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Thread: Merering: Spot Metering, Reflective, Gray Card, Average

  1. #21
    Drew Wiley
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    Re: Merering: Spot Metering, Reflective, Gray Card, Average

    He (as well as I) was referring to the desired threshold of perceptible texture or detail in the shadows, versus blank pure black. But I'll let Doremus explain it himself in detail if he wishes. But some photographers, especially studio ones, prefer to give a margin of safety to their
    exposures, and hence place low shadow texture on Zone III. I don't want to confuse you about this so early in the game; but that advice might cause overexposure problems with certain films like TMax, which are better served by Zone II placement. In any event, many studio still life practitioners didn't pay much attention to the Zone System at all because they knew from experience how to keep the contrast in reign using softer lighting. You'll do fine with a bit of practice.

  2. #22

    Re: Merering: Spot Metering, Reflective, Gray Card, Average

    Quote Originally Posted by Drew Wiley View Post
    He (as well as I) was referring to the desired threshold of perceptible texture or detail in the shadows, versus blank pure black. But I'll let Doremus explain it himself in detail if he wishes. But some photographers, especially studio ones, prefer to give a margin of safety to their
    exposures, and hence place low shadow texture on Zone III. I don't want to confuse you about this so early in the game; but that advice might cause overexposure problems with certain films like TMax, which are better served by Zone II placement. In any event, many studio still life practitioners didn't pay much attention to the Zone System at all because they knew from experience how to keep the contrast in reign using softer lighting. You'll do fine with a bit of practice.
    Thank you! Clear!

  3. #23

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    Re: Merering: Spot Metering, Reflective, Gray Card, Average

    Quote Originally Posted by jurgenestanislao View Post
    Thanks for being patient with my queries, really appreciate it.

    On a last clarification–when you say metering shadows, you're referring to shadows where you prefer to retain detail yeah?
    Drew has answered your question well. Let me elaborate though, at the risk of complicating things.

    There are shadows and there are shadows...

    The standard Zone System practice is to base exposure on a shadow value that you want detail in (i.e., can "see into" and pick out features) and place that in Zone III, i.e., two stops under the meter reading (after you've tested for your E.I., etc...).

    That works fine for starters, but as we refine our technique, we get more discerning about shadow placement. If you want a detailed "black," say a black suit with texture (you can see the cloth, wrinkles, etc.), then Zone III placement is fine. If you want a real inky, textureless black, then Zone I placement might be called for. I often place luminous shadows in landscapes in Zone IV. Bright shadows on snow get a Zone V placement.

    So, start with placing things in Zone III and see if the shadow rendering is what you like. Go from there. Keep in mind that you can always print a shadow value darker, but you can't get detail in a shadow that was never registered on the film, so erring on the side of generous exposure is always better.

    Have fun,

    Doremus

  4. #24

    Re: Merering: Spot Metering, Reflective, Gray Card, Average

    Quote Originally Posted by Doremus Scudder View Post
    Drew has answered your question well. Let me elaborate though, at the risk of complicating things.

    There are shadows and there are shadows...

    The standard Zone System practice is to base exposure on a shadow value that you want detail in (i.e., can "see into" and pick out features) and place that in Zone III, i.e., two stops under the meter reading (after you've tested for your E.I., etc...).

    That works fine for starters, but as we refine our technique, we get more discerning about shadow placement. If you want a detailed "black," say a black suit with texture (you can see the cloth, wrinkles, etc.), then Zone III placement is fine. If you want a real inky, textureless black, then Zone I placement might be called for. I often place luminous shadows in landscapes in Zone IV. Bright shadows on snow get a Zone V placement.

    So, start with placing things in Zone III and see if the shadow rendering is what you like. Go from there. Keep in mind that you can always print a shadow value darker, but you can't get detail in a shadow that was never registered on the film, so erring on the side of generous exposure is always better.

    Have fun,

    Doremus
    Thank you!



    Sent from my Pixel 2 XL using Tapatalk

  5. #25

    Re: Merering: Spot Metering, Reflective, Gray Card, Average

    Spotmeters are tools and like any tool it has limitations and are subject to flare and insufficienty large measurement area to take readings from. The angle that the sun is relative to the scene being photographed (as well as to the meter itself) is a huge consideration. Just come home with some exposed negatives only to start scratching your head relative to why is my shadow detail so piss poor when I know for a fact I gave it more than sufficient exposure and was using my working film speed. Been there and done that. Learned my lesson and moved on. Textbook guidelines on this topic sometimes don't work so good because variables in the field are enormous.

