Tag Archives: Photography

Photographing your best friend’s wedding — 10 Reasons to say NO!

I saw a tweet fly about twitter that read:

Photographing Your Best Friend’s Wedding – 10 Tips #photography #photo

There was no URL with it to go read the 10 tips, but with the help of our friend Google I was lead pretty quickly to this site, which seems to be the origin of the tweet:

http://psd101.blogspot.com/2011/02/photographing-your-best-friends-wedding.html

a website called Photography 101.

In full disclosure, I make a majority of my photo income photographing weddings.

The article’s advice is aimed apparently at amateurs who have been lured in by their BFF to do a for free, er. Pro Bono job because they have a nice camera. My advice: Just say “No!”

Just say No!

And here are the 10 reasons why!

1. Photographically speaking a couple’s wedding should be the most important day to them. It is not a time to be breaking a new photographer in to do the job. Couples will look back on these photos for years and not having a professional do the job is just a mistake. Quality wedding photographers don’t have to cost $4,000 depending on what is being delivered. Depending on the local market, its possible to find talented photographers who will do the job for under $1,000.

Its very very important for you and your BFF asking you to do this to realize the average wedding photography isn’t just the 8 hours on site for the wedding and reception, but considerably more. If albums are involved, a pro photographer can easily spend 50 hours of work to make that 8 hour wedding a possibility.

2. You need backup gear. Murphy’s Law is a frequent guests of weddings and having just one camera body, one lens and one flash is an invitation for Murphy to apply his law. Even pro’s loose gear at weddings but we are smart enough to have backup’s packed away so we can keep shooting.

3. Weddings are stressful, even for an experienced photographer. They are hectic and high paced. As a guest or even as the couple themselves, you don’t realize all the different photos that have to be taken. It takes planning and choreography and coordination to pull it all off. You have to spend time with the planner, the DJ, and the couple while they are stressed to the max. Which leads to #4.

4. You won’t enjoy the day. This is your BFF. If you’re behind the camera, you’re not enjoying the wedding. Your friend may not realize what they are asking of you. There is no time to socialize. No time to hang with your family and friends.

5. You cannot (should not) drink if you’re working. So no partying for you. No cocktail hour either because your busy trying to make sure Auntie Em and Uncle Joe get in the right photo.

6. No champagne for you to toast with. You have to get that photo!

7. No cake for you. You will be busy shooting the dance floor.

8. This one may be a positive! It’s an excuse to skip the Electric Slide… but you still have to take photos of it.

9. Its time for the garter/bouquet toss. Wait a minute, you’re still single and you want to catch it. Guess what! It’s not your time to catch the flowers, you have to take photos of it.

10. Now you have to deliver all of your goods and well a lot of the photos are blurry (did someone miss reason #4 above?) and the exposures and color balance is all over the place and you give them to your friend and they are disappointed with them and it costs you your friendship. Is it really worth the risk of loosing your BFF because your quality just wasn’t there? You’re friendship is way too important.

Want to be a true BFF? Take your wedding gift money and contribute it to the fee to hire a professional photographer. Wedding vendors are becoming more popular additions to the Bridal registry and a young couple will appreciate better photos in the long run than a toaster.

They will appreciate having you party with them and be there to help them get through their stressful day. If you are interested in the photography aspect, why not volunteer to be the liaison between the photographer and the family. Photographers appreciate having someone who knows the family and can help out. Just don’t neglect the fact that you are there to be with the bride and groom, not work the wedding as a vendor.

Just say no!

Birds of Prey from the American Wildlife Refuge.

Its a Bird! Its a Plane! No. Its a Bird! Actually six birds.

Enigma_cropped

The American Wildlife Refuge, a non-profit wild bird-of-prey rescue organization in Raleigh, North Carolina had a variety of their Educational Birds on display at Wild Birds Unlimited in Cary on Saturday, December 5th. Volunteer handlers answered questions for several hours as they displayed the raptors to their audience.

Teaching_About_Birds

The organization rehabs wild birds that are injured and returns them to the wild. Some birds, perhaps due to injury or too much human contact cannot be put back into the wild and those birds join the Educational Birds. They function on donations. You can donate simply by tying your Food Lion MVP card to them.

