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Gear Talk => EOS Bodies - For Stills => Topic started by: kdw75 on June 12, 2012, 02:50:35 PM

Title: Manual Mode Exposure Question...
Post by: kdw75 on June 12, 2012, 02:50:35 PM
I usually shoot in AP mode and set the ISO manually. During some of my daughters plays I have tried using manual with some success. I frequently use manual mode if I am going to have time to do a shoot, such as a portrait.

Reading on here I see that many say they use manual most of the time. For the ones who do this I am wondering how you go about getting the correct exposure in changing conditions. Such as a family event where some people are in the shade and others are inside or in direct sun. I can of course make it work, but doing so takes me 30 sec or so in some cases by which time the shot is no longer available. I always shoot in RAW so I guess I could just get close, but it seems like letting the camera set the exposure and then using EC when necessary is faster.
Title: Re: Manual Mode Exposure Question...
Post by: RLPhoto on June 12, 2012, 03:16:13 PM
 Im really good at guessing exposures from experience.
Title: Re: Manual Mode Exposure Question...
Post by: awinphoto on June 12, 2012, 03:55:44 PM
Not to sound flippant or anything, but practice...  usually i have my camera in spot meter mode, If i have green grass or some evenly lit mid tones, i may point my spot there and quickly set my camera realizing its averaging everything to 18% gray...  having it in spot pinpoints the area that it's averaging.  If i dont have a nice predictable midtone, i expose to the dark and compensate 2-3 stops depending on the degree of shadow and fill light... or visa versa for a white or light colored object.  Sometimes when i'm in a pinch with constant changing scenes, i may put the iso in auto...  Many wedding photogs use an expo disc...  fits over the lens, and quickly able to set the proper exposure and take a picture with it on, all of a sudden you have a custom white balance frame to use for your surrounding.  Once you get your base exposure, then you can compensate for how much or how little DOF you want, action or panning, etc... 
Title: Re: Manual Mode Exposure Question...
Post by: Kernuak on June 12, 2012, 04:55:41 PM
Pretty much the same. I find that by shooting manual constantly, you become much more aware of the light levels and provided you don't get distracted, you know instantly when you need to adjust. Also, the type of shooting that I do involves a lot of shooting in the same locations, so I knwo how different types of light affects the exposure, for example, I know how much to adjust if I set my exposure on the water or even the sky. That means I'm less reliant on looking for something that equates to 18% grey in the eyes of the exposure meter. If I shoot in a new location, it does take me a little longer to adjust, but I'm usually in the right ballpark.
Title: Re: Manual Mode Exposure Question...
Post by: JerryKnight on June 12, 2012, 04:56:23 PM
Not to sound flippant or anything, but practice...  usually i have my camera in spot meter mode, If i have green grass or some evenly lit mid tones, i may point my spot there and quickly set my camera realizing its averaging everything to 18% gray...  having it in spot pinpoints the area that it's averaging.  If i dont have a nice predictable midtone, i expose to the dark and compensate 2-3 stops depending on the degree of shadow and fill light... or visa versa for a white or light colored object.  Sometimes when i'm in a pinch with constant changing scenes, i may put the iso in auto...  Many wedding photogs use an expo disc...  fits over the lens, and quickly able to set the proper exposure and take a picture with it on, all of a sudden you have a custom white balance frame to use for your surrounding.  Once you get your base exposure, then you can compensate for how much or how little DOF you want, action or panning, etc...

Exactly this. Watch your meter, turn on your histograms, and practice, and you'll eventually be able to instinctually get "ballpark" accuracy with your exposures. From there, your histograms will guide you to the proper exposures.

I don't think there's anything wrong with Av/Tv modes, but I like knowing that I have full control over the exposure, rather than having the camera guess for me. The camera is usually pretty good at guessing the right exposure, but it's sometimes wrong. In those cases, I choose to rely on the manual settings, because I know it's backlit, I know the subject isn't perfect 18% gray, I know it's a mostly dark setting, etc.

