Gasman
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Manual Exposure

Sun Aug 23, 2015 4:09 am

I can't believe, as a "photographer" with nearly 30 years experience, I've only just started doing this in my aviation photography.

Instead of relying on the camera's inbuilt meter, with readings bouncing all over the place as I track aircraft around the sky, I now set the camera to manual after taking incident light meter readings. This seems to nail the exposure every time.

It's kind of photography 101 really......... I guess I always considered that as the aircraft are some distance away, that incident readings from my location wouldn't be reliable. They won't always be, I know, but it seems a hell of a lot better than using the camera's inbuilt meter.

Anyone concur?
 
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NZ107
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RE: Manual Exposure

Sun Aug 23, 2015 8:01 am

It could also be partly due to the metering you use in the camera. I usually use evaluative metering. I use manual for flash photography, night panning and long exposures.

If the weather is partly cloudy, you could struggle with manual exposure if the plane goes in and out of the shadows unless you're quick enough to change it to the right settings between shots and hope the lighting situation doesn't change again.
It's all about the destination AND the journey.
 
dazbo5
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RE: Manual Exposure

Sun Aug 23, 2015 10:37 am

Quoting gasman (Thread starter):
Anyone concur?

Yes, I've been shooting manual for a number of years. If the conditions (light levels) are changeable, I'll still use Av but if there's little cloud and the light is static, manual is my preferred option.

Darren
Equipment: 2x Canon EOS 50D; Sigma 10-20 EX DC HSM, 50-500 EX APO DG, Canon 24-105 f/4 L, Speedlite 430EX
 
vikkyvik
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RE: Manual Exposure

Sun Aug 23, 2015 7:20 pm

I've been using full manual for about 90% of my photographic career (which only started 5.5 years ago).

I don't have a light meter outside the camera's meter. I just use that to get a rough idea, then adjust by eye and the histogram.

For most of my shooting (low light, night, sunset, astro stuff, etc.), manual works far better than any automatic mode. And as I noted in another thread, if I do screw a shot up, I'd rather know why I screwed it up rather than wonder why the camera screwed it up.
I'm watching Jeopardy. The category is worst Madonna songs. "This one from 1987 is terrible".
 
photopilot
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RE: Manual Exposure

Sun Aug 23, 2015 7:53 pm

Quoting gasman (Thread starter):
Instead of relying on the camera's inbuilt meter, with readings bouncing all over the place as I track aircraft around the sky, I now set the camera to manual after taking incident light meter readings.


Simply wonderful news and I'm right with you.

I've been using a MINOLTA Autometer 4F which is a magical instrument that measures both incident, reflected (with attachment) and flash exposures all at the touch of a button.

Using a true incident meter reading, and understanding what it is, how to apply it, and what variables you need to take account of is the hallmark of a true photographer (IMHO) vs just a button pusher.

Hell, if you understand light and it's value, and remember the old photographer's axiom of (shutter speed of 1/ASA at f:16 for bright sun), then adjust accordingly to conditions, you could get good photos with no meter at all.

I always applaud those photographers who take the time to learn their craft and all the tools/techniques/knowledge to make them a better photographer.

Well done Sir!!!!
 
Gasman
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RE: Manual Exposure

Sun Aug 23, 2015 8:10 pm

Quoting vikkyvik (Reply 3):
I don't have a light meter outside the camera's meter. I just use that to get a rough idea, then adjust by eye and the histogram.

I'd really encourage you to get one! I have a Sekonik meter that measures incident, reflected and flash and cost about $200 USD.

Taking incident light meter readings - ie. measuring the light falling on to the subject rather than off it - nails the exposure every time!! And I mean really nails it. It's such a simple thing to do, that it's worth experiencing just to see how effective it is even if you don't ultimately want to perform most of your photography this way.
 
Silver1SWA
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RE: Manual Exposure

Sun Aug 23, 2015 9:45 pm

It's always great to see photographers get more comfortable with manual exposure. I'm a huge proponent of manual mode but not because I think it's the only way to take a good photo. Photographers just shouldn't be afraid to try it because they feel intimidated.

