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exposure tips please

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Old Monday 12th July 2010, 20:44   #1
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exposure tips please

I recently took the below shot using my 7d and 100-400 at 400mm handheld. When doing bird photography, 90% of the time I use AV mode with the lens wide open to give the maximum shutter speed possible. To meter the below shot, I used evaluative metering and the swallows came out really dark. I've managed to rescue it a bit in Photoshop, but have lost detail and colour on the birds becuase of this.
With hindsight I probably should have used spot metering and AE lock. Would this have been the best way to expose this sort of shot or are there better ways?

Cheers, Damian.
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Old Monday 12th July 2010, 20:58   #2
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I'm not a camera expert Damian but a dark subject against a light background is always going to be difficult. I think I'm right in saying that the meter will read the larger lighter background and will make the image darker because of the dominant lightness. So dialling in positive exposure compensation would lighten the dark subject. Spot metering off the bird would do the same thing I guess.

A more technical explanation will follow I'm sure.
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Old Wednesday 14th July 2010, 22:33   #3
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i think you are right about the spot metering and AE lock. but IMHO i think you shot is marvelous.

and maybe you can get better details at f 8.0 or 9.0 but then you will lose the proper shutter speed, if you can handle noise well then you can compensate with higher ISO value.
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Old Friday 16th July 2010, 07:56   #4
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The light is coming in from the left and due to wing position/angle and relative position of the birds you appear to be photographing into the shadows of your subjects. The rest of the scene has some sunlight on it and the exposure there is not too bad. The problem you face is that your subjects are unlit but the scene is lit reasonably well. You could perhaps brighten things a little, but the real challenge is the light, not the exposure. I think this scene is a perfect candidate for some fill flash.
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Old Friday 16th July 2010, 18:30   #5
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Looking at the photo's histogrma shows a good exposure .
But I understand you did some pps and lightened it up .
So I assume the original was quite dark .
I am a great spot metering enthusiast - and when metering, my main goal in getting the histogram as far Right as possible . In your case - I would meter from the bird , aiming at about -1/3 ( dark bird ) , not worrying about the sky . If you need high shutter speed - crank up the Iso , or open aperture , but keep the exposure correct .
If you use evalutive metering when shooting a dark bird against the sky - you'll always end up with a too dark bird . That is why I almost always use spot metering - I want my SUBJECT to be exposed correctly . It true for dark birds on bright skies , and white birds on dark BG.
When shooting a bird in a bush , or some other multicolor environment - then I use evaluative metering .
here's an example:
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Old Friday 16th July 2010, 22:37   #6
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Spot metering would help a bit in this type of situation. However, in cases like this, something is almost always going to be exposed "incorrectly." I would err to the side of exposing the subject birds correctly and not worrying about if the sky gets blown out a bit. I don't know how far away you were from the birds at the time but have you tried a fill flash or reflector of some kind?
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Old Saturday 17th July 2010, 08:46   #7
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Oops. In my earlier reply I overlooked the fact that the photo had already been edited. I've written a few times about my ideas on setting exposure, so rather than repeat myself I'll link to this thread....

Hopefully there will be something of use buried in there.
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