Test, of sorts

June 26, 2010

These photos were taken earlier today, around Brunswick. Hangover, breakfast, op-shop. I’m uploading from my new little netbook, which will be my travel partner for the next 6 months. I’m leaving Melbourne for a while on monday eve, so expect this to turn into a kind of travel blog. I’ll be carrying my trusty Canon everywhere, so expect an inundation of self-indulgeant this-is-the-life posts full of images of romantic European cities and azure Mediterranian beaches. I apologise in advance…


A rainy sunday turns into a lovely day at the seaside.


June 20, 2010

These are some photos taken the other day around King St and the Queen Victoria Market. I’m trying out a different way of taking photos, using my camera’s spot metering. While my camera’s evaluative (read: automatic) metering is usually pretty good, there’s no way of really knowing what it’s going to spit out. In general, I would take the photo, check out the picture on the camera’s screen and the histogram, and change whatever was needed (read: trial and error).

Spot metering only reads the luminosity of a very small portion in the centre of what you see in the viewfinder. It then adjusts the exposure parameters (aperture, shutter speed, ISO – depending on your settings) in order to give this little area the luminosity of middle grey. The rest of the photo then follows suit. Of course, very few things actually fit the camera’s ideal so you have to think about what it is that you’re pointing at. If you’re pointing to something dark, the camera’s going to make this thing brighter; if you point at something bright, the camera’s going to make it darker (a tad counter-intuitive, at first). So there are a few ways of going about this:

1. Point to something in the picture that’s 18% grey, then lock the exposure and recompose. Concrete is often pretty close. So is grass, funnily enough.

2. Carry around an 18% grey card, put it down, take a reading from it, lock exposure, pick it up, run back, take photo.

3. Point at something else, lock exposure, and use the appropriate amount of exposure compensation to correctly expose your photo. This is generally the most convenient option.

I’m normally in Aperture Priority, and so all I really have to do after choosing an aperture is to lock the exposure on something and adjust the exposure compensation slider depending on how much light is coming off what I pointed at. I then look at the screen, realise everything is white, and try again.

WHYWHYWHYWHYWHY. It allows you to choose exactly how the photo is to be exposed. It means that your camera can’t be fooled by extreme bright or dark things that would normally cause your subject to be BLAR. (This post is obscenely long, I’m getting delirious). SO YEAH.

BUT THIS SEEMS TOO HARD. It’s not really. Plus, all pre-70s analogue cameras couldn’t do anything else. AND EVERYONE BACK THEN ALL GOT ALONG FINE DIDN’T THEY. So yeah.

EDIT: Not all cameras have a spot meter. Partial metering and center-weighted average also work fine, but they take into account a much larger central area.

EDIT 2: My friend Mike suggested a few more things that are pretty close to 18% grey. Foliage, light or olive skin and your own hand if nothing else is around. Thanks Mike!

THERE ARE OTHERS THAT HAVE MUCH MORE TO SAY ABOUT THIS THAN I DO! (And with less capslock) One of the 20th century’s pioneering photographers, Ansell Adams, developed the Zone System from which this is based. Read up on it, it’s really helpful. Here’s a WIKIPEDIA LINK

For this shot, I took a reading from the ground

Here, I took a reading from the bright part of the footpath and overexposed slightly

This cake was delicious

Without using a more restricted metering pattern, the camera would be fooled by that bright spot, and make everything a bit darker. I have no proof, I am sorry.

This wall is dark, so the photo was underexposed by 1 stop, to stop the camera making it brighter than it should be.

Concrete walls are generally pretty easy to meter off. For scenes like this where there isn’t a huge luminance range, just pick what you think is something close to the middle of the range. I think I went for the top-left corner

This is what happens when you don’t lock your exposure. The meter was pointing straight at the black tiled bit.

Much better.

Hell yeah, grey walls.

You would have to compensate differently for each of these… things.

Hot Mamma

Evaluative metering would see the bright reflections on the cans and make the whole scene crazily darker. FOILED! (or tinned, in this case)

Mmmmmm inflated patriotism.

These lacey things actually have more black coming through them from behind than their own whiteness. DO NOT BE FOOLED.

Best dinner ever.