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  1. #11

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    Wow, I had no idea that this was so complicated. I simply meter off my hand in the same light (adding a little exposure for my brownish wife or blackish pussycat), or just go w/ whatever the meter, in camera or in hand, says. It always looks good to me, and I'm fussy about this sort of thing. Maybe it's because I shoot Tri-X exclusively? It's pretty darned hard to screw up w/ that film. I do generally use a spot meter, but even w/ center weighted metering it always looks good. I never have any trouble nailing exposure w/ portraits.

    For my purposes, using the right lens in the right light is the most important stuff. A soft side light from a window works great. I have to explain things to a new sitter, but I generally get a camera or meter right in the person's/cat's face, take a reading, lock exposure, back up, focus, and shoot. After that initial reading, fire away. But truthfully, unless there's just a lot of bad light (in which case I shouldn't be shooting a portrait anyway), just pick a distance, meter, and shoot. It's really about the right light. If I'm not exactly sure what look I'm after, bracket. And take LOTS of shots if it's important. You can never take too many shots when doing portraits, because you may never have that sitter in that light again.
    Last edited by momus; 11-19-2013 at 01:54 PM. Click to view previous post history.

  2. #12

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    Getting a portrait that your sitter likes can also be an issue, broad lighting for a skinny face, short lighting for a fuller face, all need to be metered correctly to give a full range of tones, fortunately the internet is a vast pool of knowledge and all of the techniques required can be found with a little bit of endeavour.

  3. #13
    baachitraka's Avatar
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    Incident meter, if you have uniform lighting.

    Spot meter(Reflected meter), one reading on the face and add +1 stop to it.
    OM-1n: Do I need to own a Leica?
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  4. #14

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    The simplest way is to do what Jane Bown did. Put the subject next to a window, shoot at f/2.8 1/60s. Print it.

  5. #15

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    Quote Originally Posted by RalphLambrecht View Post
    KISS
    I just use an incident meter in front of the face towards the camera.Don't turn it into a science or your sitter gets bored.
    What Ralph said. IMHO, with portraits, it's not about the exposure. It's about the expression.

  6. #16
    wiltw's Avatar
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    Incident meter, or use an 18% grey card target to fill the frame of your camera and add +0.5EV to the reading.

  7. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ed Bray View Post
    Take a reflected reading from the face, the usual adaptions have to be made after an assessment of the subjects skin type has been made:

    Open up one stop for Caucasian Skin, as the reading for Asian/Middle Eastern Skin and close down one stop for Black skin, there are a couple of minor changes you can introduce, for very white skin (Nordic types) open an additional 1/2 stop (open 1.5 stops in total) and for very Black skin close down by a further 1/2 stop (close down 1.5 stops in total).
    OK, so we are making whiter skin whiter and darker skin darker? I understand that middle greys don't look too good for white skin, so we want to over expose a little, but I am a little unsure that you would want to under expose with darker complexions.

    Or am I mis-understanding?

  8. #18

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    Quote Originally Posted by hoffy View Post
    OK, so we are making whiter skin whiter and darker skin darker? I understand that middle greys don't look too good for white skin, so we want to over expose a little, but I am a little unsure that you would want to under expose with darker complexions.

    Or am I mis-understanding?
    No, you are not mis-understanding, if you want really dark skin to look lighter than it really is then just use the reading obtained from the light reflected from the dark skin, if you want it to look like it should then close down a stop or more.

    By doing this, you are not under exposing, you would be 'correctly exposing', if you just use a reflected reading obtained from the dark skin you will over expose as the meter doesn't know what you are metering from and would give you a reading based on 18% grey reflectance, it would in fact assume it was a very dark 18% grey and skew the reading suggested to cope with the lack of reflected light. As you are 'not' metering from an 18% grey but a darker tone you have to make the adjustments to the reading obtained to give you the 'correct' tones in the final image.

    If you don't want to take the word of someone who was doing this professionally for 20+ years, you can always go and try it yourself?

  9. #19
    Claudia Moroni's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by hoffy View Post
    OK, so we are making whiter skin whiter and darker skin darker? I understand that middle greys don't look too good for white skin, so we want to over expose a little, but I am a little unsure that you would want to under expose with darker complexions.

    Or am I mis-understanding?
    I don't think you're underexposing if you adjust the exposure to a stop less for people with very dark skin. It depends by the person skin tone, but I find middle grey to be a better translation in black and white of the skin tone of people with lighter dark skin (if that makes sense).

    Personally I use an incident meter and place it under the person chin towards the camera.

  10. #20
    Terry Christian's Avatar
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    Yes, hoffy. Keep in mind that the meter reading is giving you an average tone, middle gray (Zone V). Individuals will vary, of course, but Caucasians are generally a stop lighter (Zone VI) and African-derived skin tones are about a stop darker (Zone IV).
    My skin tones are Caucasian (Northern European). If you meter my face and use that reading, you are effectively placing my face at middle gray, which will be too gray. You need to open up a stop. Or, you could just meter off a gray card held in front of my face (i.e., in the same lighting) and get an accurate reading that way without having to adjust.

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