Estimating Exposure

Discussion in 'Exposure Discussion' started by Eric Rose, May 8, 2012.

  1. Eric Rose

    Eric Rose Subscriber

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    Time and time again we see posts from newbies wondering how to expose their images. A very good resource and something that will hopefully wean you from your meter is this webpage by Ed Buffaloe. His website unblinkingeye.com is a wealth of information for the beginner and serious photographer alike. Too bad we don't see Ed very often anymore but I hear he is into guns more than cameras these days.

    I am sure the purists will find fault with something on the page, they always do, but for the most part it's good common sense advise.
     
  2. zsas

    zsas Member

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    Good stuff Eric! Love how it has a link to the Ultimate Exposure Calculator.

    I always find it fun to have a print out of the Exposure Factor Relationship Chart and pick the exposure then test my hypothesis. Really helped me 'see'
     
  3. ic-racer

    ic-racer Member

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    Link to nice article. Actually this is the information 'experts' use to guide exposure :smile:
     
  4. tessar

    tessar Subscriber

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    I might just add that if you are in the far north, e.g. in the Canadian city where Eric and I live, it's usually better to use the sunny 11 rule. I've tested this many times with an accurate light meter, and the sunny 16 rule only seems to apply if the subject is directly front-lit by the open sun.
     
  5. Eric Rose

    Eric Rose Subscriber

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    Yes you guys have it right on! Any of us that have been at it for awhile, in my case over 40 years, don't really need a meter for most things. It's this "learning to see" that is important. Hopefully this article will serve as a first step for those beginners that want to truly master their craft.
     
  6. mark

    mark Member

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    Hmmmm....To be a true master of the photographic craft you should ween yourself from the light meter? Guess this guy was a rank amateur.

    If I was a street photog or someone who shoots on the run this article was useful and had good information.
     
  7. Vaughn

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    Probably the best part of the article for me. Ninety percent of my photography falls outside of the usefulness of the article (in the redwoods or other woods with varying density of tree cover, varying fog and cloud cover, etc.)

    Vaughn
     
  8. winger

    winger Subscriber

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    I like the descriptions at the beginning and they're definitely helpful. That's pretty much how I've used my old screwmount Pentax as well. But I'm starting to try and wrap my head around bellows factor and such in LF and that section just has way too much math. Anything that requires a calculator is just not going to happen in the field. Or likely anywhere with me.
     
  9. Eric Rose

    Eric Rose Subscriber

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    Well AA did a pretty good job of estimating when he had to. I bet if someone took his meter away he could still make better exposed negs than most can with meters. That comes from experience. He had a system to promote and his name was tied to it so if anyone saw him not using a meter it would damage his "brand". Something he was very aware of.

    Naturally there are situations where using a meter helps but if you spent most of your time in the woods taking photos I bet after awhile you could estimate what your exposures should be.

    My philosophy is to be more aware and less mechanical. And you know what? It's just the way I do it. I'm not saying it's the right way or others are wrong, just right for me. For me fussing with meters, notes, framing devices etc. is a distraction and keeps me from appreciating the nuances presented before me.
     
  10. zsas

    zsas Member

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    Agree, I use a meter all the time but I do try to predict what the meter will say and double check it. Heck one day my meter could fall and shatter to bits and all my practice will come in handy! Regardless if one uses one or not, the above and subsequent link to the Ultimate Exposure Calculator is joy!
     
  11. jnanian

    jnanian Advertiser Advertiser

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    thanks eric,

    its all about not being oblivious, and paying attention ---
    too many of us are oblivious and don't pay attention ...
     
  12. Old-N-Feeble

    Old-N-Feeble Member

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    Huh? Whah?? Did someone say something about metering? I dunno cuz I'm oblivious...

    SPOT METER... and know how to use it!! :D
     
  13. CPorter

    CPorter Member

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    I'm not one for "weaning" myself off my light meter, I see no value in that; someone said, estimating with greater accuracy, I belive that. But I do believe in being ready when I may not have it or the batteries die, like the author is suggesting. I think it's great stuff, very practical.
     
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  15. Old-N-Feeble

    Old-N-Feeble Member

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    I'll definitely agree with what CPorter wrote but I'll add... ALWAYS bring an extra battery.
     
  16. Vaughn

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    I have an extra meter for road trips (Pentax Digital Spot in the LF pack and a Pentax V Spot meter in the car). And a Gossen SBC in my MF bag -- nice for the low light situations. And an extra battery or two..:D
     
  17. baachitraka

    baachitraka Subscriber

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    Explanation about incident metering in BTZS book is invaluable.
     
  18. jnanian

    jnanian Advertiser Advertiser

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    O-n-F
    glad you know how to use a spot meter ...
    but the majority of people have no idea how to use a light meter ( spot or the other kind )
    or if they don't have a meter for whatever reason how to translate the light they see with their eyes
    and their experience in similar situations ...
     
  19. bdial

    bdial Subscriber

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    I carry the extra battery for my meters in my eyes. :wink:
     
  20. Old-N-Feeble

    Old-N-Feeble Member

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    Maybe someone needs to start a "How To" thread for scene interpretation and final print visualization then explain the use of a spot meter to transpose said interpretation/visualization to film exposure and development. The ZS need not be explained... just provide "ballpark starting figures" which the reader can tweak as he/she experiments.
     
  21. michael_r

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    Reading Adams is plenty good for that. Then it comes down to practice, learning to think through the end-to-end process in the field (film exposure to final print, as opposed to just blindly using zone system formulas to make a negative).
     
  22. Old-N-Feeble

    Old-N-Feeble Member

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    Yes, Michael, but some folks are afraid of the ZS because they think they won't understand it. Explaining metering, exposure and processing can be done much more simply and, with today's emulsions, "ball park" really is close enough.

    EDIT: I'm referring to today's negative emulsions, not slide film.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: May 10, 2012
  23. michael_r

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    Then there are other good books that explain how to meter in simpler terms. It really isn't difficult under most conditions, and with practice visualization becomes easier. Either way, this business about not using a meter, or not needing a meter is silly. All that does is decrease the probability of getting a good exposure, or possibly impress the ghost of Brett Weston. Bah.
     
  24. mark

    mark Member

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    With the cost of 8x10 film and my limited budget I will use the one tool I have to insure a perfect exposure. I guess my up bringing and 4 years as a boat mechanic taught me to use the correct tool for the job. Half assed is not an option.
     
  25. E. von Hoegh

    E. von Hoegh Member

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    I'll keep my meters, too. But - that website in the original post is very interesting, it will help you use the meter better, believe it or not.
     
  26. Vaughn

    Vaughn Subscriber

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    But who needs a meter if this is on your camera! :D
     

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