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Exposure, highlights, dark areas.
Alot of talk on this forum discusses blown highlights. I've seen many times when dealing with p&s type cameras that people will set their camera, if they can, to -1/3 or even -2/3 EV to prevent blown highlights. Conceptually, I don't have a problem with this, but from experience, I do in some ways. If the camera is truly over exposing the picture, then setting it lower may be fine. But in my own experience, I typically end up with a picture that is under exposed. If I set my camera to the proper 0 EV, then the picture, especially the subject, is properly exposed.

It seems to me that we are making this such a big issue, when the subject of concern is properly exposed. I know sometimes we see pictures of flowers where the white areas wash out. But then if I reduce the exposure setting, I've eliminated the blown highlights, but underexposed the rest of the picture for the most part..

So how does one really determine a properly exposed picture? Are highlights or contrast areas mutually exclusive to a properly exposed picture? Should I shoot to reduce highlights or shoot to correctly expose dark areas?.

I do know that it is harder to bring down highlights PP than it is to bring up the dark areas PP..

Dj..

Comments (6)

Blown is blown. a truly blown out are is white and one will not get any detail out of it. That is why when some cameras overexpose, one needs to back off on the EV comp. My Pentax DS usually gets the exposure right but my Samsung NV15 consistently overexposes 0.3 EV...

Comment #1

This is more of a 'dynamic range' issue than an 'exposure' issue. On a bright sunny day, a scene with a lot of bright highights and deep shadows can be correctly exposed but will still have blown highlights and no shadow detail. A DSLR has considerably less dynamic range than the human eye. On a 'grey' day with neither bright highlights nor deep shadows a correctly exposed picture will go from light grey to dark grey will detail in all areas..

Best wishes.

Mike..

Comment #2

DjarumBlack wrote:.

So how does one really determine a properly exposed picture? Arehighlights or contrast areas mutually exclusive to a properly exposedpicture? Should I shoot to reduce highlights or shoot to correctlyexpose dark areas?.

There is no such thing as a properly exposed picture. Some people like to believe in this fantasy, but basically the technology is not there to do this. When you photograph something ( as has always been the case ) you are trying to get a balance between what can be recorded, what you want to show ( and that could be a mood or emotion, not just an image ), and the limits of the moment. You are limited by the equipment, but an experienced ( or talented ) photographer can use their equipment to great effect - experience counts..

The theory I go by is the idea of "exposing to the right", which you can check out on the web. The basic principle is that you cannot recover blown highlights, so try to avoid them at all costs. If you underexpose you can post process the shot to get something better, although usually that compromises the shadow areas, but with care ( and RAW,) this is less of an issue. So what I would (reluctantly) call perfect exposure is, I suppose, avoiding blown highlights while getting as much light as possible into the shot..

Remember - if you make a scene too bright ( without blowing the highlights ) then you can always reduce that brightness in post processing. If you blow highlights you cannot..

Contrast relates to local tonal gradient, whereas highlights are simply bright areas. Contrast can be between any tonal level. They don't really have a connection..

StephenG.

Pentax K100DFuji S5200Fuji E900PCLinuxOS..

Comment #3

If all subjects in frame are in -2 to +2 gap (use spot meter). You should be able to get them all by setting exposure from most bright subject at +2 - (snow white area of brightest cloud)..

If at high contrasty conditions this gap is bigger att that is brighter then +2 will be blown out, darker thn -2 - black..

Proper exposure should be set by main subject (person's face for example)..

It could be an array of subjects (beautiful landscape during sunrise). You will need to use Neutral Density Graduated filters or DRO or HDR at such challenging conditions..

Http://www.stan-pustylnik.smugmug.com..

Comment #4

It rather depends on the contrast range and the type of the scene. I usually set my camera to -1/3, but sometimes it could vary from -2 to +2 stops actually..

Http://lordofthelens.smugmug.com/..

Comment #5

DjarumBlack wrote:.

Alot of talk on this forum discusses blown highlights. I've seen manytimes when dealing with p&s type cameras that people will set theircamera, if they can, to -1/3 or even -2/3 EV to prevent blownhighlights..

Blown highlights is not the sole domain of p&s cameras, but with small sensors and narrow DR, it can be a bigger problem with them (ie, if you are conservative and eliminate ALL blown areas, often the shadow detail is non-existant)..

Conceptually, I don't have a problem with this, but from experience, I do insome ways..

Whoa there buckaroo...do you have a problem or not? From experience, I can't tell in some ways! .

If the camera is truly over exposingthe picture, then setting it lower may be fine. But in my ownexperience, I typically end up with a picture that is under exposed..

Then don't do it?.

If I set my camera to the proper 0 EV, then the picture, especiallythe subject, is properly exposed. Now some areas, especially lightfrom the background, may be blown out. It seems to me that we aremaking this such a big issue, when the subject of concern is properlyexposed. I know sometimes we see pictures of flowers where the whiteareas wash out. But then if I reduce the exposure setting, I'veeliminated the blown highlights, but underexposed the rest of thepicture for the most part..

Use your histogram. It will notify you when things are blown out. Some cameras will even show you WHAT is blown. Adjust the exposure until you like the result. Sometimes, I choose to let the sky blow out (I like the effect at times)..

So how does one really determine a properly exposed picture? Arehighlights or contrast areas mutually exclusive to a properly exposedpicture? Should I shoot to reduce highlights or shoot to correctlyexpose dark areas?.

In general, I'd suggest you adjust the exposure until there are just a few blown highlights. Then in PP, use the Shadows and Highlights tool to bring up the shadow areas a bit (if you need to). The look of a pic is a personal thing!.

Charlie DavisNikon 5700 & Sony R1HomePage: http://www.1derful.infoBridge Blog: http://www.here-ugo.com/BridgeBlog/..

Comment #6

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This question was taken from a support group/message board and re-posted here so others can learn from it.

 

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