Saturday Evening Post #181 : Exposure

We all did it.
Every budding beginner photographer gets excited about a subject, then, struggles with the technicalites of making the image.

In dayhs of yore, we’d take the camera out of the box, and pour over the instruction book, looking for that gem that would help make a correct exposure. These days the first thing to do is Google for a vid by an outspoken ‘expert’ opinion (OEO) on the right way to set the camera up, how to rotate all the dials and what settings are best. And don’t we all want to use Manual Exposure and have beautiful bokeh.
The thing I find with the outspokenexpert is that rarely do we get to see any of their work, not the stuff they shoot for some test or other, but real work—but that is an aside.

Then we ponder what is the best way to determine the exposure. Spot? Centre-weight? Overall? Matrix? Does it make a difference? Now it’s my outspoken-expert-opinion (OEO) that the camera manufacturer wants you to be able to get good exposures. Not too dark, not too light, the Goldilocks effect. After all it’s to their advantage for you to tell everybody, “Oh my LTZ7132ii is getting great exposures every time”, in the hope others too will rush out to buy the LTZ7133iii update.

Then, we wrestle with light. At first we just thought, oh, well, there is light. Enough, or not enough. But tricky stuff that it is, and so essential to our craft, it comes from in front, above, behind, to the left or right, below or even subdued and filtered through, and sometimes it hides behind grey porridge clouds. Tai Chi it is said has 13 movements. Lighting near matches that.

Then there is the lens and all that silly aperture stuff: f/2.8, 4, 5.6 Why not 1, 2 3, or small medium and large?

So what is the right exposure? And so we resort to more vids and OEO, all the time wondering why our photos, are not…just so.

Like all training: football, tennis, piano or Tai Chi, the magic slowly begins to show through.
Exposure: Not correct, not under or over.


From the Heart.

7 thoughts on “Saturday Evening Post #181 : Exposure

  1. Very well written, David! We have all done lots of reading although in my case I don’t sit through videos!
    Eventually I got to the point of trying things in the field in the hope of finding my ‘sweet spot’. Not sure I am quite there yet and maybe I never will ‘be there’, but I still love trying!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. G’day David, tis truth that as someone said of Tai Chi, you put in a day’s practice, you get back a day’s result. Put in a lifetime and recieve all the benefits. No one ever learned to play the piano from a book or a vid. After 20 years of practice, my daughter’s friend is often asked, Oh, I wish I played the piano as well as you do. His response. No. You don’t. If you did, you’d have already put in the 20 years practice.
      Joe McNally isn’t a super photographer because he started yesterday with an expensive camera. It is his life’s work.
      Yet, Joe is the first to say, he plays about and keeps trying new things. Just for the love of it.


  2. A beautiful portrait. Yes, I have done all those things, but have learned that looking at others’ images (and sometimes asking for advice, particularly when I was starting out) taught me a lot. Getting out there and doing it and then doing it again to try to improve is the best way of course.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. A beautiful and interesting capture David, with light and pose. As I shoot almost all pf my pics on the fly, to catch the moment and behaviour, I often have imperfect shots, having not set my camera up as well as you would. I am thankful for the good shots when I get them, and do depend much on manual settings, as many of my shots are in leafy branches and shrubbery. I like your illustration of how one approaches the craft, and how we expect the camera to do the work for us, I guess I do this to a certain extent, and after my road trip have finally learned better how to tame the Mirrorless system. True, as my daughter would agree as a pro like yourself, ‘it is all about the light and were it comes from’ and digital sensors are far more sensitive to light, especially during their development, than emulsion, which sometimes causes me some angst with the Mirrorless. Thanks again for your interesting and learned experience in sharing the philosophical and practical aspects to photography.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hello Ashley
      It is interesting to me how people setup their camera and what they expect from it.
      I think it’s hard to gain an iSight of my camera settings and techniques from the few shots that appear on the blog. Firstly intend only to show the successful ones. A days shoot mike make 2-300 images, yet once on the computer that will quickly be triaged down to say 50 or so. Then they are loaded in Lr and a pretty brutal process Flags (or favs) maybe 10 on a good day. Or if I’ve committed to doing a Field Notes Blog I’ll take another 12 or so to an album. The rest will languish on the drive until sometime in the future on a rainy day (like today) I’ll revisit the month and take out all the repeats double ups and unwanteds and remove them too.

      Do I shoot rubbish-all the time.

      I like cameras that have User Settings on a dial Nikon offers U1 and U2. I know Canon does but can’t recall the names on the dial. C1 C2?
      I set one for Birds on Stick. It uses single point focus, 0 EV and lens stopped down a little for dof. I don’t use auto Iso And it’s either Manual or Aperture.
      Second one is in flight. Must focus points Use most of the points available (153 of D 500) Ev is plus + I EV or 1.5. Close to wide open Aperture I don’t use auto Iso use Aperture or Manual. If I had a Canon I’d set af to the eye recognition

      So if I find a perched bird it’s a quick setting to U1. Make exposure adjustments as I go I don’t “chimp” just check histogram and “blinkies”.
      If the bird throws or one is in the air I change to U2 and away we go.

      However I must add that the current cameras we’re using Nikon D 500 does not have User settings so we generally use a generic between the settings just described.

      And of course it all depends what the user is aiming for I’d shots are a hit and miss at best. We work regularly with a small n7mber of birds so have a distinct advantage of knowing a lot about individual behaviour
      All depend I guess on the need for the end result and the phun of photography:-)

      Keep taking pictures we do

      Liked by 1 person

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