exposing for highlights

Discussion in 'Exposure Discussion' started by anyte, Sep 5, 2004.

  1. anyte

    anyte Member

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    Here's a bit of advice I got that I don't understand.

    By exposing for the light rocks (the brightest part of the photo) you insure that there are no blown highlights or hotspots, you can then usually bring up the shadows in post processing. . . . In most situations it is best to expose for the highlights,

    That advice seems to go against everything I've read, which is to expose for the medium tones. I had asked if shooting early in the day would have made a difference and they said no.

    Here's the photo if anyone wants a visual reference of what brought about the comments.
    Photo reference
     
  2. glbeas

    glbeas Member

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    Exposing for the highlights is usually what you do for chromes, not negs. Color negative materials usually have way more latitude than the prints you recieve will lead you to believe. If you need you can use lower contrast versions of print paper to retain the highlight detail, you'll have to ask the real color experts which direction to go with that.
     
  3. jovo

    jovo Membership Council Council

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    Since meters regard whatever they 'see' as a medium tone, the process requires determining the brightness range of the subject and adjusting exposure and consequent development to that. If you simply decide what in your subject actually is a medium tone (like grass or a clear blue northern sky) you may indeed make a 'correct' exposure, but only if you've not exceeded the film's lattitude or, ultimately, the range of the paper on which you make your print.
     
  4. David A. Goldfarb

    David A. Goldfarb Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    Generally, you should expose for the area that will have the minimum density on the film. With negs, that means expose for the shadows, and with chromes then expose for the highlights. If you underexpose the shadows with neg film, then there will be no information on the film in the shadow areas to pull when you print. If you overexpose the highlights with transparency film, then they will have no detail that could be reclaimed later on, if you are printing, scanning or duping, and ideally one wants the original transparency to be exposed correctly as a reference for any reproduction process.

    Exposing for a middle tone or using incident metering works only when the brightness range of the scene does not exceed the latitude of the film. In the studio, incident metering is commonly used, because contrast can be controlled by controlling the light, keeping the brightness range of the scene within the latitude of the film. Many landscapists prefer spot metering, so that the brightness range of the scene can be known and development adjusted accordingly.
     
  5. lee

    lee Member

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    this is something that the late Fred Picker recommended. Place the exposure on Zone VIII and let everything else fall where it might. I have done this and to some degree it works. It is just not very good technique in my opininon. Expose for the shadows and develop the highlights to fit the film.

    lee\c
     
  6. mark

    mark Member

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    SOunds like the person giving the advice is shooting chromes. David gives a really good explanation.

    I do not agree that shooting in the morning would not change things. I find shooting chromes in the morning or very late afternoon to be much easier, with less thought. The range of values is much less and the light is softer. An incident meter held over the head (making sure the dome is lit in the same manner as the subject) and rating the film 1/2 stop less does the trick. With negs you think the opposite way and over expose (by as much as a stop in some cases) as opposed to underexposing In the middle of the day there is too much to worry about and and a lot more figuring involved because the light is so damned harsh (generally uglier too).

    Your reference did not say neg or chrome(or I missed it). Judging by the shadows I would say your shot was done in mid day light, unless the sun is at your back. I like the composition, it reminds me of the old railroad tracks at my grandmother's farm. I'd try shooting in the morning or very late afternoon. You might also want to use a warming polarizor. It is a good investment. It brings out more detail by warming the shadows and darkening the sky. Go to this site to see the difference it can make. I beth that would be a hell of a shot early in the morning as the leaves are changing this fall.

    http://www.moose395.net/gear/moosefltr.html

    Good luck.

    Hmmmm.... don't know if I answered your question or not. If not just ignore what I said.
     
  7. david b

    david b Member

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    When I do landscapes here in NM, I often expose for the highlights and have come out with very nice negatives.
     
  8. anyte

    anyte Member

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    Thanks for all the input. The photo is color negative. I haven't tried shooting slides yet.