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Newbie Metering Question
Another newbie here, with a newbie metering question. First, a little background&.

Many moons ago, I had a Pentax MZ-M. I enrolled in a few B&W classes and started to take some pictures. While I cant say that I ever did anything particularly good, a photog friend of mine (whose work I really like) told me that I had a decent eye, but that my technique pretty much sucked. I dont know if he meant my darkroom skills or my photo-taking ability. I suspect both. Anyway, along came two kids in two years and suddenly I no longer had the time nor the inclination to process negatives in my washroom.



I got a digital p&s and was fairly happy with the snaps (mostly of those children) that came out of it. But, then I found myself wanting more. So here I am, the proud new /img/avatar9.jpg of a Pentax K1OOD Super who has forgotten everything I ever knew (or never learned) about SLR photography. I sorta get shutter speed and aperture on a basic level, but metering stumps me. Right now, I just frame something that I think is interesting and let the camera tell me what SS or aperture to use (depending on which one I want to change.) But that doesnt always work. So, where should I meter? The most neutral part of my composition? The lightest? Darkest? Help me, oh sage photographers...

Comments (17)

Shooting in RAW mode, the common way to meter is to set exposure so that the histogram is to the right of center but without any part of it touching the right hand edge of the chart. Then during raw conversion, you adjust the exposure back down to what you want which is usually a somewhat centered histogram. This method makes the best use of the dynamic range of the sensor...

Comment #1

Msquared08 wrote:.

Right now, I just framesomething that I think is interesting and let the camera tell me whatSS or aperture to use (depending on which one I want to change.) Butthat doesnt always work. So, where should I meter? The most neutralpart of my composition? The lightest? Darkest? Help me..

You can probably recover the knowledge you lost by reading this site: http://www.kodak.com/.../global/en/consumer/products/techInfo/af9/index.shtml.

This article also has a great deal of useful information: http://www.fredparker.com/ultexp1.htm.

My preference is to use the spot meter option in manual mode and meter something I'd like to render a medium tone, such as green grass. Failing that, maybe I'll meter off an evergreen tree then reduce exposure by a stop so it looks darker than mid-tone. Or I could meter off my palm and open up a stop. The trick is to learn to recognize the tonal values of different things you see and use that information to get the effect you want from your metering and exposure setting options. Here is another article I saw today as I was looking for helpful information (and I think I'll go take a gray card walk myself): http://home.nc.rr.com/tspadaro/The_Grey_Card.html..

Comment #2

Thank you both..

Quite frankly, RAW sorta scares me, but I'm up for the challenge..

The Kodak article was just what I was looking for (along with the advice about the grass and your palm) As for the grey card, I am sure that my husband has one somewhere (along with a Sekonic hand held meter) left over from his film school days. Maybe it's time to go look in the attic. However, I think that I will master my camera's meter before I decided to use the Sekonic...

Comment #3

Actually, Raw is easier in a way than JPG. It lets you be lazy with white balance, gives you more latitude for adjusting exposure and gives the most control over your image. Set your camera to RAW+JPG and this gives you the best of both...

Comment #4

Msquared08 wrote:.

However, I think that I will master mycamera's meter before I decided to use the Sekonic..

I have the Samsung GX-1S, which is similar in operation to your K100D Super. Though I have a hand-held spot meter that has served me well, I find I can rely on the in-camera meter for virtually everything. It's got a smaller spot meter area than my Contax 167MT had, so it can be aimed fairly precisely, and the camera's implementation of AE-L makes it almost as quick and easy as aperture-preferred automation..

I keep my camera on manual exposure mode with the spot metering pattern selected (I also use the OK button to engage auto-focus using just the center AF point, but that's another issue). Then I set the AE-L button to adjust the shutter speed automatically when it is pressed in manual mode (option 2, Tv Shift, under "AE-L bttn on M expsr" in the Custom menu; see page 146 of your manual)..

Exposure setting becomes very easy this way:.

1. I hold the +/- Av button on the top of the camera and turn the control wheel to set my aperture..

2. I aim at something I want to meter from and press the AE-L button (you don't need to hold it down, just press and release; I might have to first tap the shutter release to "wake up" the metering system)..

3. If I want what I metered from to be medium-toned, I'm done. If I metered from something I need to be something other than medium, I turn the control wheel to alter the exposure accordingly..

Example: With aperture set to F/8, I metered off a patch of snow to take a picture this afternoon. Since snow is very light, I increased the exposure two stops by turning the control wheel four clicks to the left (I use the default 1/2 EV steps for changing the exposure settings rather than the optional 1/3 EV stepspage 148). This changed the shutter speed from 1/1000 to 1/250 (ISO was at 400), and gave me exactly the exposure I wanted..

This takes far longer to read about than to do. Since settling on this set-up some time ago, my fingers know what they're doing and I don't have to give it much conscious thought anymore. I simply point the camera at an object, my thumb pushes the AE-L button and then, if needed, rotates the control wheel a certain number of clicks either left or right to render that object the desired tonal value. Simple, accurate, and consistent...

Comment #5

Msquared08 wrote:.

Quite frankly, RAW sorta scares me, but I'm up for the challenge..