The greatest benefit for me shooting almost exclusively manual for the past few years is that I can now be my own light meter. With enough experience you can look at a scene and know what's a pretty good starting point.
ALL views, opinions expressed are mine ONLY and are NOT representative of those shared by Southwest Airlines Co.
 
iamlucky13
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RE: Manual Exposure

Thu Aug 27, 2015 1:51 am

Definitely yes. I still actually need to invest in an incident light meter, but even spot metering off of objects of approximately known brightness or a grey card as a rough incident method and setting the exposure manually has given me far more consistent readings.

As long as the subject is in the same lighting as you are, incident metering is the way to go.

When lighting is different, I spot meter and adjust based on what I know about the surface I'm metering off of. This saves me from the constantly changing exposures that evaluative metering throws at me as the background changes.
 
sealy1986
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Re: Manual Exposure

Thu Aug 17, 2017 7:09 pm

I myself learned the hard way to ignore reflective metering when photographing aircraft because the scene changes quite often depending on how much the aircraft/scene is in shadow.
For example if you have evaluative metering selected and most of the scene contains a blue sky, it will set exposure to the sky, dimming it down, and making your plane slightly underexposed.
Generally you want the sky a touch higher exposed because the plane is in shadow. If I am shooting ground to air, I prefer to give lighting priority to the aircraft, since there is no interest in the background aka the boring blue sky. If I have some clouds, I will underexpose the plane JUST a touch, making sure I don't clip the highlights in the clouds.


My most comfortable way I've been doing it is the following:

1. Place my camera into live view mode with histogram as overlay
2. Looking at histogram, I check what proper exposure should be in the brightest part of my scene (highlights)
3. Next I check what the proper exposure should be in the darkest parts of my scene (shadows)

For example: I take point my camera at runway along some tree lines, lot of things in shadows, and it says my proper exposure is 1/200.
Then I point my camera in sky toward Sun and it says proper exposure is 1/800.

3. I set my exposure in the middle of my results.

4. I set exposure compensation with values of -1 , 0, and +1 stops to capture the entire range.

This situation generally works for me because the different in light between shadows and highlights is usually within a stop or two, which the dynamic range of my camera is capable of handling.
On a sunny day where lighting is even, there is not much variation between the stops of light, so bracketing -1 and +1 exposures is plenty good enough.

The only downside to my system is you have a LOT of extra photos, however I find its an acceptable trade off considering the lighting landscape changes as you pan throughout the scene, or zoom in/out to photograph the aircraft. I would much rather get a evaulation of how the lighting is in my scene, and bracket around it to get an appropriate exposure to my liking, than have the camera meter consistently mess up and underexpose the shots.

Most of the time you will find you are limited in what exposures you pull off with certain scenarios.

For example at airshows, for air-to-air shots, you need to set the shutter speed to a slower speed to capture prop blur, so you can't really be any higher than 1/250 of a second. This means you are forced to either use a ND filter to keep your aperture down, or use a narrower aperture (f/16, f/22) which limits your sharpness.

Jets are the easiest to film because you can set your shutter speed to a higher amount 1/1000, but you want to be mindful of HOW fast you can do, because the aperture of your lens, even at wide open, may still underexpose the shot.
 
JakTrax
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Re: Manual Exposure

Thu Aug 17, 2017 10:33 pm

I used manual pre-digital (for about 18 years) so was glad to give myself a break when cameras became more advanced! I still sometimes use manual, but rarely. Since most of my photos are sunny side-ons, I've learned how to get the camera to accurately meter when in the semi-auto (Av/Tv) modes.

As mentioned, manual is great when the light is fairly uniform, however throw in clouds and background variation and it can end badly. Another thing that used to get me is that I often forgot I was in manual and goofed up so many shots on the next shoot because of it. Shooting RAW compensates for the odd slight under/over-exposure.

On the rare occasion I go for something a little different (sunset shots, for instance), I much prefer manual.

On a final note, in my experience, simply tinkering with the colour/WB manually in camera can make a small difference to how well exposed your images look. I've noticed that when an image is overtly red, for example, it looks more underexposed than the same image with an increase in blue. I've not gone into enough detail to compare hsitograms of the same image with varying hues, but imagine there would be one.
 
