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08-20-2012, 09:52 PM   #1
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What should I meter in this situation?

I was taking photos of my friends while having lunch. I wasn't satisfied with the exposure of my photos. We were all sitting under an umbrella outside at 1pm. The sun was bright, but it was a little cloudy, so it wasn't blazing bright. I was metering faces and torsos. When that didn't work, I tried metering the floor, but that didn't work either. All my pictures were too dark or too bright. What should I have metered?

Also, K-30 has spot , center-weighted, and multi-zone metering. What should I have used in this case?

Additional info: My 50mm lens didn't have a hood, and I was using big apertures (~F2.0).

Thanks for any help.

08-20-2012, 10:03 PM   #2
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Use spot and meter from face and u get static results. Exact exposure compensation depends on skin color but normal white skin around 0.3-0.5EV, asians around -0.7EV and black skin -1EV or more.
08-20-2012, 10:09 PM   #3
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Well... cameras aren't magic. The ideal thing to do when you have a high contrast situation is to minimize the contrast using fill flash or a light reflector.

When you cannot do that, you just meter for your subject (people) and let the rest blow out, then compensate accordingly. Whatever you do, you definitely don't want to use matrix metering: the camera will just average out the scene and you'll get underexposed subjects on overexposed backgrounds - a crappy photo overall.

On a side note: f/2.0 might be too much for outdoors if you had ISO accidentally set too high. It's possible the camera started hitting max shutter speed and overexposing your photos too.
08-20-2012, 10:23 PM - 1 Like   #4
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I personally would have used spot metering and exposure lock. Metering for the subject and shooting in raw.

I would meter the most important part of the scene and lock the exposure for that, recompose how I wanted, then take the shot. If the subject was too dark I would dial in some exposure compensation and re-take. In the situation you cannot review and retake, RAW format with the exceptional Dynamic range of the k30 sensor will come to the rescue in development. You can recover very significant amounts of detail from the shadows.

The other alternative is to use flash. I avoid flash as I am not so good with it, but this can be used to fill the shadows and create a more even light.
A couple of guides to this are here: the strobist.blogspot is a very thorough resource for all things flash on a budget.
Fill Flash
Strobist: Lighting 102: 3.2 - Balance | Flash/Sun Crosslighting

08-21-2012, 03:49 AM   #5
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Aside from using spot metering and metering off something that you want middle tone, there is another question to ask.

We're you shooting jpeg or raw. If jpeg, you should also set contrast to minimum to give the widest dynamic range possible, as well as setting highlight and shadow detail protection on (if the k30 has these features, the K7 and K5 do, but I don't know the K30)

Matrix metering can also work because it can elect to ignore hot spots. Also a hood will increase contrast if the sun is visible to the camera
08-21-2012, 04:31 AM   #6
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Shoot jpeg and use the HDR function on page 2 menu
08-21-2012, 06:02 AM - 3 Likes   #7
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There's a classic trick that us old film shooters use: hold your free hand in the same light as your subject and take a centre-weighted reading off the palm of your hand. You use your palm because it's less likely to be affected by tanning. Before you try the trick for the first time, get hold of an 18% grey card and compare the exposure off the card with the exposure off your palm so that you know how your skin tone compares - and, yes, it will work for photographers of any ethnic background. For example, I'm a sun-deprived rain-soaked English white guy, so I need to add 1/3 stop to the reading off my palm to get the equivalent of a grey card reading. It doesn't matter what skin colour your subject has, because this method is a way of reading the incident light falling on the scene, not the light reflected off it.

I use this trick whenever I'm in the slightest doubt about exposure, and it never fails. Although you do get bored of people asking why you're taking a photograph of your hand.

Last edited by Dartmoor Dave; 08-21-2012 at 06:10 AM. Reason: Clarified how to use method.
08-21-2012, 08:10 AM   #8
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Thanks for the suggestions everyone.

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