RAW scares me, too, but I'm not yet up for the challenge. NickC20D's advice about using RAW+JPG is a good one, but our cameras don't allow that. I don't know how the Pentax software is that came with your K100D Super, but I haven't been able to use the Digimax Master that came with my GX-1S to get a RAW image to look as good to me as an in-camera jpeg, and the way the RAW image first opens up on screen looks nothing like what I saw when I took the shot..

It's subjective, of course, but I find I get pleasing and natural results with my camera set to the Bright image tone with saturation at -2, sharpness at +2, and contrast at -2; on rare occasions I'll miss the even more reduced contrast that -2 gives when in the Natural image tone setting, but then even +2 sharpness appears a bit too soft. All in all, I'm very pleased with ease and consistency of getting proper exposure and white balance at the point of capture, as well as the scope and range of in-camera image processing, and I have no desire to spend extra processing time on my images post-capture...

Comment #6

Http://www.photozone.de/Technique.

Msquared08 wrote:.

Another newbie here, with a newbie metering question. First, a littlebackground&.

Many moons ago, I had a Pentax MZ-M. I enrolled in a few B&W classesand started to take some pictures. While I cant say that I ever didanything particularly good, a photog friend of mine (whose work Ireally like) told me that I had a decent eye, but that my techniquepretty much sucked. I dont know if he meant my darkroom skills ormy photo-taking ability. I suspect both. Anyway, along came two kidsin two years and suddenly I no longer had the time nor theinclination to process negatives in my washroom.



I got a digital p&s and was fairly happy with the snaps (mostly ofthose children) that came out of it. But, then I found myselfwanting more. So here I am, the proud new owner of a Pentax K1OODSuper who has forgotten everything I ever knew (or never learned)about SLR photography. I sorta get shutter speed and aperture on abasic level, but metering stumps me. Right now, I just framesomething that I think is interesting and let the camera tell me whatSS or aperture to use (depending on which one I want to change.) Butthat doesnt always work. So, where should I meter? The most neutralpart of my composition? The lightest? Darkest? Help me, oh sagephotographers..

Rafy Sugirihttp://www.flickr.com/photos/rafysugiri/sets/http://bighugelabs.com/flickr/dna.php?username=79015415@N00.

Image control:Zoom outZoom 100%Zoom inExpand AllOpen in new window..

Comment #7

Jrtrent wrote:.

And I have no desire to spend extra processing time on my images post-capture..

BINGO! Me neither, but I do see the value of it. Maybe my next step will be to learn how to use Photoshop for more than just cropping out stuff I don't like..

As far as being up for the challenge of learning RAW, what's the worst that can happen? I take a bunch of crappy photos? I'm gonna do that anyway.   I guess I would be pretty bummed if I messed up "the great one that got away" but that is how we learn, right?..

Comment #8

Jrtrent wrote:.

I don't know how the Pentax software is that came with yourK100D Super, but I haven't been able to use the Digimax Master thatcame with my GX-1S to get a RAW image to look as good to me as anin-camera jpeg, and the way the RAW image first opens up on screenlooks nothing like what I saw when I took the shot..

I have the Pentax software that came with my K100D also Photoshop, Lightroom and a couple of other things. At this point the camera's JPEGs are better than what I can process from RAW. The K100D doesn't have a RAW + JPG option. I figure I'll just work on composition and exposure for the moment and go for RAW once I regularly start taking pictures worthy of it. There is soooo much to learn.

DavidDallas, TX..

Comment #9

David:.

Good plan. Me too. I actually haven't looked at the software that came with my camera. I did get PSE6 for Christmas, but I admit that I wanted it so I could make cheesy dvd slideshows for the grandparents. I KNOW that isn't using it to the fullest potential...

Comment #10

DSHarned wrote:.

I have the Pentax software that came with my K100D also Photoshop,Lightroom and a couple of other things. At this point the camera'sJPEGs are better than what I can process from RAW..

Thanks for that; it's nice to know it's not just me, and you've got a lot of processing options available to you..

The K100D doesn'thave a RAW + JPG option. I figure I'll just work on composition andexposure for the moment and go for RAW once I regularly start takingpictures worthy of it. There is soooo much to learn.

As a result of this thread, yesterday I went to the library to check out a book that would explain RAW processing a little better to me. The author had a section on "doomed images," ones with fatal flaws that no degree of Photoshop skill could make capable of "ultimate image quality": blurred photos (poor focus, insufficient depth of field, camera shake), poor framing (pictures requiring severe cropping, or simply bad composition), exposure problems (though RAW can help with this, it won't "match the quality of an image that was correctly exposed"). Yes, maybe RAW can "squeeze out the last ounce of quality from your pictures," but, as you said, there's a lot to learn and practice even to get RAW files worthy of the extra work, then the learning curve to use the software to get RAW files looking better than the camera's jpeg engine does at the point of capture...

Comment #11

Msquared08 wrote:.

David:.

Good plan. Me too. I actually haven't looked at the software thatcame with my camera. I did get PSE6 for Christmas, but I admit that Iwanted it so I could make cheesy dvd slideshows for the grandparents.I KNOW that isn't using it to the fullest potential..

