. The woods on an bright overcast day
1/60 sec
 just before a thunderstorm or late on a heavily overcast day
1/30 sec
 brightly lit store interior 
1/15th sec
a well lit stage or sports arena
1/8th sec
a well lit home interior 
1/4 secOf course you would vary the F stop and shutter speed combinations to whatever would be mostappropriate. In the case of a home interior, for example, instead of 1/4 second at f/8 you might choose1/30 sec at f/2.8. The point is though that
these 10 brightness levels represent 95% of the conditionsunder which we all do our shooting.
 What a Meter DoesA light meter does one thing. It tells you what the correct exposure is for 13% Gray. This isapproximately the tonality of green grass or concrete. The meters that are built into almost all camerastoday are reflective meters. This means that they are measuring the light being reflected off the subject.This is a convenient way to determine proper exposure but there are potential problems because grassand concrete usually aren't our main subjects.Fortunately, most of time the mixture of objects in a scene: grass, sky, people, trees, rocks and so forth,when averaged together usually are pretty close to an 13% gray. But, because much of the time thethings that we photograph are not so conveniently neutral in tonality, manufacturers of TTL meteringsystems on cameras have had to go to great lengths to design multi-zone patterns and sophisticatedsoftware algorithms to enable their metering systems to provide pleasing and accurate exposures.Of Black Cats and Snow StormsThe classic examples of how reflective meters can be lead astray are the examples of a black cat in acoal mine or a white cat in a snow storm. In both cases if you were to trustingly use even the mostsophisticated multi-zone matrix metering system you would end up with very badly underexposed andoverexposed negatives or transparencies. The reason, of course, is that the meter sees the black cat andcoal, or the white cat and snow as being 13% gray. Even the smartest computer algorithms can't (yet)understand what the subject is, and since there is nothing else in the scene they will provide "correct" but inappropriate exposures.The smart photographer, knowing this, will dial in some exposure compensation. In fact, because mostamateurs use colour negative film with its wide exposure latitude even this is seldom necessary and noone is the wiser.But, the pro and the serious fine-art photographer typically shoots colour transparency material whichhas a much more limited exposure latitude. With these, if your exposure is more than a half-stop off, particularly in terms of overexposure, you've forfeited the shot.Incident to the RescueAn meter capable of taking incident light readings, like theSekonic L508 reviewed on these pages, features what looks like a half of a golf-ball-sized hemisphere, usually on a swivelling support. To take2

Activity (8)

You've already reviewed this. Edit your review.
1 hundred reads
1 thousand reads
ollestal liked this
ooynoy liked this
Marius Teodoru liked this
shagulhmd liked this
ldoro liked this
Nelly_t liked this

You're Reading a Free Preview

/*********** DO NOT ALTER ANYTHING BELOW THIS LINE ! ************/ var s_code=s.t();if(s_code)document.write(s_code)//-->