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Question about Bryan Peterson and Understand Exposure
I just read his book and was wondering about locking exposure so that white snow doesn't turn up gray. In the book there's an example of a scene with lots of white snow, lots of clear blue sky and in the middle a red building. He writes that if you take the metering from the red house the snow will be gray. Instead, you should take the metering from the blue sky, lock the exposure there, and then recompose. Question: is this technique valid with modern cameras with multipoint metering etc?..

Comments (5)

I think it's a 'it depends'..

It depends on the camera manufacturer's skill in implementing enough metering spots and an intelligently done algorithm for picking the right exposure..

Nothing has changed in the new world, the red barn is still a small % of the scene surrounded by lots of snow, most averaging/CW metering will underexpose them. The big win is that you can see the results instantly on the LCD so you should experiment a bit. Try matrix and spot mode (if your camera has spot mode)...

Comment #1

I just read his book and was wondering about locking exposure so thatwhite snow doesn't turn up gray. In the book there's an example of ascene with lots of white snow, lots of clear blue sky and in themiddle a red building. He writes that if you take the metering fromthe red house the snow will be gray. Instead, you should take themetering from the blue sky, lock the exposure there, and thenrecompose. Question: is this technique valid with modern cameras withmultipoint metering etc?.

Yes, you would have to use spot metering probably, which just uses a small area in the middle of the frame. It is useful in situations where the light is not even and some parts of the scene are much brighter / darker than others..

Simple example: taking a photo of someone with bright sky in the background. An average meter reading will tell you that the scene is very bright (because of the sky) and will hence set a short exposure. the person's face, which is much less bright, will be underexposed. The simple solution, if your camera has spot metering, is to take a meter reading just from the subject's face. if your camera doesn't do spot metering, just point it down and take a meter reading off the ground and use that, either setting it manually or using exposure lock. Snow poses a similar problem, solved in the same way..

Modern 'matrix metering' methods will attempt to solve this issue for you, by looking at the scene. A dark area in the middle surrounded by a bright area... probably the dark area is the real subject, and the camera can make an intelligent guess about exposure accordingly. Some cameras are good at this. Personally I would rather trust my own judgement and take a spot reading from the face..

Best wishes.

Mike..

Comment #2

Well, more or less. It's a photographic technique and doesn't really matter what camera you are using..

Incidentally, with snow it's easy to get into a "can't win" situation. best to bracket the shots as well: simply because no two people have the same idea as to what a sno scene should look like..

Regards, David..

Comment #3

I'd say taking a reading from the red house would probably make the snow too white; taking the reading from the snow would make it grey, and taking the reading from the sky, or your hand, would be best of all..

BAK..

Comment #4

Linslus wrote:.

I just read his book and was wondering about locking exposure so thatwhite snow doesn't turn up gray. In the book there's an example of ascene with lots of white snow, lots of clear blue sky and in themiddle a red building. He writes that if you take the metering fromthe red house the snow will be gray. Instead, you should take themetering from the blue sky, lock the exposure there, and thenrecompose. Question: is this technique valid with modern cameras withmultipoint metering etc?.

I too have Peterson's book and have found sections of it rather confusing (IMO, he's not the world's best communicator and should have hired a good editor before going into print).

However, the way I see this is: clear blue Southern sky (at mid-day) -in the Northern Hemisphere- should spot-meter as mid-gray, so an exposure based on such a reading should be "perfect" as can be..

On the other hand, I can't see his objection regarding the red barn, as this too should spot-meter as a mid-gray reading and it should, therefore, also give a good exposure..

Go figure!.

(On the "third" hand, you could just use a centre-weighted reading, add +2ev EC and "blaze away".)..

Comment #5

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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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