Measuring Exposure – Pt2

For the second part of this exercise, I have taken 5 sets of 5 images all based around the exposure measured by the cameras light meter. The centre image is the measured exposure and the two either side move down or up by half a stop.

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With this set of images, my preference is the image half a stop under the measured exposure. The slight underexposure has helped raise the saturation of the greens and blues and emphasises the shadows without completely loosing detail. In the 1 stop under exposure the shadows are to strong and with the metered exposure or higher, I feel the image starts to feel washed out and flat.

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This image is all about the silhouette of the tree and it’s shadow. For this reason, I chose to try and hide the sun behind the branches of the tree. It’s interesting to see that I don’t have a strong preference for any of the images as the intention is still clearly visible. However, with the exposures under the measured level, I feel the shadows are to strong and to much detail is being lost. With the exposures over the metered level, colour in the sky is being lost. For these two reasons, I think I would choose the metered image.

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With this image, my preference is for the whole stop under exposure from the metered image. Due to the scene being mostly dark and in shadow, the metered image has compromised the highlights in the sky leaving an over exposed section of the image in the top corner that is distracting from the main subject and increasing exposure only adds to this distraction. By the time the exposure is one stop under the metered level, the detail in the highlights are kept and the trees reflection in the water is at it’s strongest.

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I feel with this set of images it shows that no amount of exposure adjustment alone is going to make for the most pleasing image possible as the contrast between the very bright sky and the heavily shadowed tree roots are just to much for the camera. As mentioned in part 1 of this exercise, compromises have to be made if we’re going to use a standard single capture from the camera. However, other options are available . For this image, there is a definite ¬†horizon line the could have worked well with the use of a graduated ND filter placed along the horizon line. Also, it would have been possible to use multiple exposure and combine them together in post production. Whatever method would be used though, the compensation used would have needed to be greater than 1 stop.

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Finally, this set of images is similar in lighting to the first set of images and my preference is the half stop under the metered exposure. At this point, the contrast between the reflection and the bank side is best emphasised without loosing to much detail in the shadow areas.

Final Thoughts

This exercise has looked at the exposure that can be chosen by the camera and whether this exposure can be improved. The day the images were taken was a bright sunny day a number of hours after sun rise meaning the sun had reached a point that it would provide strong shadows and high levels of contrast giving the cameras metering system a hard time and forcing compromises to be made. Some times, the metering system will get the exposure to the point of capturing the image that we desire but in a lot of cases it won’t. Also, in these conditions, there will be times when no amount of exposure adjustment is going to be able to cope with the high levels of contrast and other photographic aids will be required.

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