blond/blue eyes/pale skin : exposure?

Discussion in '35mm Cameras and Accessories' started by pierods, Jan 5, 2012.

  1. pierods

    pierods Member

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    Hello,

    I am from southern Europe, and I always find photographing northern types a challenging enterprise.

    Last time I did, I spot metered the skin of the face, I gave it a +1 stop, and I lost all detail in the hair (and in the environments).

    How do I nail it?


    [Administrator/power user: could you move my post to "exposure"? I did not realize there was such a category.]
     
  2. EASmithV

    EASmithV Member

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    You might have to create a more controlled lighting environment (makeshift studio). Have you tried a fill flash?
     
  3. pierods

    pierods Member

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    I can do that, but the person also wants outside photos...
     
  4. tomalophicon

    tomalophicon Member

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    If black and white, try reduced exposure or a reflector.
     
  5. pierods

    pierods Member

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    Yes indeed, black and white. A reflector is some kind of surface that throws light back on the face?
     
  6. maarten m

    maarten m Member

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    why not meter incoming light rather then reflected light?
    this should give you a far more accurate reading.

    mm
     
  7. markbarendt

    markbarendt Subscriber

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    Scrim a bit (add a bit of artificial shade).

    Also using an incident meter or a known target (gray card or something similar) with your spot meter should help.
     
  8. RalphLambrecht

    RalphLambrecht Subscriber

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    rHim him resume purseaise and him the price!
     
  9. baachitraka

    baachitraka Subscriber

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    Any ideas where the hair fell on exposure scale? How that film was developed?...
     
  10. Sundowner

    Sundowner Subscriber

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    I'd like to see some suggestions here, as well...I've got a project that I'm working on and I've been concerned about the same problems.
     
  11. brucemuir

    brucemuir Member

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    I'm betting strong sidelight or overhead daylight because if he placed the face one stop above middle gray even blonde hair shouldn't really blow. Especially on film.

    I'd like to see a sample shot so we could better diagnose the lighting issues...
     
  12. keithwms

    keithwms Member

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    You might think about a compensating developer to give yourself a bit of safety with highlights. But it sounds to me like an issue of metering. Another thing is that my people (=fair skinned) tend to show blemishes very easily, and for that you may want to filter in the direction of red.

    Fair hair is hard in uncontrolled top light, it blows out very easily. A bit of fill (reflector or flash) should allow you to boost the ambient light and thus meter in such a way as to keep the hair in range. A warm reflector would be nice. Wish I had one following me around always :smile:
     
  13. tkamiya

    tkamiya Member

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    I do a good amount of outside portraits.

    Even with not so fair skin and hair, it's hard to control proper exposure in broad daylight. I even had a situation where reflection on nose or part of forehead caused issues and she wasn't white skinned.

    I understand you are shooting outside but are you shooting in broad daylight in sunny areas? That would cause problem with any type of subjects. How about finding a nice softly lit area where it is in shadow but lit by light reflecting from nearby objects? (ie. open shadow) Or use a reflector to create your own? Or use a scrim if you must? I think your problem isn't really your exposure setting of your camera but an excessive contrast created by too harsh of lighting. (ie. direct sun light)
     
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  15. brucemuir

    brucemuir Member

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    BINGO!
     
  16. jnanian

    jnanian Advertiser Advertiser

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    expose for the highlights
    and develop your film and extra 30%

    have fun !
    john
     
  17. wiltw

    wiltw Subscriber

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    The palm of my hand meters +1.5EV brighter than an 18% gray card. If you metered the skin of a fair complexioned person from the north, and only gave the exposure +1, their skin was actually overexposed by +0.5EV (assuming their skin was as light colored as the palm of my hand). The RIGHT way to expose would be simply to meter an 18% gray card or to use an incident light meter, with the exposure setting on camera exactly as suggested by either meter, and the skin would then show up +1.5EV brighter than the 18% gray card in the photo!
     
  18. John Koehrer

    John Koehrer Subscriber

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    Shoot in open shade and be aware the background is going to blow out
     
  19. Jim Noel

    Jim Noel Member

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    wiltw is on the right track,but was diverted to a siding.
    No matter the ethnicity of a person, meter their palm, place it on Zone VI and their skin should record correctly.
    More than 30 years ago two friend and I experimented with this. I am Caucasian, one is African American and the other Hispanic.
    We tried varying lighting conditions, and several films. The objective was to make it easier to get proper exposure of each individual in a multi-ethnic church congregation regardless of the light. It was successful.
     
  20. ME Super

    ME Super Member

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    Metering off the palm of your hand (with your hand in the light that the subject is in!), then opening up +1 stop will assure you get the skin tones placed properly.

    However in days of yore, LF photographers would shoot a few Polaroids to make sure they nailed the exposure, then take their final exposure on their 4x5 or 8x10. I've done the same with my d*g*t*l P&S and my 35mm in tricky lighting situations. I've taken several exposures with varying exposure compensations on the P&S. Once I nailed the amount of exposure compensation I wanted on the P&S, I dialed in the same compensation on the 35mm and took the shot, knowing that the exposure on film would give me the look I wanted. Basically the d*g*t*l P&S served as my Polaroid before committing the shot to film.

    ME Super
     
  21. jerry lebens

    jerry lebens Member

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    Either
    1) Place your subject in the shade
    2) Use diffusion to reduce the high contrast light from the sun.
    3) Use reflectors to reduce the imbalance between direct sun and shade (although this can make subjects close their eyes, due to the brightness of the reflector).

    Combinations/permutations of all three may produce the best results.

    Regards
    Jerry
     
  22. benjiboy

    benjiboy Subscriber

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    +1, Take an incidental light reading from the subject position with the dome pointed towards the camera.
     
  23. darinwc

    darinwc Subscriber

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    grey cards

    Actually 18% grey cards are darker than middle grey.

    But besides the point, if you are having blown out highlights, wouldnt you want to reduce the exposure instead of increase?
     
  24. Leigh B

    Leigh B Member

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    Stop using a spot meter.

    Meter ambient (incident) and you'll be spot on.

    - Leigh
     
  25. darinwc

    darinwc Subscriber

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    If the subjects face was correctly exposed, then your metering technique is fine (for the main subject). As others have said, it may be that the scene was just too contrasty. In other words, the difference between the light value of your main subject and the secondary subjects was too great. No amount of metering or camera controls is going to help.

    It is not enough to have the main subject properly exposed, you want the whole scene properly exposed. One thing you will want to do in high contrast situations (strong daylight) is to evaluate your scene. Take a reading from your main subject and the darkest and lightest parts.

    If the scene is too contrasty, there are multiple things you can do depending on the situation.
    1. Use less contrasty film.
    2. Use the zone system and expose for N-1/etc.
    3. Add more light to the main subject or the darker subjects using a flash or reflector.
    4. Darken the bright areas with a scrim, graduated neutral density filter, colored filter if shooting black and white, or sometimes a polarizer.

    In your case, I would use a reflector or flash to add more light to your subject. You cant really use a scrim on the background, but it may help on the hair.
     
  26. benjiboy

    benjiboy Subscriber

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    I agree, incidental light meters are "highlight meters", and won't "blow the highlights" which is the O.Ps problem, IMO it's nothing to do with fill in flash or lighting it's purely an exposure error.