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Best way to expose for highlights?

Discussion in 'Olympus Cameras' started by nathan_h, Jul 22, 2013.

  1. nathan_h

    nathan_h Mu-43 Regular

    180
    Jan 23, 2013
    I find in my shooting, mostly outdoors in nature, with strong sunshine, I get the best exposures when I adjust to the point just before the blown highlights warning flashes on picture review after the shot is taken.

    I hate blown out highlights and I don't mind some areas sinking into darkness if that prevents blown highlights, except for something like where the sun is actually in a shot.

    I tried searching the forums and found lots of topics about ETTR. I suppose that I sort of what I am doing with this method, though typically the tonal range I am shooting exceeds the sensor anyway.

    I realize there is a spot metering setting where I can spot meter the brightest spot and the camera sets the exposure to top out there.

    I would love to find a setting that shoots like I do manually--meter the whole scene and compensate down until the highlights in the scene are not blown.

    I'm 99% sure there is no such setting.

    But I suspect I'm not the only person that shoots this way and would guess that smarter people than me have figured out some clever tricks.

    Note that I don't use the histogram, maybe just because I find the flashing warning on blown out areas to be easier to read and respond to quickly.

    (Fyi this is on an OM-D.)

    How do you do it?
     
  2. brettmaxwell

    brettmaxwell Mu-43 Veteran

    350
    Dec 8, 2012
    what you describe is something I've wanted also, but the OMD doesn't do it, and the only cameras I've encountered that can do it are some Canons with custom/hacked firmware, I forget if it was CHDK or MagicLantern.
     
  3. htc

    htc Mu-43 Top Veteran

    579
    Jan 11, 2011
    Finland
    Harry
    I just use the exposure correction until something that still matters blinks. But histogram is great help. You should use it too.
     
  4. heli-mech

    heli-mech Mu-43 Top Veteran

    959
    Mar 9, 2012
    Vancouver Island, Canada
    Andrew
    This is what I followed, by setting up the OM-D properly you get a more accurate reading of how far you can push the highlights.

    pekkapotka - Journal
     
  5. twokatmew

    twokatmew Mu-43 All-Pro

    Jun 1, 2012
    Lansing, MI, US
    Margaret
    +1

    Sent from my SCH-I535 using Tapatalk 4 Beta
     
  6. entropicremnants

    entropicremnants Mu-43 All-Pro

    Jul 16, 2012
    John Griggs
    And another +1. It's the one feature of the E-M5 I truly miss. It's great.

    I've gotten good with the histogram but I like the highlighting much better.
     
  7. nathan_h

    nathan_h Mu-43 Regular

    180
    Jan 23, 2013
    Absolutely. That is a great manual method, and I use it too (mostly the blinking and sometimes the histogram but I can usually get what I need just from the blinking).

    I'm thinking it would ideally be something that could be automated.

    I basically just want a setting where the camera adjusts the exposure until NOTHING blinks. This is the setting I would usually use, unless I know I want something blown out, like the sun in the photo, or some bright reflections.

    In other words: I would love to not need to adjust it manually, but have an auto setting where instead of exposure being 18% gray-based (or whatever it is, I realize it's smarter -- probably -- than that these days) would just follow one simple rule:

    Dial down exposure (or dial it up) until just before blown highlights blink. And if I am in A, or S, it would dial down (or up) the other variables, of course.
     
  8. entropicremnants

    entropicremnants Mu-43 All-Pro

    Jul 16, 2012
    John Griggs
    Adjusting until NOTHING bliinks is NOT exposing to the right. In fact, with Pekka's method, the level is set slightly lower than max so if you get it so nothing blinks you are underexposing.

    In RAW, you actually have more lattitude than the blinking suggests. The whole idea is to have the most extreme highlights blinking and then use your judgement and experience as you use the method to tune your perception of how much can blink.

    This is how you minimize noise, not by forcing the highlights too low.

    Automation only knows what is bright or not -- it knows NOTHING about what is IMPORTANT in the photo. If you want to become good at ETTR you need to use judgement your camera will never be able to bring. It doesn't understand your subject or what you're trying to do.
     
  9. nathan_h

    nathan_h Mu-43 Regular

    180
    Jan 23, 2013
    Yeah, that's a good setup, for sure. Still, I'd like to be lazy (ie, speedier) and have the camera use the data for adjustment, instead of me, sometimes.
     
  10. nathan_h

    nathan_h Mu-43 Regular

    180
    Jan 23, 2013
    Excellent point. I agree 100%. Which is why ETTR is not what I am looking to automate. I mentioned ETTR since it seems like the only context in which paying attention to blown highlights is discussed with much regularity.

