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Portraiture exposure metering

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mike77 View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Quote mike77 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 16 February 2012 at 04:42
One question: if I shoot RAW, is really that important when taking the picture whether exposure compensation should be 0, +0.7, or +1.0?

As I understand it, RAW should give you enough room to change these exposure settings when post-processing.

After reading this article, I am not sure I am right though.

Edited by mike77 - 16 February 2012 at 04:59
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Photosopher View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Quote Photosopher Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 16 February 2012 at 04:50
I mean this in the kindest way, but shooting RAW is no excuse for poor metering.

Sure you get plenty of latitude with RAW files to take them up or down. But when dealing with hundreds, perhaps thousands of images, it's nice to have them close to proof ready right out of the camera.

I remember shooting with other togs at the beginning of digital. "We'll just fix it in post production... put the extra work on the client dime". Those studios didn't last very long. Those who lasted were the ones who shot digital with just as much care as the film togs. We respected the client dime.

The production side is the boring part keeping us from shooting more. We should consider doing everything possible to shoot it right in the field, in order to make post processing as quick and easy as possible... IMHO.

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Photosopher View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Quote Photosopher Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 16 February 2012 at 14:44
Originally posted by kozmo kozmo wrote:

...my first attempt shows I need much more work...







Wow kozmo... I don't know how much more work you really need on these. They look perfect. The goal here is to get proof quality images right out of camera. I'd say you accomplished that in spades. Did you have to do anything to them?

Your WB looks fine for these shots. If that's natural window light, I'd say you hit it around 5500-6000K on a cloudy day... warmed up northern light? Well it looks like Auto WB the way it's shot. No problem for quick grab portraits. But there is a tad of inconsistency in the color between them.

On first gaze, they have a very classic feel. Pardon the pun, but your metering is spot on for that glowing face. It speaks to the viewer, inviting them in to share the spirit of the subject. Your highlights are well within range, before blowing out, the skin tone glistens. The shot is spirited, inviting, very approachable. Your shadows are deep enough to show contrast, yet not blocked up. They have enough detail to relate mood.

Really, the metering on these is perfectly executed. Assuming subject stays at the same distance from light source, then a complete session of consistent images can be captured, in automation, with a simple toggle lock spot reading on face. Very nicely seen and executed kozmo.

Edited by Photosopher - 16 February 2012 at 14:50
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kozmo View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Quote kozmo Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 17 February 2012 at 01:40
Thanks for the reply. I have taken flat portaits sometimes and this +1 exposure seems to help in that respect, but I felt these still needed help. Compared to the sample pics in the post especially. I only spent a little while setting this up to try, so I am happy with the results. I look forward to trying it out some more later. The sample pics are so beautiful and have so much color that they pop off the page. I posted a link to this article on dpreview and only one person responded. I'm amazed more did not check this out or try it. Their loss I guess. Thanks again for posting!
A850 vg, A57 A33. Zeiss 135 1.8, Tamron 200-400 17-50 2.8
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Post Options Post Options   Quote rickztahone Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 17 February 2012 at 03:43
TFS, very great read. In situations where the lighting isn't that great, granted, it wouldn't be a pro shoot, more of a personal, grab the camera as fast as you can situation, how would you meter then? When does your WB settings change?
a99+VG|a77+VG|a55|Nex6|HVL-56/58|minO|58 1.2|24|Tam|90|SAL||16-50|70-200|∑|50 1.4|∑| 24-70 2.8
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Post Options Post Options   Quote kozmo Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 17 February 2012 at 14:40
Sorry I forgot to mention that I blended a little under her eyes where darker lines appeared. I also bumped saturation a little and clarity. A small vignette.

Thanks again for your kind words. I aspire to take better portraits and this has helped.
A850 vg, A57 A33. Zeiss 135 1.8, Tamron 200-400 17-50 2.8
Minolta 100 f2, 50 1.7, 85 1.4 RS, , 35-105, sony 30 macro, tokina 19-35, Beercan.


 



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Post Options Post Options   Quote 9000AF Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 17 February 2012 at 15:29
Clyde, great read, thank you for sharing! Very good information for someone who only shoots more formal portraits a few times per year. I really need to start using reflectors. I have also been using spot metering and lock since the 9000 and 600si film days and have always appreciated the ease of use and reliable outcomes. I completely agree with your point of using a small and light "invisible" camera especially when working with kids. For me the A55 and the old Tokina AT-X 28-70mm f/2.8 set to f/4 in A-mode and the Sigma 50-150mm f/2.8 are filling the role nicely.
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Photosopher View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Quote Photosopher Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 17 February 2012 at 18:30
Originally posted by rickztahone rickztahone wrote:

...grab the camera as fast as you can situation, how would you meter then? When does your WB settings change?


