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01-18-2016, 10:56 PM   #1
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Using spot metering

Hello All,
I do a lot of bird shooting, and often the bird is in a tree, in shade in the foliage and against a bright sky.
Of late I have been using centre-weighted metering, and have also tried adding some exposure compensation.
This does help but I am not entirely happy with the results, the subject (bird) is still underexposed and requires work in post using 'shadows and highlights' to bring about some improvement, but it is hard to get a good result. Maybe that is the best that can be expected when the subject is in shade.
Maybe I'm not dialling in enough exposure compensation, I tend use about 2/3, or maybe 1 stop.
The next time I go out shooting I think I'll try spot metering to see how that affects the result.
I would be interested to hear any comments on this from experienced bird shooters who have had to cope with this issue.
For the record, I'm shooting with a K-3 II.

Cheers,
Terry

01-18-2016, 11:38 PM   #2
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It's generally easier to lift shadows than darken highlights, but I suppose you could continue with center-weighted metering and just add another half stop or so. You have to be careful with spot metering since even the smallest variation in brightness could lead to a different looking image.

Are you shooting in raw?

Adam
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01-19-2016, 01:32 AM   #3
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QuoteOriginally posted by Adam Quote
Are you shooting in raw?
Yes, I'm shooting in raw.

Cheers,
Terry
01-19-2016, 02:19 AM   #4
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Solution: meter for ambient light, then keep your shutter/speed and aperture fixed. I do this with a light meter and it works well, unless clouds are passing by, thus changing the ambient light significantly over a short period of time. You don't really need a light meter, you can take a test shot and adjust shutter speed, aperture or iso by the number of stops to correct for under exposure/overexposure, than keep this setting as long as ambient light is unchanged.

01-19-2016, 09:11 AM   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by biz-engineer Quote
Solution: meter for ambient light, then keep your shutter/speed and aperture fixed.
This works in a great many shooting situations! I shot my kid's high school marching band for two seasons, and got way better results just shooting for the light on the field (which didn't change) than letting the meter adjust for each shot.
01-19-2016, 09:17 AM   #6
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I don't see why spot metering isn't working for you. That should pretty much get you a good middle gray exposure for the EV value it is looking at. So you need to pay attention to if the "spot" is seeing a dark or light area. Of course dark feathers/things will push high values up more. You have to decide if that's acceptable for the scene. There is nothing wrong with "accent white" (out of gamut highlights ) in limited areas and quantity. Some people think it is a golden rule and you have failed as a photographer if you get out of gamut tones which is not true.

EV compensation should also work just fine too but can take a few shots looking at the histogram to converge on a good setting for your conditions. And if those conditions are changing or really variable between shots then I think I'd rather do spot metering. And add exposure bracketing to either of these modes will help you get a better exposure when you don't have time to look at histograms and need to shoot at a faster pace.

Metering for ambient is like the other two modes. Sometimes that will work and sometimes not. If the EV of the highlights is high and your subject is in shadow, you'll again be trying to pull up low values in the RAW editor.
01-19-2016, 11:56 AM   #7
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Whenever I don't have my incident light meter with me, I just bracket. I underexpose 1 stop, normal, overexpose 1 stop. Then at the end, I choose whichever one.
01-19-2016, 06:49 PM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by tuco Quote
I don't see why spot metering isn't working for you.
I may well work for me, I haven't tried it yet!
Thanks for your other comments.

Cheers,
Terry

01-20-2016, 04:28 AM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by tduell Quote
I may well work for me, I haven't tried it yet!
Thanks for your other comments.

Cheers,
Terry
When I use spot metering, I make sure to use the exposure lock function of my k-5ii. It allows me to meter at a certain spot, lock the exposure then recompose and shoot. Otherwise, as you recompose, the camera obviously will change exposure...!
01-20-2016, 09:05 AM   #10
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Center-weighted then lifting shadows in PP seems the best solution. The high contrast between branch/bird and sky will always be a problem, but these sensors record a lot of information which just needs to be lifted. It's better to slightly underexpose.

I usually use spot metering, but occasionally it can bite you in the butt.
01-20-2016, 11:07 AM   #11
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When using spot metering I consider what I'm eliminating from consideration rather than what I'm including.
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