The bottom line for me is that when the exposure is wrong, I know for sure what's to blame (ie. me).
Title: Re: Manual Mode Exposure Question...
Post by: briansquibb on June 12, 2012, 05:27:39 PM
I use auto iso in M mode
Title: Re: Manual Mode Exposure Question...
Post by: pwp on June 12, 2012, 06:27:55 PM
Reading on here I see that many say they use manual most of the time. For the ones who do this I am wondering how you go about getting the correct exposure in changing conditions.

You do what photographers have done for most of the history of photography. You keep an eye on the conditions and adjust settings accordingly, on the fly.  It becomes second nature very quickly, and in some ways maintains a creatively useful extra connection with your shooting environment.

Of course this century we thankfully have the instant  feedback of a screen image & a histogram. Shooting manual has really never been easier.

PW
Title: Re: Manual Mode Exposure Question...
Post by: wickidwombat on June 12, 2012, 06:46:06 PM
in the viewfinder is the little exposure scale (not trying to be condescending here) did you know about it and what it was?

so you set you aperture and iso then if you change the shutter speed with the top wheel while you look throught the viewfinder you will see a little green dot move along the scale when it is in the middle then that is what the camera considers correct exposure for the scene (note this is often not the exposure you actually want) so its very simple to move that dot up or down a stop or 2 to manual compensate exposure.
or you can just dial the aperture with the back wheel

consider now how you have to apply exposure compensation in AV mode you have to press the figging +/- button which you have to find first and if its dark use another light source to find it, then press it then dial in your +/- EC... bleh I nearly had seizure just thinking about it

once you get a handle on manual exposure and that little green bar in your viewfinder you will basically stop using AV you might use TV for certain things still with auto iso
Title: Re: Manual Mode Exposure Question...
Post by: jm345 on June 12, 2012, 06:54:44 PM
I use auto iso in M mode

+1
Title: Re: Manual Mode Exposure Question...
Post by: helpful on June 12, 2012, 07:09:03 PM
Such as a family event where some people are in the shade and others are inside or in direct sun.

I know exactly what you mean. That's really frustrating for me, too.

For me it's not so much the adjustment in brightness as it is the change in white balance. People look gray in the shade with either AWB+sunny background or Sunny pre-set white balance. If it's complete full shade, like the north side of a house, then that's four stops adjustment, for example, so the exposure side of things is simple.

Some people have special custom settings that they don't want to change. For me, I change them a lot, and that is what I use them for, for example:

* Sunny setting with low contrast (sun is very harsh), daylight WB, proper manual exposure
* Cloudy setting with cloudy white balance, medium contrast, proper manual exposure
* Shade setting with shade white balance, medium contrast, proper manual exposure

I'm adjusting these all the time to fit the situation--the only convenience is that when a fast moment happens I can turn the dial to change both the white balance and the exposure.

Watch out for sun spots on people's face/foreheads when taking pictures in partial shade, like under trees. Even in RAW those can blow out too far to correct, when giving the rest of the photo proper exposure. For one the thing forehead is kind of like snow (90% reflectivity rather than 15-20%), and for another thing the direct sun is four stops brighter than the shade. Combined together, it's way beyond the dynamic range unless you place the rest of the photo down deep in the dark and do a lot of post processing.

I had to give a customer twice as many enlargements to make them happy just because they cared about one tiny sunspot on a face; I thought the photo was beautiful and that the sparkly sunspots added to its attractiveness.

Moral of the story: don't have people face the sun if they might have sun spots on their faces, and if they are likely to be picky.

Sun halos are another story, when the border of their head is blown out. That's usually no problem with customers (unless you get one who cares about the color of their hair dye).

Title: Re: Manual Mode Exposure Question...
Post by: DB on June 12, 2012, 07:28:23 PM
GOOGLE the following term: "Photographic Triangle", then read a few of these tips, then experiment in M mode. My regimen is as follows:

(1) set WB (I have a small collapsible Lastolite 18% mid-tonal grey card) for appropriate environment based on available ambient lighting
(2) set the ISO setting based on inside/outside, sunny or cloudy, shade etc. (like Brian sometimes I use AUTO), but try to get as low as possible (aim for 100 outdoors, 400 indoors)
(3) select the preferred aperture setting (DoF) depending on what I'm shooting (starting with f5.6 to f8 range is a good place to learn)
(4) then choose the right shutter speed for correct exposure (if < 1/60s handheld then revisit ISO setting i.e. bump it up)

Just practice these 4 steps or whatever works for you and you will improve very quickly.
Title: Re: Manual Mode Exposure Question...
Post by: briansquibb on June 13, 2012, 01:42:15 AM
I am doing an outdoor shooting this morning. I will be in manual, 1/300, iso50, f/2 - f/4

Just use the sun as 1 of the light sources, not the only source.

