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11-11-2013, 01:28 PM   #1
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Overcast and overexposed

I'm not really a beginner, but I always have tons if questions. Also, I have no way to upload my photos at the moment, but I'll try to attach them later.

Is it normal for photos to be overexposed when the sky is overcast? I was out today under very bright overcast sky, and quite a few of my photos were overexposed when there was sky included in the frame. I was in aperture priority and center-weighted metering. New K-500 and DA 40 Limited. I checked the aperture lever, and the blade movement seems smooth.

I dialed in -1 exposure compensation, and the pics were better, and some shots I took were fine. If the sky is bright, why wouldn't the pics be underexposed?

11-11-2013, 01:41 PM   #2
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QuoteOriginally posted by DennisH Quote
center-weighted metering
If the subject matter in the center area of your scene was dark, then the center weighting would be the reason.
11-11-2013, 01:45 PM   #3
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Thanks for responding. It wasn't dark; it was a tree across a pond in Central Park. Also, I think I took a shot with matrix metering with similar results. I'll have to check.
11-11-2013, 01:46 PM   #4
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Yeah, it sounds normal. You as a photographer have to allow for the extremes in the lighting. A light or bright overcast sky is brighter that a clear blue sky and may overexpose. Try full-frame (or multi-segment) metering rather than centre weighted. Or make sure the sky is in about 1/2 of the metering field and then lock the exposure.

If you are going to take a series of pics with the outdoor light and the sky will be in the image, set to manual and use the green exposure button to set the exposure while framing the sky as above. (You can put more or less sky in the frame while pressing the green button to adjust for correct exposure.) You can then take a series of shots. This way all the shots will have the same correct exposure. If you use auto mode, the exposure will be different from frame to frame and some blown out.

11-11-2013, 01:49 PM   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by DennisH Quote
it was a tree across a pond in Central Park.
Which will be significantly darker than the sky. With center weighted metering the camera exposed for the tree and the sky gets blown out. On bright sunny days, the tree might have actually been brighter and closer to the brightness of the sky, at least close enough that the camera could fit both things within it's dynamic range. But with an overcast sky the difference between sky and subject is often greater than the camera can handle. You need to adjust for that by applying - EV compensation and then pulling up the shadow areas in PP. Or use a bracketed shot and combine in PP.
11-11-2013, 01:54 PM   #6
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Was the subject overexposed, or just the sky?
11-11-2013, 01:55 PM   #7
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Ok, sounds good. I did like the shots I took at -1, so that makes sense. Thanks, all.

Edit: the subject was overexposed - the tree and pond, and in review, the sky is not blinking red.
11-11-2013, 06:32 PM   #8
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FYI: here are the two pictures. The first is with no exposure compensation; the second is -1. Photos were shot RAW, rotated and converted to JPEG only. I don't know if the exif data is there or not.

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11-11-2013, 06:52 PM   #9
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The majority of the scene is in fact dark. Looks to me like the camera worked as it should.
11-11-2013, 07:37 PM   #10
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Really? That first picture isn't overexposed?

I'm sure the camera did what it was supposed to; I'm just not sure what it was.

Thanks.
11-11-2013, 08:01 PM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by DennisH Quote
Really? That first picture isn't overexposed?

I'm sure the camera did what it was supposed to; I'm just not sure what it was.

Thanks.
Yes, the first one is overexposed because the subject is a bit dark and with center-weighted metering, it is just that - center-weighted. The sky is mostly ignored.
11-11-2013, 08:56 PM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by DennisH Quote
Really? That first picture isn't overexposed?

I'm sure the camera did what it was supposed to; I'm just not sure what it was.

Thanks.
My reply might have been confusing - I'll try and elaborate: The scene is somewhat "dark" but the cameras metering is made to look for something brighter (an average of 18% gray). Since the majority of the scene (depending on the area being metered - in you case center-weighted) averages to a darker value, the camera compensates by letting in more light.

If you had attempted to photograph the sky instead, it would have turned out gray - too dark - because the sky is brighter than 18% gray, which in turn would lead the camera to let less light in.

The first photo is essentially wrong, but the camera did what it is supposed to do - it's just that the metering system can't tell tones apart from actual light there is or isn't available. To it, a black wall is the same as for instance a wall room with no light shining on it.

The Zone System has helped me to understand and predict exposures better - perhaps you can benefit from it as well: Understanding & Using Ansel Adam's Zone System ? Photography ? Tuts+

(I initially read a different article, but can't find the link).
11-11-2013, 09:36 PM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by DennisH Quote
Really? That first picture isn't overexposed?

I'm sure the camera did what it was supposed to; I'm just not sure what it was.

Thanks.
The first pic does look a little overexposed even considering the centre weighted metering. You might try some simple tests. Deep red, green and blue will all be about 18% grey. Green foliage, green grass, fire hydrant or deep blue sky will all have about 18% grey. If you spot meter on them and take a shot of the area, you should get a decent exposure. The pic should be close to what you saw.
11-11-2013, 09:36 PM   #14
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Metering is sometimes wrong. The sheer variety of possible scenes and how they can be photographed make perfect metering difficult. A DSLR can be a great teaching tool for metering. Pay attention to how the meter sees a scene, compared to how it should have seen it. Skies, night scenes, solid reds or blues, snow, and other conditions are tough for the meter. Some of the scene modes on your K-500 are designed to tell the meter what to look for, to help it suggest a better exposure. Photographers have developed a lot of tricks to help with exposure too. It is a book-length topic.
11-12-2013, 12:30 AM   #15
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If the second shot is -1 then since the op shot raw the sky should be easily recoverable from shot one. If you spot meter the sky, open up two stops you can recover the cloud or blue sky detail from a k5 raw it has plenty latitude
Does not matter what metering matrix you used the scene shown here was beyond a one shot will be right dynamic range
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