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Photography Question 
Jessica Rae Hardy
BetterPhoto Member Since: 3/12/2005

Understanding Exposure

I just took a photography course, and I still have no idea when it come to understanding the meter. What exactly do I do when I want to make black look black and white look white?

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3/13/2005 8:09:36 PM

Justin S.   One, you could take a meter reading off the black and then take a meter reading off the white to see how many stops of light difference there is, and just make your compensation from there. (Use a middle value.) If the black gives you a slow shutter speed and the white gives you a fast one, go for a shutter speed that will split the speed equally between the two of them. Another thing you can do that is really easy is buy a grey card from a photo store and use it to meter from in the same light. The grey card will give you a middle value between black and white. Hope I helped you some.

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3/13/2005 9:25:11 PM

Justin S.  

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3/13/2005 9:25:13 PM

Chris L. Hurtt   There is a book called "Understanding Exposure" by Bryan Peterson. I learned everything I know from that book. He also teaches a class here at BetterPhoto under the same name. I highly recommend the book and the class.

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3/13/2005 10:21:30 PM

Tony Sweet
Tony's Photo Courses:
2-Week Short Course: A Quick Start to Adding More 'Pop' to Your Images
  I agree with Chris. Get Bryan's book; it's the bible of understanding exposure. Using the gray card is fine, but the card has to be in the same light as your subject. If your subject is beyond arm's length away, it won't work. The secret to exposure is knowing what an average tonality is. Average tonality is not only 18-percent gray, it's 18-percent everything (blue, green, brown, yellow, etc.).

But don't worry about the 18-percent thing. It takes time to learn average tonality. The process that I use is something like this: When looking at a subject, I ask myself the question, "Is the subject brighter or darker than average?" Let's say it's brighter. Then I know that I'm going to open up to let in more light than the camera meter says I should (so the meter will be on the "plus" side). Then I ask myself, "Is the subject a little or a lot brighter than average?" If I feel that it's a little, I open up to +1/2 stop and take a picture, then bracket by opening up +1 stop and take another picture. If I feel it's a lot brighter than average - like a very light subject - then I'll begin at +1 and take a picture, then to +1 1/2 and take another picture. You'll only have to do this process a few times to get an idea of how exposure works. TIP: Never meter black, and meter white at +1 1/2 and +1 2/3.

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3/14/2005 4:02:59 AM

Melissa  L. Zavadil
BetterPhoto Member Since: 2/26/2005
  OOOOH, I just ordered that book yesterday, I can't wait to get it. I hope I will start to understand all this better!

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3/14/2005 5:53:06 PM

Robert Hambley
Thanks for jumping in, Tony Sweet. Your answers to the various questions have helped me a lot. (I can't wait to take your Fine Art Flower Photography course ... probably this fall ... I need Photoshop lessons first, since trial and error is taking too long.)
One thing I have learned, if there is snow in the frame, I start out at +2/3 and increment up to 1 1/3 using the exposure compensation. But, as Tony pointed out, bracketing is the key here.
Good Luck.

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3/15/2005 8:34:36 AM

Marjorie Amon   I don't understand. If the subject is "brighter than average", why would you be letting in more light?

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3/15/2005 10:21:04 AM

Robert Hambley
  This is because the meter gets "fooled" by bright scenes, like snow, and will set the exposure too low, resulting in greyish/blue snow, instead of white.
So you let more light in through exposure compensation, in order to get the snow white.
Hope this helps ...

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3/15/2005 1:50:28 PM

Maria Melnyk   Hi, easiest way, if you have a hand-held meter: Use an incident reading (with the dome covering the sensor). This measures the light falling on the subject. Point it at the camera, and your exposure will be accurate regardless of the color of your subject or surroundings.

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3/16/2005 4:29:32 PM

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