I appreciate that. I worked as a photojournalist for six years and understand that sometime you just have to get the shot quickly. But let's be honest and distinguish between grab shots and portraits. Sometimes a quick flip to full AUTO (AF, ISO, Settings) will allow for the fastest grab shots. But you know we did it back in the film days too, with full manual everything. For quick grabs back then, WB wasn't an issue because the film was usually B&W. It's not very difficult to look at a room and know the range of exposures. For instance, from experience, walk into any HS gymnasium and realize your settings will be somewhere in the range of 1/250th f2.8 iso1600 wb3000K. That might not be perfect, but I'd bet a plucked chicken it's pretty darn close. Then know the mid court is brighter than under the net. Just think about the light.

Quick grabs today are for P or AUTO modes. But more than five seconds passes and I've returned to A-Priority with a quick spot meter lock/toggle. If there is time to point the AF sensor, then there is time to spot/toggle lock a reading. If further time is permitted, then a proper spot meter on face is performed with the appropriate exposure compensation.

Shooting RAW always, I've resolved to having two main WB. 5000K and 3000K, depending upon situation. I may hit 4000K for mixed daylight and tungsten. Most florescent lights are closer to 4700K these days (depending on age). But for those that aren't, around 6500K will get close.

Regardless, my camera is always on RAW for the freedom to fine tune WB later. Haven't shot a JPG in years.
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Photosopher View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Quote Photosopher Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 17 February 2012 at 18:33
Originally posted by 9000AF 9000AF wrote:

...I completely agree with your point of using a small and light "invisible" camera especially when working with kids. For me the A55 and the old Tokina AT-X 28-70mm f/2.8 set to f/4 in A-mode and the Sigma 50-150mm f/2.8 are filling the role nicely.


Sounds like a great kit for accomplishing excellent portraits. You've got a pretty thoughtless setup, and that's the goal... make that equipment disappear. Nothing should stand between you and subject interaction. Your kit also translates to other shoots too. Would also make for travel and photo J, small product... Good to have the basic ranges covered so well.
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Post Options Post Options   Quote bartman Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 18 February 2012 at 21:52
It works! Thank you Clyde for this free lesson.

This one is straight from my a580 with minolta 50/1.4.

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Post Options Post Options   Quote NamirPro Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 23 February 2012 at 08:10
thanks. this is really helpful
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Post Options Post Options   Quote tomiZG Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 23 February 2012 at 08:57
Thank you Clyde, it's a very interesting approach. I get more and more jobs (events, especially) where I have to hand the photos immediately to the client and I have no chance to run them through my Lightroom presets.

My Lightroom portrait presets have a +0,7 Exp.comp. dialled in, some B/W even +1,5, now I know why

It also reminds me of a good article I read on Rolando Gomez Lens diaries blog, also a very good read, btw.

I love your work, btw.
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Post Options Post Options   Quote Photosopher Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 23 February 2012 at 16:41
Originally posted by bartman bartman wrote:

It works!

This one is straight from my a580 with minolta 50/1.4.



Absolutely perfect bartman. The highlights are bright and alive without blowing and the shadows have plenty of detail and depth. You hit this one spot on. The nice thing about getting such wide latitude straight from camera is that you've got what I call a really "fat file" to tweak more with contrast, saturation for final printing. There is lots of "room" to work this image. Great job!
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Post Options Post Options   Quote Photosopher Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 23 February 2012 at 16:48
Originally posted by tomiZG tomiZG wrote:

My Lightroom portrait presets have a +0,7 Exp.comp. dialled in, some B/W even +1,5, now I know why


Yep, that's why. And by doing it in camera provides a better file to work with for final treatments too. You'll be able to add your special effects to a deeper level before the file starts breaking up. Stuff that doesn't show up on web will suddenly appear on quality printing. Exposing it brighter to begin with allows manipulation without losing IQ.

Originally posted by tomiZG tomiZG wrote:

...reminds me of a good article I read on Rolando Gomez Lens diaries blog...


Good read about reflectors and black cards. There are many approaches to portrait illumination. Experiment to find a signature style that works for you... and is consistently repeatable.
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