While I would love to have gotten these photos of birds in the wild, even photos of captive birds can help us appreciate their beauty and their power and strength. Enjoy the photos!

Beanca Steppe Eagle

Horned Owl

ScreechOwl

Falcon

I_Love_you_too

ScreechOwl2

Photographing a future Super-Model

As many people may have noticed on my various social network sites (, Facebook, etc.) that I recently photographed a model named Laura. Laura is not just any model that many of us here in the Raleigh-Durham area, but a celebrity model.

Laura was the runner-up on . Several people have asked how I got this opportunity. Well, Laura is my great-niece. Her grandmother Wanda Sue is my sister.

My family has been suggesting that I get a chance to shoot her before she heads off to the to pursue her career. I had a very narrow window of time to do that. It had to be after the show finished and before her time demands make her unavailable to even family. That time was this past weekend.

I knew I wanted to accomplish several things while shooting her. Those included a beauty session, a couple of editorial sessions showing up some Wanda Sue’s Fashions. Wanda Sue (we just call her Sue) had made several of Laura’s outfits that she wore to the judging panel and Wanda Sue became kind of her own celebrity. Then I wanted to do a couple of high fashion looks.

To do this, I would need a styling team. I wanted someone excellent with hair and someone with a lot of creative makeup ideas. It would have been easy to pack up some limited gear, fly to Kentucky and shoot on her schedule. I would struggle to find the talent needed and even then, I wouldn’t have a working relationship with them. I also wanted to shoot the editorial shots in an urban setting, so it seemed logical that shooting here in Raleigh-Durham would be perfect. Stylists I trust are here and my location looks are here.

I contacted Jennifer at D’Jin Salon in Durham to see if she would be interested and she jumped at the opportunity. Her salon would serve as a perfect base of operation, doing studio shots in the salon and the editorial looks around downtown Durham.

For makeup, I had recently worked with Daniel from Libra Looks. He had a book of makeup ideas that he had been working on and was a fan of the show. Though Daniel and Jenn had not worked together, I got them emailing back and forth and let them have creative control over all styling related issues. Hey, I’m not a stylist.

They make Laura look good. She poses well. I make sure the photos are sharp and lit well and surely magic would happen.

While dodging interview after interview and local shoots, Laura and I worked out a plan to get her here. 37,500 frequent flyer miles and some taxes and fees later, she had a flight from Lexington to RDU.

To add an interesting twist to this, my youngest son’s Junior Ice Hockey team was playing two games in Wake Forest this same weekend and we had arranged to feed the team before their Saturday game. My wife’s parents drove in from Kentucky to see Chris play and help with the team meal.

My MIL has been watching ANTM all season and cheering for Laura so my wife and I decided to make this a surprise that Laura was coming in. In retrospect perhaps I should have had them pick her up on the way!

The surprise would have to be delayed 12 hours as filming for the Tyra Banks show caused Laura to miss her fight. The next flight wouldn’t get her to RDU until 8:30am the next day instead of 9pm the night before.

We also caught a break. Tropical Storm turned noreaster Ida damaged the fleet of vans Chris’s team was planning to use to get to Wake Forest. So they had to bring a bus and the driver limits prevented the team meal from becoming a reality.

The night before the shoot, the stylists hinted they were nervous about the shoot. We had no idea what wardrobe was coming and they saw an opportunity with a celebrity model as too important and didn’t want to blow it. I was worried too because other than the vague outline of what to shoot, I had no idea what “looks” to do. I don’t get chances with models of Laura’s calibre very often either and I didn’t want to blow it. But I had faith in the styling team so I knew it would be okay.

I also invited Tom Winstead to come shoot with us. Tom and I shoot a lot together and he has always helped me out and this was a good way to repay him for everything.

With the team set, we now only had to dodge the two hockey games because I don’t get to see Chris play often and with the in-laws in town, they were not to be missed. We also wanted to have at least one meal with him.

