Here's the secret to getting a perfectly exposed outdoor shot every time - (as long as your subject area is within the 5-stop dynamic range of the camera's metering system.)
|Image one exposed for highlights (sky).
1. Know how your camera handles exposure- (I know that mine overexposes between 1/3 and 2/3 of a stop-depending on lighting conditions.)
2. Calibrate your camera's meter:
a) Set camera mode to “P”/P-shift“, or “A/AV” Use Matrix/evaluative metering-(Scene should contain all tones within dynamic range)
b) Hold +/- button, (On Nikon's, Near shutter button: Canon's is to the right of LCD screen) and turn command dial to + 1.0 - take a shot.
- Turn command dial to + 0.7 - take a shot
- Turn command dial to + 0.3 - take a shot
- Turn command dial to - 0.0 - take a shot
- Turn command dial to - 0.3 - take a shot
- Turn command dial to - 0.7 - take a shot
- Turn command dial to - 1.0 - take a shot
3. You will have 7 shots from + 1.0 to - 1.0 study these for one with detail in shadow and highlight areas, without blown highlights (Switch on the “blinkies” to show blown highlights.)
4. Set the exposure compensation (+/-) to this best shot reading, and keep it there for all outdoor shots.
5. Set metering to "spot metering" mode.
6. Set auto bracketing to 2/3 EV (With camera calibrated as above you should not be more than 1/3 EV(0.3) out at any one time.)
7. Use A/Av mode to select depth of field.
8. Set white balance to appropriate Kelvins as below:
| Exposed for the shadows (foreground).
Where, with film you either shot print film in daylight or with flash indoors, and with slide film, you used daylight or tungsten film, or used compensating filters with these. White balance is Digital’s version-you select a white balance based on the condition of the light you are using, so the camera’s meter allows for white to photograph as white.
Auto white balance does a reasonable job most of the time, but it cannot cope in some situations-especially when subject is in deep shadow. You need to know when to use the white balance settings for all situations, and this table will help you understand: (Degrees Kelvin is a means of determining colour temperature.)
||White Balance Setting
|Sunrise/sunset 2400-3000 Kelvin
||Use Auto White Balance
|Tungsten lighting 3200-3500 Kelvin
||Use Tungsten/Incandescent White Balance
|Fluorescent lighting 4000 Kelvin
||Use Fluorescent White Balance
|Early morning/afternoon sun 4000 Kelvin
||Use Auto White Balance/ --Fluorescent White Balance
|Noon sun/Sun overhead 5000-6500 Kelvin
||Use Cloudy White Balance
|Flash photography in daylight 5500 Kelvin
||Use Flash White Balance
|Deep shade 6500 Kelvin
||Use cloudy/shade White Balance
|Shade in daylight 7500 Kelvin
||Use shade White Balance
|Heavy overcast, very dark shade 8000 to 10000 Kelvin
||Use shade White Balance plus 81a-85c glass filter
To set custom White balance (I did this on a Nikon):
- Select a neutral coloured object to set your White Balance.
- It’s best to avoid using a white target. (The camera prefers grey.)
- If you use white in direct sunlight you'll always get a "No Gd" response from the camera because the Matrix meter is rendering it white instead of grey. Thus the trick is to select the centre-weighted meter when using a white reference in bright light and you'll get "Good" from a camera. Remember to set back to Matrix metering as soon as you're done.
Ok, so you are going to have problems if some images you want to make, are outside the dynamic range of the camera: So here's the plan for that:
With the camera on a tripod: meter for highlight, take a shot-then meter for shadows and take another shot.
1. Add lighter image to darker as a new layer, (click on Move tool, hold down "shift" button, and drag lighter image over to darker, then release.)
2. Select> Color Range-Click highlights.
3. Check “invert”, click “OK”.
4. Add layer mask. Click on layer mask.
5.Filter> Blur> Gaussian Blur 250 pixels. Click "OK".
Flatten and save. You will get detail in highlights and shadows.
|Both images blended together in Photoshop.
Now you know how to get perfect exposure.