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Thread: Determing correct exposure

  1. #1

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    Determing correct exposure

    It would be informative to have others share their steps in deciding what exposure to use before taking the shot. A brief step by step of description would be very helpful.

  2. #2

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    Re: Determing correct exposure

    I meter the scene, transfer the settings to the camera/shutter, and expose the film.

    You're asking a huge question here. There are three types of metering, reflected, incident, and spot - which is a type of reflected metering. You have various philosophies, too - zone system and so on. Some like to estimate with the sunny 16 method.
    Then you have the scene and it's infinite variations and illuminance/reflection ranges.
    One man's Mede is another man's Persian.

  3. #3
    8x10, 5x7, 4x5, et al Leigh's Avatar
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    Re: Determing correct exposure

    For the vast majority of scenes...

    Meter incident. Take the shot.

    If you're doing in-studio flash, meter the main light. Take the shot.

    Lots of people get really hung up on the Zone System.
    It's a great tool for unusual situations, where the added level of control can improve the results.
    It's completely unnecessary for most scenes.

    - Leigh
    If you believe you can, or you believe you can't... you're right.

  4. #4

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    Re: Determing correct exposure

    Duplexed incident metering.
    You can't depend on your eyes when your imagination is out of focus. ~ Mark Twain

  5. #5

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    Re: Determing correct exposure

    So far good answers. This is a huge question but it has huge importance. For example, what do you meter? You look at a scene and specifically how do you meter the scene?

  6. #6
    8x10, 5x7, 4x5, et al Leigh's Avatar
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    Re: Determing correct exposure

    Jerry,

    You're off on the Zone System thing. Ignore it.
    It's an advanced technique that may be desirable in certain situations.
    To learn it, get Adams' book The Negative (I think that's the one that explains it).

    Learn to do incident metering.
    Point the dome of the meter straight at the camera lens from the subject position.
    Read the meter. Use that exposure. That's it.

    If it's not convenient to meter at the subject, as with landscapes,
    just point the meter in the direction of the camera lens and measure.
    I usually hold it up over my head, pointed backwards.

    This is not rocket science. And it's not "hugely" important.
    You seem to think that there's one and only one "correct" exposure for a particular scene. Not true.


    - Leigh
    If you believe you can, or you believe you can't... you're right.

  7. #7
    tgtaylor's Avatar
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    Re: Determing correct exposure

    If I'm standing in the same light as the subject, then I will take a grey card reading and check around the subject to see how that exposure will play out and make any adjustments.

    Thomas

  8. #8
    Kirk Gittings's Avatar
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    Re: Determing correct exposure

    I'm with Thomas on this. And when I am not in the same light as the subject (this is where a spot meter earns its money) I meter off something off a know value like a light rock that is the same value approx. as my hand and place it on ZVI. etc.-super easy. The exposure part of the ZS is not that hard and quickly becomes second nature-get Picker's Zone VI manual for the easiest intro.
    Thanks,
    Kirk

    at age 67
    "The woods are lovely, dark and deep,
    But I have promises to keep,
    And miles to go before I sleep,
    And miles to go before I sleep"

  9. #9

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    Re: Determing correct exposure

    The only time I pull out the Zonie stuff is when I have very weird lighting and/or I want total control over what the neg will eventually look like (specific densities for scanning etc). For 90% of what I shoot a simple incident reading or a spot reading off an important object (for placing the value) or something I know from experience will read around 18% gray is quite sufficient. For my first few years in LF I obsessed over all the Zone stuff and in the end found it was not worth the bother for most things. I had shot K25 for years and had great exposures so just used the same techniques I employed for 35mm with LF and everything was just fine. Ansel didn't come down from the heavens and burn any bushes beside me.
    *************************
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    I don't play the piano, I don't have a beard and I listen to AC/DC in the darkroom. I have no hope as a photographer.

  10. #10

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    Re: Determing correct exposure

    Quote Originally Posted by Jerry Cunningham View Post
    So far good answers. This is a huge question but it has huge importance. For example, what do you meter? You look at a scene and specifically how do you meter the scene?
    With duplexing the main light is metered directly and then pointing at the camera is measured. The readings are averaged to find the camera setting.

    The end.

    Well darn close anyway. Beyond this are normally artistic choices, not technical ones.
    You can't depend on your eyes when your imagination is out of focus. ~ Mark Twain

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