PSE is certainly a good place to learn. It has most of Photoshop's features and is more affordable for most of us. I have both on various home/office/laptop computers, but am still a real novice. I'm thinking of taking a class at a local community college and/or getting involved in a local group..

Back to your original question, I use spot metering most of the time and use it almost like a hand held meter. I zero in on that area such a face like I used to with a meter. Jrtrent gave some good metering procedures..

I see you're new to the forum. Welcome aboard!DavidDallas, TX..

Comment #12

I see you're new to the forum. Welcome aboard!.

Thanks for the welcome!..

Comment #13

Hi,.

I have to ask:.

A, don't you have access to centre weighted metering? It's often the best for tricky subjects..

B, do you look at the histrogram afterwards and then re-take (OK, it isn't always possible)?.

C, do you look to see where and why you went wrong? Like back lit and landscapes cause problems but the tricks are to use spot metering or open up (adjust EV) by about 1 stops and, for landscapes, to point the thing down to exclude the sky and half press the shutter to "hold" the reading..

And sunsets, another favourite, meter to the side of the sun and then do another on -1 EV as well..

Usually it pays to meter on the subject alone, so go for the blue in bluebells and ignore the woodlands..

Regards, David.

PS The best software for looking at EXIF's (and then doing a spot of analysis) is EXIF Image Viewer from:.

Http://home.pacbell.net/michal_k/..

Comment #14

Welcome to the world of PentaxForget RAW it wont help in learning how to use your camera..

Look at this site, print it out and keep it as a reference you will find it answers all your questions on a single pagehttp://www.pbase.com/ericsorensen/image/52955921/large..

Comment #15

David Hughes wrote:.

A, don't you have access to centre weighted metering? It's often thebest for tricky subjects..

Yes, and muti-segment metering and spot metering. Since I've only had the camera three weeks, I've been using the multi-segment metering but haven't been 100% happy with the results..

B, do you look at the histrogram afterwards and then re-take (OK, itisn't always possible)?.

Immediately afterwards, like when I'm out and about with the camera? No. At home, yes but honestly, I couldn't read a histogram if you paid me..

C, do you look to see where and why you went wrong? Like back lit andlandscapes cause problems but the tricks are to use spot metering oropen up (adjust EV) by about 1 stops and, for landscapes, to pointthe thing down to exclude the sky and half press the shutter to"hold" the reading..

Of course, that is why I'm asking this question. Mind you, as you can see from my below examples that I took with the multi-segment meter, it's not like they have awful glaring mistakes. It's just that something seems a bit "off.".

This barn for example, is overexposed. It was pretty washed out in real life, but I wanted it to "pop" a bit more..

1/90 5.6 400 ISO.

Image control:Zoom outZoom 100%Zoom inExpand AllOpen in new window.

And the snow isn't as white on these buses as I would like it to be..

Image control:Zoom outZoom 100%Zoom inExpand AllOpen in new window..

Comment #16

Msquared08 wrote:.

David Hughes wrote:.

A, don't you have access to centre weighted metering? It's often thebest for tricky subjects..

Yes, and muti-segment metering and spot metering. Since I've onlyhad the camera three weeks, I've been using the multi-segmentmetering but haven't been 100% happy with the results..

Well, 100% happinest is rarely achieved but experience helps with minor adjustments to the EV compensation. Just keep trying and - of course - minor repairs can be done with the editing software afterwards..

B, do you look at the histrogram afterwards and then re-take (OK, itisn't always possible)?.

Immediately afterwards, like when I'm out and about with the camera?No. At home, yes but honestly, I couldn't read a histogram if youpaid me..

Naughty! You should RTFM. You don't have to pay me but a bland and boring picture will have a bell curve (symmetric around the centre) when correctly exposed. Of course, few subjects are 18% grey all over and a bit of common sense works wonders..

Looking at the curve say to yourself "On the right is far too bright". As I said you don't have to pay me but if you have a Leica or any Leica accessories you don't want, I'll take them off your hands....

C, do you look to see where and why you went wrong? Like back lit andlandscapes cause problems but the tricks are to use spot metering oropen up (adjust EV) by about 1 stops and, for landscapes, to pointthe thing down to exclude the sky and half press the shutter to"hold" the reading..

Of course, that is why I'm asking this question. Mind you, as you cansee from my below examples that I took with the multi-segment meter,it's not like they have awful glaring mistakes. It's just thatsomething seems a bit "off.".

This barn for example, is overexposed. It was pretty washed out inreal life, but I wanted it to "pop" a bit more..

Hmmm, well, um, have you tried looking at the pictures with the EXIF info on the screen as well? There are programs that do it and then saying to yourself what is wrong with the picture and learning? There's no other way. The sky and greyness would/should warn of potential over exposure, f'instance..

BTW a good viewer program with indefinite up-grade in the price is PIE which means Picture Info Extractor, cheap and usefull fromhttp://www.picmeta.com and there's a version called PIEStudio which allows printing of several pictures on one sheet of paper as an extra. I think there's a trial version, so it would cost you nothing to test it and then buy it if you like it..

Regards, David..

Comment #17

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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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