    Secondly, altitude has an enormous effect on metering with a spot meter or any meter for that matter. Significant exposure increases are necessary under these conditions. Another classic metering situation. Full shade photographs where no shadows are apparent and you have maybe a stop to a stop and a half to work with. In these situations I use a Weston V reflective meter with complete satisfaction. I also regularly use a grey card on an as need basis. Taking good notes of more than the final spot readings such as angle of the sun in the sky, angle of the sun relative to the meter, time of day, altitude. Lastly, I find that as photographers we all have this remarkable propensity to pull out the meter and start playing around with it like some necessary ritual we have all bought in to. My recommendation is leave the damn thing in your pocket until you have let your eyes absorb the luminance range in front of you in making decisions as to how you are going to approach the exposure. Gage the significance of the shadow area in your image relative to your final product. Make it more of a visceral rather than a mechanical event to the degree possible. In fact I would say make an attempt at establishing a shutter speed and f stop combination that you believe will work and only as a last resort put that combination on your spot meter and check it for accuracy. You will be surprised at the improvement in your work flow when you integrate this into your field work. My point is any meter is not the end all. Knowing when to make adjustments to any mechanical device you use is when you have command of your process.

  6. #26
    Drew Wiley
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    Re: Merering: Spot Metering, Reflective, Gray Card, Average

    I use a rubber hood on my Pentax spotmeter, and otherwise shade it with a hand or cap, just like a taking lens. It is also multi-coated, unlike some cheaper meters. The whole idea is to read very specific points of reflection; you don't want large measurement areas like an averaging meter. I've successfully worked with both types; but a good spotmeter can identify the specific extremes of contrast in a scene that an averaging system can't. Gray cards don't work too well if what you're reading is on the other side of a canyon or up on a pinnacle. One has to learn to evaluate equivalent midtones through testing and experience.
    But what Michael seems to be hinting at is that mechanical technique is not a substitute for thoughtful evaluation of what you wish to do with the scene. There's more to a performance than just learning how to play the chords.

  7. #27

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    Re: Merering: Spot Metering, Reflective, Gray Card, Average

    Michael,

    You're absolutely right, of course. You're talking here about advanced metering techniques, which may only apply later for a beginner. Still, learning the limitations of one's tools and compensating for them is essential.

    Flare is a real problem with Pentax digital spot meters. Narrowing the angle of view with a hood or shade helps, but often it's just best to recognize the flarey situation and compensate with extra exposure to be on the safe side. Or, knowing when to base your exposure on another important subject value when you know the shadow reading may be inaccurate.

    I've learned over the years that accuracy is elusive, but that striving for accuracy and precision is necessary to just get in the ballpark. Once I start getting sloppy, I end up with negatives that I can't save at all...

    Best,

    Doremus

  8. #28

    Re: Merering: Spot Metering, Reflective, Gray Card, Average

    Quote Originally Posted by Doremus Scudder View Post
    Michael,

    You're absolutely right, of course. You're talking here about advanced metering techniques, which may only apply later for a beginner. Still, learning the limitations of one's tools and compensating for them is essential.

    Flare is a real problem with Pentax digital spot meters. Narrowing the angle of view with a hood or shade helps, but often it's just best to recognize the flarey situation and compensate with extra exposure to be on the safe side. Or, knowing when to base your exposure on another important subject value when you know the shadow reading may be inaccurate.

    I've learned over the years that accuracy is elusive, but that striving for accuracy and precision is necessary to just get in the ballpark. Once I start getting sloppy, I end up with negatives that I can't save at all...

    Best,

    Doremus
    I contend that users of large format cameras using inherently high cost sheet film have a very strong natural incentive to move past the beginner stage as quickly as possible. All they have to do is start printing their work and analyze the results. In order to effectively move the ball on to and up the growth curve I learned one primary rule is mandatory. And that rule is - "Only Change One Variable In Your Process At A Time" otherwise you are attempting to solve multi variable equations requiring endless (and frustrating) iterations and it is hell on earth. Learned that lesson the hard way. Just my $0.02.

  9. #29
    Drew Wiley
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    Re: Merering: Spot Metering, Reflective, Gray Card, Average

    Getting comfortable with any new metering style is just like breaking in a pair of good boots - there will be some blisters at first.

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