Saturday, 8:30am
Laura arrives at RDU. A quick trip back to my house for breakfast and then off to the salon.
11:00am
We arrive in Durham and the stylists start looking over the wardrobe and talk with Laura about the ideas. We start setting up lights, backgrounds and such while the styling beings. Visitors arrive in the form of my wife and in-laws to watch the beauty shoot portion. By 2pm, they depart.
3:00pm
We start the first of two editorial shoots. In between, we keep the the styling, but add a little additional makeup and Laura becomes a marionette puppet. A quick studio session with that look, then we style for the 2nd editorial look. Then back inside for the final two fashion looks.
6:30pm
Leave for Wake Forest and the hockey game. Luckily my wife brought the computer to the rink, so I was able to download and get some photos up quickly from the WiFi at the rink.
11:30pm
Leave the game for home. We arrive a little after midnight and its back to editing for a bit and we probably get to sleep after 1am.
Sunday, 8:30am
Time to start day 2. The hockey game was in the middle of the day, so after a breakfast, it was time to drive to the game. I got a little more editing and posting done before we departed. Its a 45 minute drive from home to the rink.
12:30pm
The 2nd game commences with more photoshop work in between periods. The game ends and we head to the local mall food court with the team.
4:00pm
We leave Wake Forest for Durham to start the second day’s photography. Its a 45 minute trip to the Salon. The stylists planned to get as many looks in as they could before we had to call it a wrap. Several of them were complex and required considerable styling time. Before we had to quit at 11pm, we got in four complex high fashion looks.
11:30pm
Finally home, a quick edit to get some shots from Sunday up and then call it a night
Monday 6:30am
The alarm goes off. Time to get Laura to the airport to send her home.

Through out this whole process, we all were in pure awe of how talented Laura is. I’ve never had this many keepers from a shoot. All of her poses are strong. Her facial expressions are spot on. Clearly she took Tyra Banks’ advice about “Smizing” (smiling with your eyes).

Laura is also incredibly versatile. Each look was different. Even within the same look, one angle would be completely different than another. Jenn describe her hair as perfect. She was a wonderful canvas for her and Daniel’s ideas. Laura hit it off well with the stylists which I now realize may be some of the most chemistry needed at a set. When sitting in a chair for over an hour being poked, prodded, glued and tugged, having a good report with them is important.

Then the camera turns to her and and infinite number of poses appear beautifully before the camera. It was the most incredible shoot I’ve been part of. Enjoy the photos.

Misty Mountain Hop

Morning Fog

I’ve lived in North Carolina for 10 years and I have yet to make a trip to the mountains in the fall. Visions of picturesque mountains vibrant with color and crystal blue skies danced in my mind as to what I would see.

Getting there, at least for me is hard. Its hockey season, which means my disposable income is trips for our boys hockey habits. Four hour trips with overnight stays and meals get expensive and finding a free weekend to go the other way for photography has historically not been practical. This year, I got an opportunity to go to the Mountains.

Blue Ridge Clouds

I planned this weekend a couple of months ago along with my friend, Lori, who lives there. The middle of October should be the peak of color. I had the weekend of October 10 free and so we decided that would be the weekend to go.

Mother Nature took a lesson from Murphy and his Laws.

RedandGreen

The trees are late changing. Warm temperatures and a wetter year has pushed the peak color back two-to-three weeks. About 1/3 of the leaves above 4,000 feet were changed. Saturday was a complete wash with rain and fairly dark skies. We had planned on Saturday for other activities so that wasn’t so bad, but Sunday, our morning to drive the parkway was fairly well fogged in.

I had actually hoped for foggy conditions, but not mountains in the clouds. I thought that the crystal blue skies and loads of color with fog laying low in the valleys would have been cool. The plan was to drive up to several spots along the Blue Ridge Parkway, ending up at a location called Graveyard Fields where you can access a couple of waterfall’s with an easy hike.

But as we headed out around 9:30 we realized that conditions were not good. A light rain was falling and you could barely see the mountains. With hopes it would pass and burn off, we trudged on. We would drive for a while and see a clearing where some sun was peeking though and find a pull off. But as we grabbed the cameras, the fog and clouds would move in and close off the shooting opportunity. This happened several times.

FoggyWaterfall

The original plan was to have a model with us to pose in the landscapes. But given the cold, wet conditions it was best that we didn’t have a model.

We passed a group of four photographers, cameras mounted to their tripods and aimed into the fog, patiently waiting for the fog to clear. Ironically as we returned, they were still there, still pointing at the fog. That’s dedication! At times visibility was less than 50′.