    I just want to automate what I find gives me the results I am after in 90% of my shots -- exposing the highlights to just below the level of "blinking" (as a rough proxy for blowing out the highlights). In these cases, I'm much more unhappy about blown highlights than about noise in the darker areas. I can mask noise (darken it, denoise it, etc) but I can never bring back those clouds that are lost because they were three stops too light to be saved via Lightroom processing of the RAW photo.

    Then, for the other ten percent of the shots, I don't mind dropping back into manual mode and adjust, since there may be highlights I'm okay with blowing out, or other factors which require more of a judgment call than my automated scenario would capture correctly.

    --

    To clarify: I'm NOT suggesting that shooting this way is what people using ETTR would want to do, nor that it works for others' shooting styles and goals. I'm just saying I find this useful, and since there are so many interesting ways to adjust the OMD, I was hoping someone else might have found a way to essentially automate this kind of exposure setting.
     
  11. Mercurio

    Mercurio Mu-43 Veteran

    253
    Jul 17, 2012
    Bogotá, Colombia
    Mauricio
    In the old days, when I used to shot with my OM-4, it was really very easy to choose exactly the exposure I wanted for my images with the multiple averaged spot metering: it was really a wonderful feature of the 80´s Olympus cameras. Why is it not possible to have the same feature with a digital camera? Am I missing something?
     
  12. htc

    htc Mu-43 Top Veteran

    579
    Jan 11, 2011
    Finland
    Harry
    I didn't have the patience to read Pekka's whole story, so I have to ask:

    If you exposure with Pekka's method, is it the same with jpeg and raw or do you have to use different exposure when raw and different with jpeg?

    I'm asking because I have been using "leaning to the right" -method :biggrin: for ages for jpegs and raw only for backup, when challenging situation.
     
  13. entropicremnants

    entropicremnants Mu-43 All-Pro

    Jul 16, 2012
    John Griggs
    Ah, I see -- I completely misunderstood you. That clarifies it then. I don't have an answer for what you're trying to do but for people like you it would be a "feature" that could be added I'm sure. I don't know anyway to automate it with the cameras as they are though.

     
  14. entropicremnants

    entropicremnants Mu-43 All-Pro

    Jul 16, 2012
    John Griggs
    I would recommend girding your loins and buckling down to read the whole article. There's no substitute for full information, lol.

    BUT I'll help a brother out: it works poorly for JPG's. Pekka's method will produce "cooked" JPG's with an overexposed look that won't tune nicely in post. Look at his examples and you'll see what I mean. The unedited RAW's all look hyper bright. He even mentions it's not for JPG's -- but you didn't read that, did you?... :rolleyes:

    Seriously: you should develop a little scholarly approach when a clearly important article like Pekka's is written. Trying to skim and guess just doesn't work very well for something like this.
     
  15. nathan_h

    nathan_h Mu-43 Regular

    180
    Jan 23, 2013
    Far be in from me to tell you what to do, and I know RAW can be a hassle and take more space, but here's my story:

    I shot sometimes RAW, sometimes JPEG, for many years. And I am kicking myself for the trips where I shot JPEG instead of RAW even though it seemed perfectly adequate at the time. As I got better at PP, shots I thought were lost to history were actually quite workable -- unless they were shot as JPEG.
     
  16. htc

    htc Mu-43 Top Veteran

    579
    Jan 11, 2011
    Finland
    Harry
    It's challenging to keep your artistic and creative mindset on the top and still keep in mind all those... :biggrin:

    I made a confession already, didn't read it second time to actually understand it :redface:

    But seriously, when things get tough, I use RAW and lightroom AND after that Photoshop which I know better. My aim though is to use only jpeg because it's time saving and in most cases gives the same result.

    I completelly understand using Pekka's method when making/capturing something unique and I have been in Pekka's auditorium several times listen to him, but nevertheless I want it to be as simple as possible.

    It would be nice to compare these two worlds side by side. To actually see yourself what you can achieve using that method in real life. Is it something significant? Worth of all that hassle?
     
  17. htc

    htc Mu-43 Top Veteran

    579
    Jan 11, 2011
    Finland
    Harry
    I guess I have to. Okay, I promise :smile:
     
  18. htc

    htc Mu-43 Top Veteran

    579
    Jan 11, 2011
    Finland
    Harry
    So if I'm going to tweak my camera settings according to the ETTR, how it's going to affect my jpegs? In other words is it only RAW after that?
     
  19. nathan_h

    nathan_h Mu-43 Regular

    180
    Jan 23, 2013
    If you tweak your camera settings AND you follow the exposure guidelines for ETTR in guide, many shots in JPG will look like those in the article -- far too overexposed.

    But if you shoot in RAW, you will be able to post process the RAW, and get a final JPG with better dynamic range and less noise than if you had shot JPG in the camera, in many situations.
     
  20. graben

    graben Mu-43 Regular

    88
    May 2, 2013
    Chicago, Illinois
    This is what I use too. Works perfectly!

    Sent from my HTL21 using Tapatalk 2