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Simple Exposure Question

germanduder
Occasional Contributor

Ive scoured the web for an answer too this question, not having any luck. I have an EOS 1200D (Rebel T5).

 

when using an incident light meter, and even with a gray card, in indoor situations and some others i am finding the histogram does not reach 255 (Rightmost side of histogram), sometimes it even ends a full stop or two before 255... I am a little confused, because based on incident readings and gray card readings, the exposure is correct... Even though the histogram does not touch the right end, are my exposures still correct? When importing to lightroom while preserving the picture style (usually camera standard) I still find the histogram does not hit the rightmost side, and end up needing to increase the exposure by a full stop and stretch the whites out to make the photo look well exposed... 

 

Any ideas? I can consistently reproduce this issue. And yes, sometimes the material im photographing does not contain pure white, but underexposure is indicated by not hitting 255 (or within 1/2 stop near it) on histogram, correct?

 

This issue is causing me to have to do heavy post processing to make the photos acceptable, adding significant noise in the photo. 

17 REPLIES 17

Shot with a T5, and saved as RAW.  Rokinon 14mm T3.1

 

3DC3741F-96FA-4F81-9F81-62142CE5E451.jpeg

 

Processed by Adobe LR6, because DPP does not process third party lenses.

The more photos you take, the better you will become.

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"Doctor told me to get out and walk, so I bought a Canon."

Peter
Respected Contributor
ETTR in raw when the dynamic range of the camera is bigger than the dynamic range of the motive. This will bring the shadows out of the noise. Reduce the entire exposure in post.

If the dynamic range of the motive is bigger than the dynamic range of the camera, then you have to sacrifice the shadows or the highlights, or both. Or use a speedlite, HDR etc...

germanduder
Occasional Contributor
egbiggs1, I'm taking about camera calibration, last panel on Adobe light room, options for camera standard, Adobe standard, etc. Yes i am shooting raw. In my case when i am utilizing that gap in the histogram as you say too do, my skies loose a fair amount of color. When trying to bring it back in post i will have less detailed clouds or gradients in sky, and if i use the highlight slider to bring some color/detail back i subsequently remove the highlight detail from things like wet grass reflections, etc. It is most noticeable during sunset hours when shooting away from the sun trying to capture the color gradient where the sky meets land, if exposing per your recommendation, this area becomes more white than colorful, which is not what I'm seeing in reality. When the weather permits, I will take two photos and post them too demonstrate this, one with the gap one without, and hopefully it will demonstrate the difference in highlights rendering i am experiencing


@germanduderwrote:
egbiggs1, I'm taking about camera calibration, last panel on Adobe light room, options for camera standard, Adobe standard, etc. Yes i am shooting raw. In my case when i am utilizing that gap in the histogram as you say too do, my skies loose a fair amount of color. When trying to bring it back in post i will have less detailed clouds or gradients in sky, and if i use the highlight slider to bring some color/detail back i subsequently remove the highlight detail from things like wet grass reflections, etc. It is most noticeable during sunset hours when shooting away from the sun trying to capture the color gradient where the sky meets land, if exposing per your recommendation, this area becomes more white than colorful, which is not what I'm seeing in reality. When the weather permits, I will take two photos and post them too demonstrate this, one with the gap one without, and hopefully it will demonstrate the difference in highlights rendering i am experiencing

You are definitely overthinking this. The histogram is there as a tool to help solve exposure problems, not as a means of creating them.

 

With sunsets, you're bound to see bizarre histograms, because the lighting conditions in a sunset are themselves bizarre.

 

If you like to shoot away from a sunset, read up on "Alpenglühen" and "Gegendämmerung". The best articles I've found are in German; but if you can cope with that, there's some interesting information there.

Bob
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania USA

"...which is not what I'm seeing in reality."

 

As someone already said, Bob I think, what you see and what your camera sees can be and usually is different.  We don't "see" like a camera sensor.

Also when you look at your histogram the lines can be very short.  Make sure you don't delete something that might be hiding there.

 

"...my skies loose a fair amount of color."

 

Yes that can happen.  All cameras have a limit to what they can do.  You may have exceeded the DR of the sensor.

 

"...last panel on Adobe light room, options for camera standard, Adobe standard..."

 

I almost always, 99.5%, leave this set to Adobe Standard.  I don't even know where it is set in my 1DX.  It doesn't matter with Raw mode.

 

"... I will take two photos and post them too demonstrate this, one with the gap one without, ..."

 

Great love to see them.  Pictures say more than words!

EB
EOS 1DX and 1D Mk IV and several lenses!