We eventually got to Graveyard Fields and caught a few moments before the fog rolled in. Since we were not going to get any sun, we headed down to the stream that feeds the Lower Falls. We stopped to photograph a nice spider web dripping in water droplets. As we reached the creek, there was a fairly nice scenic with the fog filling the gap between trees as the running brook ran with water. This was a good opportunity to try out slow shutter speeds to blur the water.

SpiderWeb

Not having a polarizer or a neutral density filter and only being able to get to ISO 100 meant cranking the F-Stop up to F32 or higher, to try and get a 1 second or half second exposure. The problem with that is two fold. Most lenses stink above F11 with regards to sharpness. With that tiny of an aperture, every spot of dust on my sensor stood out. Boy is my sensor icky.

We headed down to the lower falls. Getting down is easy. We shot around there for a bit and decided to head back as I had to return to Raleigh. As we drove back, the sun was finally staring to peek through and we stopped to get more traditional landscapes.

While I didn’t get those post-card photos, I think I prefer the bad conditions as they provided a much more moody landscape to photograph.

Overall I think were happy with the results.

Waterfall

FrenchBroadRiver

What do you think? Leave a comment below!

Attending photography meetups are a great way to learn . . .

more about photography.

TriangleStrobist01

You have that new camera you just picked up and you’ve tried to read the manual and it kinda makes sense, but you want to go learn and shoot some stuff. Yet you spend another night with the manual taking pictures of your furniture… There could be a good way to solve that problem.

Photo meetups!

In many communities, photographers get together and go shoot stuff. It could be anything from shooting sunsets to shooting urban decay to events like a small town rodeo. At meetups you get to meet other photographers who’s experience runs from someone who just got their first camera to seasons professionals — all sharing a common love of photography.

There are three main ways you can find meetups. Flickr, Meetup.com and your local computer club.

Flickr

Many photographer’s have found each other through Flickr. Flickr is a photo sharing service that has put a lot of effort into the social aspect of photography. Flickr has good tools for meeting other photographers. You can easily search for photographers, mark them as contacts and friends, email them, comment on their photos, mark your favorites and so on. Flickr also has “Groups” which let people come together on various interests. If you are into photographing urban grunge, there is a group for that. For meetups though, you need to find groups based on your location.

Searching for your city or region will give you a list of groups in your area. You can look at the information for the number of photographers and last activity. Find the one with the most photographers and recent activity and join them. If those groups are not currently having meetup’s free free to make a post inviting people to come to a meetup.

If you’re lucky you will find a raging active community with multiple meetup chances. Here in Raleigh-Durham, North Carolina we have three groups that manage active meetups:

The Raleigh Flickr Group and Raleigh Social group are tightly coupled. RFG holds a standing 1st Tuesday meeting every month. The topics vary, but frequently they are shooting based and generally involve meeting for drinks and dinner then shooting afterwards. RSG fills in with ad-hoc meetups that are scheduled when people feel like it and can vary from just getting together to random shoots. In addition to shooting and social meetups, these groups also get together to talk about post processing with programs like Adobe Photoshop or Lightroom .

Triangle Strobists is a bit more focused on using camera strobes for more creative lighting. Almost all of their meetups are shooting meetups where the photographers get together and share knowledge and equipment. They meet on the 3rd Tuesday every month. The photographers of Triangle Strobist are a sub-set of the overall Raleigh/Raleigh Social Group groups, so in effect we have two standing meetups and a lot of ad-hoc ones.

In all cases, the groups are open. There are no dues like clubs, you come when you can and no one judges you based on your skills. If you show up with a point and shoot or a pro grade camera you will be equally accepted. You will find this kind of openness among the Flickr meetup communities across the world.

Meetup.com

Meetup.com is a website for meetups, not just photography, but for any thing. But photography people make good use of it. You put in your topic you are interested in and your zip code and the website will present you with a list of meetup groups along with the number of photographers and you can find out how often they meet and what previous topics are.

Searching for a Raleigh zip code and photographers, 11 groups were presented. Some of the more popular ones include:

Local Camera Clubs

You can use Google or check with your local camera stores to find information about any local camera clubs. Many cities have them and some will be more active than others.