Overpowering the sun means less light/contrast/blownout whites in the bg

Title: Re: Manual Mode Exposure Question...
Post by: wickidwombat on June 13, 2012, 01:45:02 AM
I am doing an outdoor shooting this morning. I will be in manual, 1/300, iso50, f/2 - f/4

Just use the sun as 1 of the light sources, not the only source.

Overpowering the sun means less light/contrast/blownout whites in the bg

yeah but you only have pretend sun over there anyway so its not hard to overpower :P
Title: Re: Manual Mode Exposure Question...
Post by: briansquibb on June 13, 2012, 01:57:03 AM
I am doing an outdoor shooting this morning. I will be in manual, 1/300, iso50, f/2 - f/4

Just use the sun as 1 of the light sources, not the only source.

Overpowering the sun means less light/contrast/blownout whites in the bg

yeah but you only have pretend sun over there anyway so its not hard to overpower :P

 ;D ;D ;D

Just buy more flash  ;)

This morning will be two lightstands, one with 3x 580 and the other for infill/head light with a 580, plus of course the sun (at nearly its brightest for us)
Title: Re: Manual Mode Exposure Question...
Post by: AdamJ on June 13, 2012, 03:42:33 AM
...it seems like letting the camera set the exposure and then using EC when necessary is faster.

I agree, which is why most of my shooting is in AP mode using EC and/or spot metering as appropriate. Manual is fine if I'm taking my time over a shot like a landscape, or in conditions with unchanging light, but I don't see any point in using manual when another mode will get the same result faster and more reliably.

Embrace technology - don't buy the 'auto is for wimps' kind of attitude. One day, someone will come along and say even manual is for wimps and that bulb mode, using the lens cap for exposure, is the only way for a true professional.  ;)
Title: Re: Manual Mode Exposure Question...
Post by: rpt on June 13, 2012, 04:31:30 AM
I am doing an outdoor shooting this morning. I will be in manual, 1/300, iso50, f/2 - f/4

Just use the sun as 1 of the light sources, not the only source.

Overpowering the sun means less light/contrast/blownout whites in the bg

yeah but you only have pretend sun over there anyway so its not hard to overpower :P

Lol

Show off!
Title: Re: Manual Mode Exposure Question...
Post by: AdamJ on June 13, 2012, 09:29:19 AM
I am doing an outdoor shooting this morning. I will be in manual, 1/300, iso50, f/2 - f/4

Just use the sun as 1 of the light sources, not the only source.

Overpowering the sun means less light/contrast/blownout whites in the bg

yeah but you only have pretend sun over there anyway so its not hard to overpower :P

Lol

Show off!

We've had a glorious summer here in England.

It was in 1976.
Title: Re: Manual Mode Exposure Question...
Post by: rpt on June 13, 2012, 11:26:37 AM
I am doing an outdoor shooting this morning. I will be in manual, 1/300, iso50, f/2 - f/4

Just use the sun as 1 of the light sources, not the only source.

Overpowering the sun means less light/contrast/blownout whites in the bg

yeah but you only have pretend sun over there anyway so its not hard to overpower :P

Lol

Show off!

We've had a glorious summer here in England.

It was in 1976.

Ha ha ha!

The sun is the reason I choose to stay in India - besides, there is no need of a weather channel!

:)
Title: Re: Manual Mode Exposure Question...
Post by: JerryKnight on June 13, 2012, 03:45:47 PM
...it seems like letting the camera set the exposure and then using EC when necessary is faster.

