Contrast and Exposure
High contrast subject / landscape
Metering from up close gives good results when contrast is high and the most important part of the scene is much darker or much lighter than its surroundings. With a meter built into a camera, move in until the main subject fills the viewfinder (be careful not to block the light on the Subject) make the reading, set the shutter speed and aperture, then move back to the original position to take the picture. With an automatic camera set the camera for manual operation or override the automatic exposure With a hand held, reflected light meter, move in close enough to meter mostly the main subject, but not so close that you block the light. A spot Meter which reads a very narrow angle, can be used to meter a small part of a scene from farther away Strong directional warm light is falling over the women as they walk across this park in Madrid. The camera's inbuilt meter has picked up the reading from these women, the subject in this case and rendered them with the right exposure while underexposing the rest of the area.
Its a good idea to include more of the environment as well compared to just shooting up close. With a close shot of the couple kissing, they could be anywhere but by including a part of the inside of the shop, its clear that this is somewhere in Madrid, spain. sometimes, you also need to use your limitation to your advantage. Maybe by the time the lens on the camera was changed to a longer lens, things may have changed. The cameras today are very good at handling difficult situations. While the exposure outside is right, inside is just bright enough not to take away the attention while showing enough detail.
As the sky is quite bright, the camera meter has rendered the lower shadow part quite dark but then thats what makes the photograph interesting with a brighter sky, detail on the buildings and a dark shadow without much detail. few clouds in the sky add to this simple photograph.
canon eos 5 d, 105mm, 1/200 at F11 aperture priority, iso 200, Multipattern- Evaluative metering
This photograph in Leh in quite similar in approach to the photograph in Spain above. Both have the sky included with the wall on the right with the bright sunlight falling over it. The Evaluative metering of Canon has handled the situation very well besides the wall being white. Its taken the reading from multiple areas as the name suggested and the evaluated to give the most appropriate exposure resulting in a deep blue sky with good details on the white except for the wall which anyways did not have much.
canon 400D 32mm 1/1000 at f/7.1 iso 200 multi pattern metering
The two photographs bellow have been shot in quick succession but still the exposure in both the photographs is slightly different from each other. Could be due to a slight difference in what all is included in the frame or the way the cameras metering interpreted the reading. the camera does not know that there will be another shot taken of the same frame. Just before the image is formed, the camera evaluates and exposes the image accordingly. Theoretically speaking, if the frame is not shifted at all every successive shot should have the same exposure / reading. However, practically it may not always be so and there may be minor differences.
Since a lot of light is reflected from the sky and the bright white wall behind, the subject is rendered almost a silhoette. Also its bacuse of the fact that there is not light being reflected back on the lady. canon eos 5d , 70mm, 1/200 at f8, ISO50, Evaluative metering
This image is slightly deeper than the image above. canon eos 5d , 70mm, 1/160 at f8, ISO50, Evaluative metering.
Shooting against the light makes interesting photographs. Though the sun is included in the frame the main subject, the cyclist is not absolutely against the light. Also notice that the sky is much much deeper towards the east than towards the west. Wide angles help emphasise on the main subject. The flare is also due to the wide angle lens being used against the light. Though I could add my hand along the lens hood to prevent the flare but it was desirable in this case.
Move in close to meter a subject against a much lighter background
When an overall exposure reading was made of this scene, a large expanse of light sky was included in the area metered, so the reading Indicated a relatively high level of light. But the figure of the man was much darker than the sky; he did not receive enough exposure and came out dark.
To meter for a subject against a much lighter background, come close enough so that the meter reads mostly the subject, but not so close that you cast a shadow on the area you are metering.
Having set the correct exposure, return to the original position to make the photograph. the face was more accurately rendered by this method. a camera that automatically sets f-stops or aperture must sometimes be manually overridden, as it was here, if a correct exposure is to be made.
Tilt the meter down to exclude a bright sky when you meter a landscape
In a landscape or cityscape, so much light can be metered from the sky that the reading produces too little exposure for the land elements in the scene. Here the sky is properly exposed but the buildings are too dark and lack detail. For a proper exposure of the buildings, light reflected from them
should be dominant when the reading is made. This is done by pointing the camera or a separate meter, slightly down so that the meter’s cells “see” less of the sky and more of the buildings. Having set the correct exposure by measuring the light reflected from the buildings, tilt the camera up once again, returning to the original composition. This time the buildings are lighter and reveal more detail. The sky is lighter also, and there is no significant detail in the sky at this setting. Light areas such as the sky can easily be darkened during printing
Munish Khanna is a well experienced creative photographer based in Delhi, India
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