TCampbell
Esteemed Contributor

The histogram shows the distribution of tonality.  It isn't necessarily an indication of over or under-exposure (but it could be).  If you see data touching the left or right edge of the histogram, then it indicates something in the image was "clipped" (beyond the range of what the sensor could handle).  If the data is jammed to one side, but not the other, then it usually means you had an incorrect exposure (but this makes assumptions about what you intended to expose).

 

When I do concert shots in very very low light, the background is going to drop to black and the histogram will read that as under-exposure.  Except... what I really care about is the performer and if THEY are correctly exposed (we don't care about the blackness of the backgrounds and frankly are happier that they are black).

 

One of the advantages of an incident light meter over a reflected meter is that the incident meter only reads the light "falling" on the sensor.  It doesn't care what you are trying to shoot.  Whereas a reflected meter is all about reading the light reflecting off your metering subject.

 

If you put a piece of white card stock and black card stock side by side and get in close enough to the "white" card so that it fills the frame and note that meter reading... then do the same filling the frame with the black card stock, you'll get a different reading even though both cards are sitting in the same light.  The incident meter will give you the real reading (because it doesn't know it's sitting next to a white or black card and it doesn't need to know.)

 

For certain types of photos, you would expect ot see the hisotgram data favoring one side ... or the other.  It wont necessarily just be in the middle and spread across from left to right.

 

If the histogram data doesn't take advantage of the full width that just means your camera is capable of more dynamic range than the scene required (better to have that ... then the opposite).  You can always stretch the data in post processing ... but if you have the opposite problem you can't do anything to recover data that was clipped.

 

Tim Campbell
5D III, 5D IV, 60Da

BurnUnit
Reputable Contributor

@TCampbellwrote:

One of the advantages of an incident light meter over a reflected meter is that the incident meter only reads the light "falling" on the sensor.  It doesn't care what you are trying to shoot.  Whereas a reflected meter is all about reading the light reflecting off your metering subject.

 


This does a nice job of clearing up some of the basic mysteries of reading a histogram and light metering. But I wonder if it might be worth making a small change to your description of the differences between reflective and incident metering.

Would it be more correct to say "that the incident meter only reads the light falling on the meter"? The way it's written in your reply might lead somebody to believe that you're referring to the camera's image sensor.

 

Too pedantic? Robot Embarassed

TCampbell
Esteemed Contributor

@BurnUnitwrote:

@TCampbellwrote:

One of the advantages of an incident light meter over a reflected meter is that the incident meter only reads the light "falling" on the sensor.  It doesn't care what you are trying to shoot.  Whereas a reflected meter is all about reading the light reflecting off your metering subject.

 


This does a nice job of clearing up some of the basic mysteries of reading a histogram and light metering. But I wonder if it might be worth making a small change to your description of the differences between reflective and incident metering.

Would it be more correct to say "that the incident meter only reads the light falling on the meter"? The way it's written in your reply might lead somebody to believe that you're referring to the camera's image sensor.

 

Too pedantic? Robot Embarassed


That's certainly a fair statement.  My term about the incident meter measuring the light falling on the sensor (of the incident meter... not the camera sensor).  To rephrase that it's measureing the light landing on the incident meter would prevent confusion.

 

There are some nuances as well.  (Some light meters have amazing capabilities ... they can read multiple data-points and provide the best exposure as a mean of all the sampled data-points; they can tell you when a scene will exceed your camera's dynamic range; they can meter flash; they can calculate "flash contribution" as a percentage of light relative to the ambient light; many also have integrated reflected meters as well as incident meters; etc.)

 

Reflected metering (some hand-held light meters that can be used for incident metering, also include a reflected sensor.  If I'm shooting a landscape and want to know what the meter reading is on some snow-capped mountains in the background, it would be impractical to have to hike all the way up the mount to take a reading and then hike all the way back to my camera) refers to any light that first has to reflect off a subject before being picked up by the metering sensor.  

 

When you use a Canon camera with "evaluative" metering mode (the default), the camera is sampling lots of points across the frame and trying to find the exposure that would best capture as many points as possible without over or under-exposure ... but it's willing to split the difference.  

 

This is why, when shooting a tricky scene where there's a large part that is likely to clip (but isn't important), the camera wont know that.  It can end up adjusting the exposure to try to re-claim some of the parts that are going to clip... and that can end up having an undersireable effect on the part of the scene you DID care about. 

 

This is why the camera also has center or spot metering mode as well as "center-weighted" metering mode, etc.  in combination with the AE-Lock feature.  This allows you to meter the thing you care about, lock it, then re-compose and take the shot knowing that the camera will use the best exposure for your metered subject and ignore everything else.

 

 

Tim Campbell
5D III, 5D IV, 60Da