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08-21-2017, 07:15 AM   #1
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Bright sun, underexposed pics. Where did I get the settings wrong?

Dear all

I just came back from my trip to Indonesia. It's the dry season over there with brilliant sunlights every day. Having said that, I'm very surprised when I found some pictures pretty underexposed under that lighting condition. I'm not sure where I was wrong with the camera settings. I enclose hereby some pics. Grateful if you could help shed some lights on this case. Many thanks in advance!

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08-21-2017, 07:20 AM   #2
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Always check your histogram. I regularly shoot images from -3 EV to +1 EV depending on circumstances.
08-21-2017, 08:08 AM - 1 Like   #3
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Why not just bring up the shadows in post processing?
08-21-2017, 08:11 AM - 2 Likes   #4
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IMHO, for this kind of scenes, multizone metering might be preferable to centerweight.

But no matter what, they technically look correctly exposed, although they might not be to your taste. The camera seems to have done a good job of keeping everything on scale without blowing up the sky or filling up the shadows (although I didn't check the histogram). Now, from there, if not to your taste it's your job to tell the camera that you prefer a slightly overexposed shot by applying exposure compensation (the +/- button), as suggested above by Norm. If you have the RAW, you can use in-body raw processing to apply some correction to generate supplemental OOC jpg more to your liking.

08-21-2017, 08:23 AM - 1 Like   #5
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Yep....bright sunshine, reflective sand, reflective water....always at risk of the camera underexposing.

The third one is fine
08-21-2017, 08:34 AM   #6
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Thank you. I know I should have checked the histogram. Thus, when I look at such pics again I just want to kick myself in the bum.
Back to the pics, when I looked at the EXIF, my instinct also suggested it was the metering mode. Though, when I look at some other pictures (below), they weren't as dark and underexposed. All of them were taken with the same metering mode, what are the key elements that decide the exposure here? And can you confirm that mutizone metering for the win when I take picture at the beach? Thanks again.
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08-21-2017, 08:35 AM   #7
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Most of the times I shoot a lot like you did here. Better have normally exposed skies rather than overexposed skies. And here comes the moment we all love Pentax for: bringing up the shadows with no loss. Here is and absolutely dark RAW image (except for the perfectly exposed sky) after PP.

08-21-2017, 09:13 AM   #8
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It does not show in the exif but I wonder if exposure compensation was inadvertently set to -1 or so.

08-21-2017, 09:29 AM - 2 Likes   #9
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I would be very happy with these exposures! You're sure of keeping all highlight details plus you're enriching the colors. If you want little brighter then that's something to do in processing, perhaps raising only the midtones and shadows a bit, keeping highlights as they are.
08-21-2017, 09:38 AM - 1 Like   #10
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another vote that your pictures actually came out pretty well. If you look at the clouds and white caps on the water in the first, you still have detail versus blown out highlights. I think that is preferable and as already mentioned, you can tweak the other areas in post processing. Much easier and better results to bring something up than deal with something blown out with no detail left. You've got detail and colors look good. You could have done far worse.
08-21-2017, 09:38 AM   #11
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OP - I was like you scratching my head what the heck did I do wrong? Saw some youtube tutorials and learned, in that situation Spot meter + moving focus point to where you want, might give you better result. For instance on the second picture you could have kept the focus on the beautiful lady with spot meter to get a better shot. I haven't tried it yet.

But like others suggested capture in RAW or need to play with Exposure compensation, may be use built-in surf and snow scene mode?
08-21-2017, 11:58 AM - 1 Like   #12
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I would not advise using spot metering for this sort of image. The Matrix Pattern metering is ideal, and then make small exposure compensation adjustments if needed referring to the histogram. Yes, you could have set +0.5 or +0.7 EC for these shots and had them a bit brighter out of the camera, but the slightly underexposed results you have are safer, and will ensure you can produce the best looking images overall once they are processed.

Last edited by mcgregni; 08-22-2017 at 04:41 AM.
08-21-2017, 12:38 PM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by lushdimple11 Quote
Thank you. I know I should have checked the histogram. Thus, when I look at such pics again I just want to kick myself in the bum.
Back to the pics, when I looked at the EXIF, my instinct also suggested it was the metering mode. Though, when I look at some other pictures (below), they weren't as dark and underexposed. All of them were taken with the same metering mode, what are the key elements that decide the exposure here? And can you confirm that mutizone metering for the win when I take picture at the beach? Thanks again.
When you play on your camera, you did many adjustments or changed settings to the taste you like - say from Auto to P to Av..to ..etc. , then you decide to go back to Auto and shoot photos then the result is not what you expected like the first try you have in Auto or P mode. This is because the previous settings are carried on to the next mode. ( correct me if i am wrong ). The best way is to reset camera when you go back to the best mode you like before shooting. In this way the settings you have made before is erased and default setting is working. Your pictures are result of mixed previous settings that is carried on.
08-21-2017, 01:22 PM - 1 Like   #14
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Can't see anything wrong with the settings, other than maybe the center weight metering. Then again, I don't see the problem with lifting the midtones a bit. I do that for most of my shots anyway.

I took the liberty to do a quick curve adjustment on one of your images, I hope you don't mind. The only tool I have at hand is Snapseed on my phone, so this was really quick and dirty

08-21-2017, 05:03 PM   #15
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Full daylight is tough to meter with reflected light. Often a good method when there is clear patch of blue sky--is to spot meter that.

---------- Post added 08-21-17 at 05:08 PM ----------

QuoteOriginally posted by lushdimple11 Quote
All of them were taken with the same metering mode, what are the key elements that decide the exposure here?
If the scene is balanced with roughly 50% bright and 50% dark (or large areas of a midtone)--the meter gets the correct exposure. But when it is mostly bright, the meter will underexpose. Ditto if the scene is mostly dark, the meter will overexpose. As I said reflected light reading is tough for the camera to "guess" what the scene is. Matrix metering may help--but the best is that you learn a bit about exposure (old school stuff).

Last edited by dms; 08-21-2017 at 05:12 PM.
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