Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Creative Metering and Exposure

Greetings and welcome to Hohenfels Volks, THE place for our place! I hope everyone is getting a decent start to the week. The Hohenfels area is beautiful this time of year, as many of you know, and full of go-to places for some great shots.

Today we’re going back a little to some basics. We’re primarily going to look at metering and exposure.

We all know the basics by now, that your meter offers a combination to make the measured area fall at 18% reflectance, or neutral gray. Most of us know that by overriding that proffered setting we can take fuller control and get closer to our vision.

I’ve discussed metering and key stops before, but today we’re going to see how it can be used for maximum impact when combined with our vision.

I’ll be referring to the following photo as an example.

Hohenfels Volks: I UnSubjugated
ISO 125, f/22, 1/2 on Ilford FP4+
I, Un-Subjugated.When we leave the I, or in this case the red, unsubjugated, a wider variety can thrive.

In the above image, both the highlights and shadows were extremely close in values, and were identical with the light shifting as it was. My initial reading was 15 c/f2 for the shadows and 30 for the highlights. The brighter leaves are red and the darker ones are green. Knowing the values were so close, with the red reading about 2/3 to a whole stop brighter, I chose a red filter to bring up the reds and decrease the greens. A red filter allows about 97% of the red light through, while only allowing about 12.5% of the blue and green. It also gives a factor of 8x or 3 stops. Throwing in the aperture decrease, I was shooting with 5 stops less available light for the greens and shadows. By adding 4 stops to their initial reading of 30c/f2, their levels were increased and the red was 2 stops over neutral. In yesterday’s shot, the same leaves and exposures were made, only using a green filter, bringing all the levels more in line with their illuminations.

This is the same shot, and levels as the image I posted yesterday. This will allow you to see how using the tools and techniques at our disposal, we can lead our image and our viewer to the desired result.

When we meter at our key stop, both for highlights and shadows, what we’re learning is the illumination of the subject. The reciprocal of our shutter speed is the amount of illumination, expressed in candles per square foot. By metering off the shadows, mid-tones, and highlights, we have a range of illuminations with which we can work. Those readings will always be the same at any key combination. For instance ISO 100 and f/10 or ISO 400 and f/20. So, we meter 100 foot candles at ISO 400, f/22. At ISO 250, we would set f/16 to get the same results. Now to place that value at somewhat higher value, for instance, we could set our shutter speed to 1/50 instead of 1/100 at f/16 ISO 250, and get a result that is lighter than neutral, by about 1 stop.

Throw in the ability to see our desired results and the steps to get them; an image can be made, not captured. We have several tools to modify the exposure we’ve selected without destroying the original image. With digital photography, shooting RAW gives you complete control. By raising your red tones, and lowering your greens and blues, a red filter can be somewhat approximated, and so on.

By combining exposure, processing, and value controls throughout the photo making session, we can bring our creative expressions to life. The first step to learn is metering and how to use that information. This little tool can be used for a record photo that leaves little to interpretation, and one for the magic of creative photography, as well. You can give voice to your thoughts without uttering a word. Using what you know, and the tools available to you, vision can be brought to life, and given a meaning according to your creativity and visualization.

I hope everyone enjoys the rest of the week and makes an image using their knowledge, tools, and vision to share with all of us! Get out and make it happen, then show us, share what you felt through your images on our Hohenfels Volks Faceboook page.

Is there anything you’d like to see here? Do you have a question? Share your thoughts here or at the Hohenfels Volks Facebook page. Of course, commenting on both Facebook and here is always appreciated, too! Don't forget, we're on Google+, too!

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