These various groups are great ways to meet new people with common interests and learn more about photography.

Are there any resources that you have found that helps you? Leave a comment below.

Sharing your photography knowledge with others.

This weekend will be a weekend I won’t forget for a long time.aton-mebel.ru

But we have to back up a few months to put this in context. There was twitter and all things were good. Then twitter started having problems and a bunch of other services started up. One such service is Plurk. Plurk is like twitter but its more conversational and you can develop friendships on Plurk much like you can on Flickr.

About 6 months ago, I met Susan, who is @ttpus here on Flickr. Much like any other internet relation, it takes time to build up trust. @ttpus is a photographer who shoots a lot of baby and senior portraits and some weddings, mostly natural light.trailer movie J. Cole: 4 Your Eyez Only 2017

In June, she planned to shoot her own daughter’s wedding but a week before hand she decided that she would rather have someone else shoot the wedding. She took a chance on someone she knew in 140 character chunks and flew me to Iowa to photograph the wedding.

While there, we talked a lot of shop and she was interested in getting into working with models, perhaps setup a home studio, but she would need to learn lighting.

We continued to talk about this after the wedding and she decided now was the time to move forward with this part of her photography. Using frequent flier miles she and her husband picked a weekend to come to Raleigh for me to teach her.

She’s a Canon owner (5D + 40D and 2 580EX II speedlites) and she knew she needed some real studio gear. A couple of weeks prior to her visit, we talked about what she needed. She ordered the studio gear and had it shipped to me, so I could make sure I knew it before she arrived.

A couple of days later, two hot pink Alien Bee 800’s along with light stands, umbrellas and a big 5′ x 3′ softbox showed up. Having had Monolights before, the AB800’s were a piece of cake to use. For what its worth, the light from them are just awesome. She also picked up a pair of pocket wizards and enough parts that she could also use her 580EX II’s off camera much like we do in our strobist setups (small shoot through white umbrella, light weight stand, etc)

To make her trip worthwhile, I booked a couple of models. I thought “Film Noir” would be a great introduction to lighting and booked the wonderful CoriLee as our model along with Jessica Dunn to do the makeup. This shoot would tie us up from 12-5 on Sunday.

For Saturday, we added in an urban street shoot to get her experience with the 580’s off camera and booked Laurie Lu to shot in the warehouse district in Raleigh.

Somewhere along the way I got the bright idea, since she shoots a lot of babies to find a six month old to give a free sitting too while she worked with her studio lights. My next door neighbor has a 5 month old, the timing was good, so we had our baby model which we shot prior to the Sunday session, now making that an 11am to 5pm shoot.

It got even better. My day job was needing a product shot with a hand model so I picked the item up Thursday since I took Friday off to work with Susan. Since these shots are going to run in ads, I was able to score “Tear Sheets” for everyone involved.

I needed a big softbox for the product shoot so the timing was perfect.

Friday arrived and my guests arrived around 1pm. After a brief lunch, we came back to the house and she and her husband got the Studio Lighting 101 class. They learned how to setup and break down the Alien Bee’s. How to use the pocket wizards. We discovered a bad hot shoe on her 40D which explained why she was having trouble getting her 580’s to work on that camera. Using hubby as a model she learned how to use her hand held meter to get the right exposure.

Saturday, we hung out in the morning and talked for a while before my wife and I introduced them to the wonderful cuisine known as “Clyde Coopers BBQ”. We drove around where we would be shooting to give her an idea of the scenery.

Both nights after shooting we downloaded her cards and analyzed her work. It was a great weekend, but afterward we were all quite beat. They arrived back in Iowa this morning and her Alien Bee’s are en-route to meet her in a few days.

I will miss my time with them.

For me it was a great time to give back and share what I’ve learned over the years. I hope she has great success with her plans.

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Director : Antonio Campos.
Writer : Craig Shilowich.
Producer : Melody C. Roscher, Craig Shilowich.
Release : October 14, 2016
Country : United States of America.
Production Company : BorderLine Films, Great Point Media, Fresh Jade.
Language : English.
Runtime : 123 min.
Genre : Drama.

