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Author Topic: Blinkies, highlight alert and ETTR How to?  (Read 2572 times)

Valvebounce

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Blinkies, highlight alert and ETTR How to?
« on: August 16, 2013, 07:57:14 PM »
Hi Folks. Camera is a 7D
I get the idea of the blinkies, to prevent blown highlights, and I think I get the reasoning for ETTR. Please correct me if I am wrong, slightly overexposing enables detail in shadow to be seen and it is easier to pull detail back from highlights than shadow without adding noise to the shadow?

My question concerns how to achieve some sort of balance, I like to take landscape and seascape pictures among others.
Others are generally Motorsport and BIF, both natural and man made!
What I am finding is that the blinkies are going before I ETTR, some times it will take around 1 stop to the left to reduce the blinkies to just a very few very bright highlights, then of course the shadows increase.

What am I doing wrong,

1 Using the highlight alert in the first place?  ::)
2 Metering mode, I have tried centre weighted and evaluative. Partial and spot seemed wrong by definition!
3 Not doing HDR. Would this even work with motion of the sea, clouds, boats and birds?
4 Other, please elaborate.

I know someone out there can help, and any and all help will be gratefully received.

Cheers Graham.
7D Gripped, 40D Gripped*, *20D, 300D Saved a holiday now retired, *E-FS 17-85, E-FS 18-55 Kit lenses, Cosina 100-300, Sigma 150-500, Sigma 17-70 2.8-4 C, *50mm f1.8, 550EX some filters remotes tripod heads etc!
Still can't use most of it to its full potential! ;)  *=Purchased Used

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Blinkies, highlight alert and ETTR How to?
« on: August 16, 2013, 07:57:14 PM »

Jim Saunders

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Re: Blinkies, highlight alert and ETTR How to?
« Reply #1 on: August 16, 2013, 08:25:07 PM »
I'd consider each image; If you're inside and you have overhead lights in the frame for example, you'll have no choice but to have them entirely over-exposed.  I guess it boils down to exposing for the relevant parts of your image, and giving up a bit of the shadows and the really bright spots for good information on the parts you want.

In my comparatively trivial experience I've found spot metering handy for very high-contrast situations, brightly lit concerts for instance.  I'm at the point on the learning curve where Av and Tv are still useful but I've taken to manual mode where I have the time to use it; It is good practice for shooting scenes where the light level changes rapidly, fireworks for example.

Jim
I'd probably do better to invest more time and less money.

Valvebounce

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Re: Blinkies, highlight alert and ETTR How to?
« Reply #2 on: August 17, 2013, 05:25:35 AM »
Hi Jim
I did wonder if I should just be considering the main subject and not worry too much once that is correctly exposed.
I too am just getting back in to manual modes! By that I mean I learnt photography on a Practica manual camera and missed so many shots and spoilt so much film that I couldn't wait for my first fully automatic SLR!  ::)

I used full manual for the first time in a long time for fireworkslast week, also used spot metering, seemed intuitive as fireworks are a small spot in a dark sky, still had some blown highlights, like the bright flash that leaves spots on my eyes!  ;D

Thanks for your quick response.

Cheers Graham.
7D Gripped, 40D Gripped*, *20D, 300D Saved a holiday now retired, *E-FS 17-85, E-FS 18-55 Kit lenses, Cosina 100-300, Sigma 150-500, Sigma 17-70 2.8-4 C, *50mm f1.8, 550EX some filters remotes tripod heads etc!
Still can't use most of it to its full potential! ;)  *=Purchased Used

mrsfotografie

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Re: Blinkies, highlight alert and ETTR How to?
« Reply #3 on: August 17, 2013, 05:38:45 AM »
I'm at the point on the learning curve where Av and Tv are still useful but I've taken to manual mode where I have the time to use it; It is good practice for shooting scenes where the light level changes rapidly, fireworks for example.


Since the OP mentioned motorsports, I would like to add that for motorsports particularly, shooting manual is very benificial. It's almost impossible to get the exposure correct for white/light and black/dark cars and motorcycles that follow in quick succession if you don't shoot manual!

As for highlight alert, do what seems reasonable. Car bodies in bright light will almost always have burnt-out highlights because they're shiny. Shoot and review your shots with the highlight alert on, and check out the shape of the histogram. The best shots usually have an even spread across the histogram, and therefore use the maximum dynamic range to get out all the details. Ie if the histogram is bunched up to one side you're over-or under exposing. So if you're getting an even spread, a little clipping is OK.

EDIT: For what it's worth, I've shot this image (and the entire series of the day in fact) in horrible backlight, so I had to resort to using a circular polarizing filter to cut back the reflections.