I agree, which is why most of my shooting is in AP mode using EC and/or spot metering as appropriate. Manual is fine if I'm taking my time over a shot like a landscape, or in conditions with unchanging light, but I don't see any point in using manual when another mode will get the same result faster and more reliably.

Embrace technology - don't buy the 'auto is for wimps' kind of attitude. One day, someone will come along and say even manual is for wimps and that bulb mode, using the lens cap for exposure, is the only way for a true professional.  ;)

You and I (and many other photographers on both sides) have very different ideas of what "reliable" means. And this is perfectly fine - that's why both types of modes exist.

The settings that the camera guesses on can change wildly, depending on where exactly you're metering. Your shots will not always be consistent. If you're using evaluative metering, changes in things like the background can have dramatic effect on your exposures. If you're using spot metering, changing where you're metering even slightly can also dramatically effect what the camera thinks is "right".

I guess my main point is that the camera does not have an intuitive sense of what I'm photographing. It can only guess, and allowing it to guess gives it the opportunity to guess wrong. Will I guess wrong too? Absolutely, but it trains me to keep an eye on the histogram and adjust. Exposure will never be something that you should "fire and forget" unless you're taking snapshots. (Again, this is my thinking, not what everyone should think.)

Your bulb mode comment is amusing, but entirely misses the point. The camera is good at precisely exposing the sensor for a specific time with a specific aperture. Nobody disputes this. What is disputed is whether the camera can automatically expose every frame properly. Some people think it can, and they use Av/Tv. Some people don't trust it completely, and they use Manual. Nothing wrong with either.
Title: Re: Manual Mode Exposure Question...
Post by: AdamJ on June 13, 2012, 06:25:23 PM
You and I (and many other photographers on both sides) have very different ideas of what "reliable" means. And this is perfectly fine - that's why both types of modes exist.

The settings that the camera guesses on can change wildly, depending on where exactly you're metering. Your shots will not always be consistent. If you're using evaluative metering, changes in things like the background can have dramatic effect on your exposures. If you're using spot metering, changing where you're metering even slightly can also dramatically effect what the camera thinks is "right".

I guess my main point is that the camera does not have an intuitive sense of what I'm photographing. It can only guess, and allowing it to guess gives it the opportunity to guess wrong. Will I guess wrong too? Absolutely, but it trains me to keep an eye on the histogram and adjust. Exposure will never be something that you should "fire and forget" unless you're taking snapshots. (Again, this is my thinking, not what everyone should think.)

Your bulb mode comment is amusing, but entirely misses the point. The camera is good at precisely exposing the sensor for a specific time with a specific aperture. Nobody disputes this. What is disputed is whether the camera can automatically expose every frame properly. Some people think it can, and they use Av/Tv. Some people don't trust it completely, and they use Manual. Nothing wrong with either.

The question the OP was asking was, why should he take 30 seconds setting exposure manually when in the majority of situations, AP is working for him. My contention is simply that there's nothing wrong with using AP, or SP for that matter, in that majority of situations where it gives the same settings as he would have selected in manual mode anyway. In other words, don't assume you're doing something wrong by using AP or SP, just because other people say they always use manual. Using AP doesn't necessarily equate to fire-and-forget exposure, or to snapshots. As the OP said, you still have EC, spot, etc. to adjust for specific lighting scenarios.

What metering technology can't do, of course, is to second-guess anyone's intention to expose for creativity rather than for an evenly spread histogram, so thank goodness for manual mode. I'm not against manual mode, I just find manual-mode evangelists a little irksome. I'm not suggesting you or anyone else here is in that camp (your views seem balanced and were well put) but there's no doubt they exist. My photography tutor was one - I remember how he cursed when I replaced my manual Yashica with a Contax 139.  :-\

Title: Re: Manual Mode Exposure Question...
Post by: bleedo on June 16, 2012, 11:54:01 PM
I learned to shoot in manual and can't imagine shooting (for the most part) any other way. For me, the enjoyment of shooting involves the challenge...I do a lot of event work and definitely have to adjust quickly. Do I nail every single shot? No, but I've learned from my mistakes and don't miss much anymore. As others have stated, with practice the speed will come. The ten inches behind the camera are the most important part of the camera...