Do You Want Perfect Outddoor Exposure?


posted on 27th of may, 2009


Here's the secret to getting a perfectly exposed outdoor shot every time - (as long as your subject area is within the 5-stop dynamic range of the camera's metering system)

1. Know how your camera handles exposure-( I know that mine overexposes between 1/3 and 2/3 of a stop-depending on lighting conditions)

First, calibrate your camera's meter:

a) Set camera mode to “P”/P-shift“, or “A/AV” Use Matrix/evaluative metering-(Scene should contain all tones within dynamic range)
b) Hold +/- button, (On Nikon’s, Near shutter button: Canon‘s is to the right of LCD screen) and turn command dial to + 1.0 - take a shot

Next ……………………………….................turn command dial to + 0.7 - take a shot
Next………………………………..................turn command dial to + 0.3 - take a shot
Next………………………………..................turn command dial to - 0.0 - take a shot
Next………………………………..................turn command dial to - 0.3 - take a shot
Next………………………………..................turn command dial to - 0.7 - take a shot
Next………………………………..................turn command dial to - 1.0 - take a shot



You will have 7 shots from + 1.0 to - 1.0 study these for one with detail in shadow and highlight areas, without blown highlights (Switch on the “blinkies” to show blown highlights)
Set exposure compensation (+/-) to this best shot reading, and keep it there for all outdoor shots
Once set up, this will be pretty accurate.

Set metering to "spot metering" mode
Set auto bracketing to 2/3 EV (With camera calibrated as above you should not be more than 1/3 EV(0.3) out at any one time)

Use A/Av mode to select depth of field

set white balance to appropriate Kelvins as below:

Where, with film you either shot print film in daylight or with flash indoors, and with slide film, you used daylight or tungsten film, or used compensating filters with these. White balance is Digital’s version-you select a white balance based on the condition of the light you are using, so the camera’s meter allows for white to photograph as white
Auto white balance does a reasonable job most of the time, but it cannot cope in some situations-especially when subject is in deep shadow. You need to know when to use the white balance settings for all situations, and this table will help you understand: ( degrees Kelvin is a means of determining colour temperature)

Sunrise/sunset 2400-3000 Kelvin……………………Use Auto white balance
Tungsten lighting 3200-3500 Kelvin ……………………Use tungsten/Incandescent white balance
Fluorescent lighting 4000 Kelvin …………… Use fluorescent White balance
Early morning/afternoon sun 4000 Kelvin…….Use auto white balance/ --fluorescent white balance
(Magenta filter) to counter greenish cast on skin from foliage if under trees or on really green grass
Noon sun/Sun overhead…5000-6500 Kelvin…………………….use Cloudy White balance
Flash photography in daylight 5500 Kelvin ………………………Use Flash White balance
Deep shade………………….6500 Kelvin…………………………Use cloudy/shade white balance
Shade in daylight 7500 Kelvin ………………………………......Use shade white balance
Heavy overcast, very dark shade 8000 to 10000 Kelvin………Use shade white balance plus 81a-85c glass filter

To set custom White balance: (Nikon)

Select a neutral coloured object to set your white balance
It’s best to avoid using a white target. The camera prefers grey..( Print yourself a grey card: In photoshop- File> New
Click on background square in toolbox
select 127;127;127 from color chart-Print)

In white balance menu select "Custom"> "Preset" (Nikon)
select "measure"
Press shutter release halfway to return to shooting mode
press wb button until a blinking "Pre" appears in control panel and viewfinder
frame reference (grey card) so it fills the frame
and press shutter release all the way down (Camera won't take picture)
If camera was able to register a value for white balance "Good" will flash in control panel and GD will flash in viewfinder
If lighting is too dark or bright "no g d" will flash in viewfinder and control panel

If you use white in direct sunlight you'll always get a "No Gd" response from the camera because the Matrix meter is rendering it white instead of grey. Thus the trick is to select the centre-weighted meter when using a white reference in bright light and you'll get "Good" from a camera. Remember to set back to Matrix metering as soon as you're done.

Ok, so you are going to have problems if some images you want to make, are outside the dynamic range of the camera: So here's the plan for that:
With camera on tripod: meter for highlight, take a shot-then meter for shadows, take another shot.

In Photoshop:

1. Add lighter image to darker as a new layer, ,( click on Move tool, hold down "shift" button, and drag lighter image over to darker, then release)then:
2. Select> Color Range-Click highlights
3. Check “invert”, click “OK”.
4. Add layer mask. Click on layer mask
5.Filter> Blur> Gaussian Blur 250 pixels. Click "OK"
Flatten and save. You will get detail in highlights and shadows.

Now you know how to get perfect exposure-

Comments (4)

Comment by AliTu on October 28, 2012

I forgot a lot and it's very useful for me to read this article after years again, best regards!

Comment by Lawrenceh2o on June 07, 2009

that was vary useful can u teach me more about that??:)

Comment by Petroruth on May 27, 2009

thank you for sharing your knowledge some of it is starting to slowly sink in.

Comment by Tracy0703 on May 27, 2009

I like your articles. They are very useful.




This article has been read 1056 times. 5 readers have found this article useful.
Photo credits: Kenneth Caleno.
 
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