‘Christine’ is a movie genre Drama, was released in October 14, 2016. Antonio Campos was directed this movie and starring by Rebecca Hall. This movie tell story about Christine is an ambitious 29-year-old news reporter, in Sarasota, FL, circa 1974. Relentlessly motivated to succeed, she knows she has talent, but being a driven career woman in the 1970s comes with its own challenges, especially when competition for a promotion, unrequited love for a coworker and a tumultuous home life lead to a dissolution of self. With ratings in the cellar, the station manager issues a mandate to deliver juicier and more exploitative stories, a story firmly at odds with Christine’s serious brand of issue-based journalism. To accomplish her goals, she must overcome her self-doubt and give the people what they want.

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Understanding “The Rule of Thirds”

One of the first things almost every photographer is taught early on is the “Rule of Thirds”. This is a very simple rule that will transform your snapshots into works of art.berryjam.ru

Basically put, a piece of art, in this case a photo is more interesting when the subject is not centered, but instead off centered 1/3 of the way into the photo.

Look at this graphic:Watch Full Movie Online Streaming Online and Downloadwatch film The Transporter Refueled now

Rule of Thirds Grid

This is a typical 4×6 photo divided into a “Tic-Tac-Toe” grid. In this case the vertical and horizontal lines divide the photo into “Thirds”. One set, is a left, middle and right thirds, another set is top, middle and bottom. We will refer to these as the Rule of Third’s Lines. The for points where the lines cross each other, we will refer to the Rule of Third’s Points.

So as a rule, your photo will be more interesting if your subject appears at one of the 4 points or uses the lines to divide the photo.

Now, lets examine this photo. This is clearly a snap-shot. I took it and I admit, composing this wasn’t high on my list. I put my center AF point on the subjects eye’s and fired.

Moving the subject left to the cross point of the top and left lines would have minimized background distractions and waisted space above the subject.

Our subject’s head is dead centered in the frame. There is waisted space on either side of him and over top of his head. A simple move to bring his eyes to the top rule of third line would have done wonders for this photo. It would have been even better had I moved his head to the top-left point with him telling his story into the frame. This wasted space, be it empty space, or a busy background is called “Negative Space”. Negative Space simply put is space that doesn’t contribute to the photo.

Now lets look at another example, this time a Landscape.

A landscape using the Rule of Thirds

This time, I chose to use the Rule of Thirds to divide the frame into three horizontal bands. The snowy foreground, the lake and trees and the sky are balanced across the frame. None of the three main areas dominate the photo keeping negative space to a minimum. The position of the tree’s prevented me from putting them on the Rule of Thirds vertical lines but the photo is still kind of broken into thirds horizontally.

As with any rule, they are more like guidelines than “thou must” hard fast rules. There are times where the Rule of Thirds simply doesn’t work. Some notable exceptions include shooting a sunrise over an ocean. If you put the horizon on the bottom 3rd, the sky better be very interesting or it will begin to degrade the photo. Put the horizon at the top third and the ocean will dominate and pull down the interestingess of the photo. In this case centering the horizon may be a better choice.

In this example:

rule-of-thirds-example-5

The subject is centered vertically, but I’ve used the grate to split the frame into 3rds. I did not do a good job balancing the model vertically and as a result there is a little too much space at the top and her feet are a bit cramped along the bottom.

Had I spent a little more time with the composition, I could have placed the Rule of Thirds line at her knees and the top of her dress and made this killer.

Now this can be salvaged by cropping the photo. In this case, instead of it being a 4×6, a 5×7 would let me trim probably enough off the top to fix the photo.

rule-of-thirds-example-4

In this case, I’m a touch off, but by putting the eyes on the top rule of thirds line. Even so, her eyes are close to the points. You don’t have to be precise with being exactly on the lines or points, but use it as a guideline to avoid centering your subject.

Most head shot portraits will fit well within the Rule of Thirds. You are probably using it and not knowing it.

Use the “Rule of Thirds” as a starting point to your creative compositions. Other compositions can be even more dramatic and of course there will be times where centering makes the best since.

Using Your Camera’s Meter to Set Exposure

In the last post we talked about shooting in Manual mode and the key to being successful in Manual mode is a full understanding of exposure. That means understanding the relationship between changing aperture and shutter speed. We discussed how cameras meter to a middle gray and how that can be thrown off. In this post, we are going to continue to understand how the meter works so you can better detect situations where the camera will get it wrong and how when shooting in manual to determine if the exposure is right.