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jelpee
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Re: Manual Exposure

Sat Aug 19, 2017 10:34 pm

I find that the auto exposure modes in today's cameras are very accurate for 90% of my photography needs and will adjust quickly to a changing scene especially with aviation photography where one tracks an aircraft that could travel though various backgrounds. I use Sv for properller aircraft or helicopters to get some prop blur; also use Sv for panning. If I'm doing silhouettes, or shooting against an extremely bright background such as snow, I still use Av with exposure compensation. The only times that I have gone fully manual is when I've photographed a cockpit and needed to balance the exposure for the view through the cockpit windows as well as suitably illuminate the interior with a flash. For this situation, I expose for the outside using Av, use those settings in manual and then use a flash in TTL mode.

My 2 pennies worth!

Jehan
Airliners.net Crew - Photo Screener
 
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cpd
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Re: Manual Exposure

Sun Aug 20, 2017 3:42 am

I'm one of the old hands when it comes to manual exposure. It is most useful for the those night time photos with backgrounds of varying brightness - in my experience cameras can get fooled by the background lights in this scenario and will then muck up the exposure of the plane.

We are talking about shutter speeds of 1/3sec (hand held) and using ISO1600 or ISO3200 and F/2.8, so not the average run of the mill situations that you normally come across.

The crew member above talks about auto exposure adjusting quickly to a changing scene that could travel through various backgrounds, that's exactly the reason why you don't want to use the auto modes - you want predictable exposure across the series of shots.

I tend to predict what settings I need by photographing a plane ahead of the one I'm really interested in - that is the base line for settings and then experience comes into play and I adjust it based on that. That's where the knowledge of balancing shutter speed, ISO and aperture comes into play. :old:
 
JakTrax
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Re: Manual Exposure

Sun Aug 20, 2017 2:58 pm

I speak only for myself, Chris, but with all the cameras I've owned I get more reliable exposures using Av than manual when my subject travels across a varying background. You can have a giant, dark cumulonimbus just one frame ahead of a bright blue sky, and the exposure will of course need to be different; I cannot change my settings quickly and reliably enough to compensate for this if in manual, since the frames are less than a second apart (unless of course one does as you suggest by metering the aircraft ahead - but the background can still change dramatically by the time your next subject arrives). I find Av does a good enough job and, since I shoot RAW most of the time, any slight discrepancy can easily be corrected. I'd agree that there's certainly more fine control in manual but it's also a lot riskier when the semi-auto modes these days do so well.

That said, old 35mm cameras seemed to me to be more forgiving when used manually.

Karl
 
iamlucky13
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Re: Manual Exposure

Thu Aug 24, 2017 12:51 am

JakTrax wrote:
I speak only for myself, Chris, but with all the cameras I've owned I get more reliable exposures using Av than manual when my subject travels across a varying background. You can have a giant, dark cumulonimbus just one frame ahead of a bright blue sky, and the exposure will of course need to be different;


Do you mean the plane flew into the shadow of the cloud, or the cloud is in the background?

Those are very different scenarios with respect to metering. One requires a change, but the other does not, and which metering mode you are in is more important than which exposure mode you are in.
 
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spompert
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Re: Manual Exposure

Thu Aug 24, 2017 6:31 am

iamlucky13 wrote:

Those are very different scenarios with respect to metering. One requires a change, but the other does not, and which metering mode you are in is more important than which exposure mode you are in.

So which metering mode do you guys use? Spot, evaluative or center weighted? I use evaluative but thinking about it spot metering would be the best right? But I never had any problems with exposure to be honest.
 
JakTrax
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Re: Manual Exposure

Thu Aug 24, 2017 1:35 pm

Cloud in the background. Of course metering mode matters more - this is my point - for me, full manual doesn't deliver as consistently because there are too many variables between shots (especially here in England!). It's easier to just use Av and correct any slight discrepancy using the RAW file. I rarely find myself increasing/decreasing the exposure by more than about 1/5 of a stop.... if at all.

Spompert, if you've never had exposure issues, carry on as you are. The 'what's best' argument is subjective - I'm getting exposures accurate enough, so for me the best mode is Av. There is no real 'best' mode - it should be the one that gets you the results you need.

I only typically use evaluative and centre-weighted, although both can be fooled so I often use them with stop comp. dialled in. If you've a very dark background and a mostly-white subject, I'd use centre-weighted average, although I often find myself having to up the comp. to +0.3EV.

Some rave about manual but my opinion is that, if you set up your camera correctly in Av or Tv, your results will be indistinguishable. And bear in mind, I did 18 years of manual shooting with Ricoh and Minolta SLRs, so I'm not a noob.

Karl

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