Desired versus Correct Exposure
Something I hammer in my field workshops is the difference between a “correct” exposure and “desired” exposure. Most new dSLR users assume the exposure is correct when the ELI (exposure level indicator) shows the tick mark at zero (see below.)
To the left is the ELI on the Quick Screen of a Canon 60D. Every dSLR has a similar ELI on the top LCD, bottom of the viewfinder or, often, the back LCD. Sometimes, it’s in all four locations. As you might imagine, this is a key tool in setting desired exposure. A tick mark below the scale (unseen in this image) is used to indicate more or less light.
dSLR users often mistake the zero point as the “correct” exposure level when it’s really just the point where the exposure algorithm reports the light and dark areas are balanced. That would be like saying the center of the speedometer is the “correct” speed. Try telling that to the cop who pulls you over for doing 60mph in a 25mph zone.
Think of the Auto Exposure Meter as a starting point. Here are three images from Julian, CA, an old gold mining town now reknowned for its apple pies. I was in Aperture Mode because that’s my usual exposure mode. I knew I wanted the dark center of the sunflower exposed for details but I also wanted to preserve some cloud details in the background.
For my first test shot, I added +1 EC (exposure compensation.) The result was a bit too bright and I didn’t have much detail in the clouds. I dialed back EC to +1/3 to keep details in the dark center of the sunflower and recover some details in the clouds. Because I was shooting Raw, I knew could recover cloud details in Lightroom if necessary. In the end, I decided the clouds weren’t as important as the bee. If I had blindly accepted the metered exposure, the bee might have been lost in the dark center.
Point Loma Lighthouse Open House
Rick Phillips sent me a link to an article he wrote for Examiner.com. In a nutshell, on Thursday, August 25, 2011, Cabrillo National Monument on Point Loma, San Diego, will open the Point Loma Lighthouse for its annual Founder’s Day celebration. This is indeed a rare opportunity to make photos from the top of the lighthouse. Read Rick’s articles for details.
I’ll post a Meetup on the Photography Webinars and Photoshoots site for those who would like to join me there.
Canon 40D for Sale
My Canon 40D body is up for sale. This is just the body, no lens. I have the box, manual, CDs and all accessories that originally came with it. I’ll post photos later this week in the Tips & News section under Excess Equipment for Sale.
The asking price is $675 and includes a Canon BG-E2 Battery Grip for extended battery life. This combination is perfect for fast sports photography where you are quickly changing between landscape and portrait modes. Because of the weight, shipping is $25. My preferred method of payment is PayPal.
I Feel Good!
I “met” Jim on a forum about six months ago when he posted a question about a Canon 5D Mk II, hoping that would help him make better bird photos. In my reply, I laid out the reasons why, in that price range, a Canon 7D was a better choice. He took my advice and bought a 7D as well as a Canon 300/2.8, a US$4000 lens. At that point, I knew he was either very serious about his bird photography or a recent lottery winner.
Recently, Jim sent me some of his latest bird photos and I was amazed. This photo above was one of my favorites. The detail in the feathers is excellent and capturing the osprey’s eye was outstanding. This photo was made after I pointed out that he needed to add +EC because most birds are much darker than the background sky. Doing so moved his histogram to the right and greatly reduced the noise he was seeing in the shadows.
The thing I admire about Jim is that he takes advice and figures out the details for himself. He’s not a “high maintenance” student. Below are three more from the same series. It’s students like Jim who make me smile and enjoy what I do. You can see more of Jim’s work at his Flickr site.
(Almost) FREE dSLR Exposure Webinar
On Wednesday, April 6 from Noon until 1PM, I’ll conduct a $2.00 webinar for new dSLR users. This is the first (Almost) FREE webinar for members of the Photography Webinars and Photoshoot Meetup Group. The group was established to meet the needs of busy people who don’t have time to attend in-person Meetups but still want to learn about dSLR photography.
The registration page is HERE. The reason we charge $2 is to reduce no-shows. We think $2 will cause people to think whether they really want to attend.
Adobe Acrobat Reader Update Scam, Again
First, just the facts: Adobe NEVER sends e-mails asking people to update Adobe Acrobat Reader.
There are hundreds of millions of PCs and Macs loaded with Adobe Acrobat Reader. It would be totally impractical for Adobe to send an e-mail to every user. How would they even know who has Reader since it’s often preloaded on new computers or loaded when new software is installed.
Notice the Adobe logo is missing on the e-mail (right.) Adobe has spent hundreds of millions of dollars to establish their brand, why would they ever send out any communication without the logo?
I don’t know if this is simply a phishing scam (where you’re the phish) or a virus injection attack. Either way, I don’t care and I never click on such links. Don’t be a dork, don’t fall for this stuff! Even if this were legitimate, what’s the downside to waiting a few days before updating Adobe Acrobat Reader? In the case of a free software like Reader, just go to Adobe’s site and download from the source. Don’t trust any middlemen.
Back to Our Regularly Schedule Program
In looking over the registrants for Gloria Hopkins’ Composition Webinar, I noticed that, so far, they’re all women. Once again, women are the ones who have no problems asking for directions or assistance while men press on muttering, “Just because I don’t know where I am doesn’t mean I’m lost.”
Come on, guys! Composition is the weakest part of almost every photo I see. Just because your “friends” never say anything bad about your photos doesn’t mean your photos are well composed. Just because you learned how to slather on some weird effects using the plug-in du jour doesn’t mean your photos are well composed. In fact, just the fact that your photos need so much help says they’re poorly composed to start. If you already know all this and are ready to register, click this LINK.
You might remember the photo to the left. One of my students, Butch, has tried for months to make a photo that really worked and he got it in this image. It’s not perfect but much, much better than previous efforts. As he looked through the photos from this scene, he noticed that he had captured a 3-shot burst. In the shot immediately after this shot, a tourist walked into the frame. In the frame immediately before this shot, the Sax Man’s intensity was missing. The point is that composition happens both in-camera and in post-processig. We can’t all shoot like Ansel Adams but we can certainly learn how to make simple fixes in post to maximize the impact of our photos.
Why Manual Flash is Sometimes Easier
This past weekend, I photographed Celestina, Pinup Model, Makeup Artist (MUA) and Hair Stylist. This was the third time I’ve photographed her and I should have the lighting down pat by now. Yet, I still managed to make rookie errors that ruined many images and will require a reshoot. BTW, notice the cool NBA blouse. That’s Natonal Bowling Association, not basketball.
First, the excuses. We only had two hours so I was rushed. Celestina was delayed getting there so now we only had 90 minutes. I tried two poses which required moving the backdrop and wasted more time. And, the biggie: I took a shortcut and let E-TTL handle the intricacies of a four-flash set-up. This isn’t to say E-TTL couldn’t have handled it but it takes a lot more smarts on my. I would have been better off manually setting each flash instead of letting E-TTL try to figure out what I wanted.
Here’s a finished photo of Celestina striking a pinup pose. I wanted a white background in the tradition of true pinups. The BG isn’t pure white as I wanted but it’s better than the original (after the jump.) My first thought was to mask Celestina and drop in a white BG. I immediately realized that was a dumb idea because of the fine hairs where I was backlighting her beautiful red hair. More
International Gourd Festival
Say what? A gourd festival? Yep, you read that right. I attended the 14th Annual International Gourd Festival this weekend. You’re all probably green with envy.
Held in De Luz, CA, a tiny wide spot on the road between Fallbrook and Temecula, CA, the gourd festival is on the grounds of Welburn Farms, the largest US gourd producer. I first heard of this event 10 years ago and always thought I should check it out. This year, I finally got a “round tuit”.
Click for more