« Last Edit: August 17, 2013, 05:50:04 AM by mrsfotografie »
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Marsu42

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Re: Blinkies, highlight alert and ETTR How to?
« Reply #4 on: August 21, 2013, 06:45:28 AM »
What I am finding is that the blinkies are going before I ETTR, some times it will take around 1 stop to the left to reduce the blinkies to just a very few very bright highlights, then of course the shadows increase. What am I doing wrong,

You aren't doing anything wrong, there is no optimal way to deal with the sensor's limited dynamic range other than bracketing/hdr...

... BUT there is a "best possible" solution for you (apart from buying a Nikon dslr):

1. use Magic Lantern and the auto-ettr feature, it lets you specify exactly how much % may be cut on the right and then it auto-exposes accordingly, minimizing shadow noise. It works by analyzing the *raw* histogram which you cannot do on site with the Canon fw because their histogram is only calibrated for jpeg and you never know how many highlights you can recover in post.

2. Use Magic Lantern's new dual iso module which has less resolution, but increases the dynamic range significantly.

Btw: Even with motion you can do hdr and then blend out the blurred parts in ps, but keeping the increased dynamic range in the static parts, but of course this only practical for select shots.

Valvebounce

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Re: Blinkies, highlight alert and ETTR How to?
« Reply #5 on: August 22, 2013, 04:01:19 AM »
Hi Marsu.
I keep looking at ML and wondering about using it, I have the how to Wiki open as a tab on my browser and keep reading it. I like the idea of audio adjustable on the fly, and some of the other functions look interesting. There is however a high level of apprehension with regard to the level of complexity, so many things to mess with, and last I looked it won't auto load on a 7D, still in alpha, long warning about my responsibility if the camera fries, I get they can't buy me a new one but neither can I  :) and the standard firmware doesn't have this level of risk. That comes down to me and clumsy and is more likely to be insured!

Not sure I want to try to clean up waves in HDR! :o I guess I should have a look as the bracketed shots taken oh hi rate may be so similar as to not cause problems?

Thanks for the interest in my query folks.

Cheers Graham.

What I am finding is that the blinkies are going before I ETTR, some times it will take around 1 stop to the left to reduce the blinkies to just a very few very bright highlights, then of course the shadows increase. What am I doing wrong,

You aren't doing anything wrong, there is no optimal way to deal with the sensor's limited dynamic range other than bracketing/hdr...

... BUT there is a "best possible" solution for you (apart from buying a Nikon dslr):

1. use Magic Lantern and the auto-ettr feature, it lets you specify exactly how much % may be cut on the right and then it auto-exposes accordingly, minimizing shadow noise. It works by analyzing the *raw* histogram which you cannot do on site with the Canon fw because their histogram is only calibrated for jpeg and you never know how many highlights you can recover in post.

2. Use Magic Lantern's new dual iso module which has less resolution, but increases the dynamic range significantly.

Btw: Even with motion you can do hdr and then blend out the blurred parts in ps, but keeping the increased dynamic range in the static parts, but of course this only practical for select shots.
7D Gripped, 40D Gripped*, *20D, 300D Saved a holiday now retired, *E-FS 17-85, E-FS 18-55 Kit lenses, Cosina 100-300, Sigma 150-500, Sigma 17-70 2.8-4 C, *50mm f1.8, 550EX some filters remotes tripod heads etc!
Still can't use most of it to its full potential! ;)  *=Purchased Used

Marsu42

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Re: Blinkies, highlight alert and ETTR How to?
« Reply #6 on: August 22, 2013, 04:13:57 AM »
Not sure I want to try to clean up waves in HDR! :o I guess I should have a look as the bracketed shots taken oh hi rate may be so similar as to not cause problems?

In nature, everything moves, a lot of it recognizable10fps - I was suggesting hdr'ing the rather static sky and blending in the waves from one shot. As for ml: It's really stable nowadays, the "alpha" tag originates in the fact that not *every* feature is ported to the 7d yet, I've been using ml for 2.5 years on my 60d and can only say this is my reason for staying with Canon - you should really try it, esp. since the 7d has the dual iso module for increased dynamic range.

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Re: Blinkies, highlight alert and ETTR How to?
« Reply #6 on: August 22, 2013, 04:13:57 AM »

Valvebounce

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Re: Blinkies, highlight alert and ETTR How to?
« Reply #7 on: August 22, 2013, 07:50:49 PM »
Hi Marsu
I guess I just gave away that I'm not familiar with HDR techniques, I didn't realise that one could use sections of a picture. I was under the impression that you fed some software 3 or more pics and it spat out a blend of all three!  ::)
No idea what software one would choose.