First up we have to understand how metering works. Look at this diagram:

lightexposure

The light source, in this case the sun, is falling on the subject. The light then bounces off the subject toward the photographer where the camera measures the amount of light. In this scene, the light also bounces off of the tree, the sky and the ground and it reflects towards the camera as well.

In days of old when our camera’s did not have meters, we used hand held meters and read the light at the subject. Its called “Incident Metering”. This meter is the most accurate since it measures the exact amount of light at the subject and does not take the background into consideration.

When our cameras got internal meters, they were able to now measure the light reflected off the subject. These are called “reflectance meters”. They do a great job in most cases where the scene’s different tones all average out to a middle value and can be fooled.

Most cameras have multiple ways of measuring the light. Modern cameras will typically have three different options:

  • Matrix or Evaluative
  • Center Weighted
  • Spot or Partial Spot

Matrix or Evaluative metering is probably the meter mode you use the most. It is the default meter mode on most modern cameras. In this mode, the camera reads data from multiple locations across the frame. Some might be as few as 5 locations to over 1000. These values are then compared to a list of scenes stored in the camera’s database. The engineers evaluated over 30,000 different shooting combinations and they compare the information coming from the different cells in the matrix of sensors looking for a match in the database and it determines the best exposure. In theory, this is smart enough to detect snowy or beach scenes or troublesome backlit scenes and adjust the camera accordingly. This should cause more photos to be exposed properly.

Center Weighted reads the center of the frame (typically the inside area bounded by all the autofocus points) and measures the light there. It also measures the light outside this area. Then it averages the two giving a bias to the center area, letting it factor into say 2/3 of the exposure and the outer area 1/3 of the exposure. This is based on the fact that most people who shoot photos are people taking snap-shots and those people tend to center their subjects. This is the method that most old film cameras use.

The Spot meter measures a very small spot of the view finder. This is a very precise measurement. For many camera’s that spot is about the size of the center autofocus point and is located in the center. More advanced cameras can read its “spot” from any of the autofocus points.

If your shooting in automatic modes, Matrix meters will generally give you the best measurement. Many cameras recommend that if you shoot manual mode to not use Matrix metering but it still gives the best measurement for an in camera meter.

Manually adjusting Exposure

meter

The "250" in the display is the shutter speed, in this case 1/250th of a second. The 9.5 is the aperture, which is 1/3 stop above F8

Your camera has a gauge in its viewfinder. Older cameras might have a needle that slides up and down and when its level the exposure is “correct”, meaning the camera now thinks the camera thinks the camera’s settings will produce a middle gray exposure. More modern cameras will have a digital gauge in viewfinder that looks like +|–0–|- with a pointer underneath the gauge. Each pip represents 1/3 of a stop of exposure either over (towards the +) or under (towards the -) exposure. (some cameras will be in half stops and may show up to two stops over/under exposure). The exposure is “correct” when its at 0 .

While pointing your camera at your subject, you adjust either the shutter speed dial up or down or you adjust the aperture up or down (and with digital you can even adjust the ISO up or down) until the pointer reaches the 0 point. Of course there will be times where you don’t want a zero setting, such as shooting sunsets, or the white background high key portraits and you can adjust the camera to over or under expose for the effect your going for.

When you recognize that the matrix meter is not going to get you the right exposure, its time to switch over to the spot meter and take advantage of it.

In situations where you are in control of the setting, say family portraits, you can have your subject hold a “Gray Card” which can be picked up at most camera stores. These gray cards are middle gray. You then aim your spot meter at the gray card and adjust the meter is centered. This should give you a very accurate measurment for the exposure.

Sometimes you can’t use a gray card in that case you try to find something thats lit with the same light as your subject. Outdoors you can use grass as long as its not washed out from the sun reflecting at you or you can use a light asphalt or darker concrete to get close. I’ve even used the referee’s stripes to meter off of geting a black and white stripe in the area of the spot.

So put it all together. You have light. You read it using the meter in the camera. You adjust the shutter speed or aperture up or down until the meter reads the right amount of light. Take a perfectly exposed photo. Sit back and enjoy the marvel and wonder.

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