Holding nose and cheeks bloated from a held breath I think I'm going in at the deep end and try ML.
Thanks for the nudge over the edge!   :o

Cheers Graham.

Not sure I want to try to clean up waves in HDR! :o I guess I should have a look as the bracketed shots taken oh hi rate may be so similar as to not cause problems?

In nature, everything moves, a lot of it recognizable10fps - I was suggesting hdr'ing the rather static sky and blending in the waves from one shot. As for ml: It's really stable nowadays, the "alpha" tag originates in the fact that not *every* feature is ported to the 7d yet, I've been using ml for 2.5 years on my 60d and can only say this is my reason for staying with Canon - you should really try it, esp. since the 7d has the dual iso module for increased dynamic range.
7D Gripped, 40D Gripped*, *20D, 300D Saved a holiday now retired, *E-FS 17-85, E-FS 18-55 Kit lenses, Cosina 100-300, Sigma 150-500, Sigma 17-70 2.8-4 C, *50mm f1.8, 550EX some filters remotes tripod heads etc!
Still can't use most of it to its full potential! ;)  *=Purchased Used

Marsu42

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Re: Blinkies, highlight alert and ETTR How to?
« Reply #8 on: August 23, 2013, 05:01:21 AM »
I guess I just gave away that I'm not familiar with HDR techniques, I didn't realise that one could use sections of a picture. I was under the impression that you fed some software 3 or more pics and it spat out a blend of all three!  ::)  No idea what software one would choose.

You can either use Photomatrix which has a built-in brush for this, or just do a hdr with any program like Picturenaut (which is not only free but better than Photomatrix anyway) and then blend parts of the hdr with the original image in Photoshop or the like.

traveller

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Re: Blinkies, highlight alert and ETTR How to?
« Reply #9 on: August 23, 2013, 08:42:10 AM »
In my experience:

1.   ETTR (expose to the right) only works if you’re shooting RAW; once the highlights are blown in a jpeg, they are gone forever.
2.   Experience is your guide –work out how much you can push your histogram to the right before your RAW converter cannot pull back the highlights.
3.   As the cameras histogram & blinkies are based upon the jpeg that is embedded in your RAW files, make sure that your jpeg setting in your “Picture Styles” menu is set to “Neutral”. A higher contrast setting, like “Landscape” will bias your histogram (the highlight will seem to blow earlier).
4.   As always, it is important to think about the exposure that the meter is reading: is it being biased by large expanses of water, sand, snow (leading to underexposure) or by large areas of dark foliage, deep shadows (leading to overexposure).
5.   Beware of your active AF point; I find that Canon cameras tend to bias their exposure quite heavily to what is under the active AF point. This is great for family snapshots, as it means that Great Aunt Audrey’s face is properly exposed, but a PITA for action photographers where the subject suddenly appears under the AF point after you think you’ve got the exposure nailed!

The last two points apply no matter what your metering intention is, but they can catch you out more if you’re trying to ETTR. I find that it is generally better to go a bit safe (especially in good light) with action shots as half a stop’s noise can be dealt with, whereas totally blown highlights are irrecoverable. Of course, if the light is really poor, you may have to sacrifice the highlights to properly expose the subject.

P.S. Canon have given me a whole sub-menu full of AF options; why can’t they give me one more metering option with a sliding scale (like the AF options) with “Bias to active AF point” on one side and “Average entire scene” on the other? In fact, whilst I’m on this subject, why not have an option where the camera will ETTR itself by analysing the channel data coming off the sensor and ending the exposure before the last colour clips?

Valvebounce

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Re: Blinkies, highlight alert and ETTR How to?
« Reply #10 on: August 24, 2013, 02:46:13 PM »
Hi Traveller,
Thanks for the input, I am experimenting with raw and have tried the metering all ways now, I didn't realise that they biased metering towards the active focus point on the lesser cameras, I have not found it mentioned in the menu that it does this though that doesn't mean they don't do it on the sly to improve the image!

Cheers Graham.
7D Gripped, 40D Gripped*, *20D, 300D Saved a holiday now retired, *E-FS 17-85, E-FS 18-55 Kit lenses, Cosina 100-300, Sigma 150-500, Sigma 17-70 2.8-4 C, *50mm f1.8, 550EX some filters remotes tripod heads etc!
Still can't use most of it to its full potential! ;)  *=Purchased Used

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Re: Blinkies, highlight alert and ETTR How to?
« Reply #10 on: August 24, 2013, 02:46:13 PM »