Compensating For Light And Dark Scenes

Photography - 101 Understanding Exposure
6 minutes
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In this video, I want to talk about what to do to compensate for scenes that are naturally bright or scenes that are naturally dark. When we approach a scene that's naturally bright or naturally dark, the cameras gonna give us kind of strange readings. And here's what I mean. If you're at the beach, let's say you're shooting, it's a bright day, you have bright sand, you have bright skies, you have a couple that's dressed in lighter attire, everything about the scene is very, very bright. Now, when the camera sees this, the cameras not really going to understand and remember internally in the camera, basically every scene on average is going to equal this gray or this 18% gray color. What that simply means you don't need to memorize 18% gray, it just means that on average, cameras are programmed to think that well, if we average all the bright areas and we average all the dark areas, we kind of come out with this middle gray ish in our scene.

If your scene is naturally brighter than that the camera is going to tell you that the scene is overexposed. If the scene is naturally darker than that, it'll tell you that it's underexposed, and if you let the camera expose for you, well again, back to our beach analogy. If we let the camera Cameras run the exposure what we end up with is an underexposed scene, because the camera is going to tell you that it's basically overexposed, you're going to compensate for it or if you allow the camera to compensate for it by itself, it's going to bring all that bright tone down. In reality, all we need to do is we need to expose for that naturally bright scene, so it looks bright in the camera as well. This may be one stop or two stops overexposed. So long as you're not blowing out all of your detail, you're totally fine.

On the flip side, you can have a naturally dark scene and a natural dark scene could really be anything. It could be a scene like the one we're about to shoot or it could be just we'll say, for example, that you're shooting a groom or someone in their suit in a dark suit, if that's all you're getting in your composition. Everything is naturally black with the exception of their skin tones. So what the camera goes is that compares it to that 18% gray value and it says Well, this is too dark. I'm going to try and brighten it up. So either you adjust based on the cameras meter and you brighten it yourself or the camera again, if you're allowing the camera to adjust the exposure for you.

It's going to brighten it up and then that black tone which should be black and it should be dark ends up being more like a gray color and everything ends up being overexposed. So these are the situations where basically your camera really isn't going to understand what's going on and you need to outsmart the camera, we are losing light quick, so we need to set the shot. Now what I'm going to go for in the composition is I'm going to get low, I'm going to shoot with the road line and you can see that there's a little highlight right on the center of the road. Once the sun moves out of position, we lose that what I'm going to do is place them right on that highlight, we're going to get low shoot with the leading line that goes into our couple and we're get this entire scene in the frame.

I'm also going to get low so that we can place the couple against the strong highlight in the background. That way the brightest areas of image is where the couple is is going to draw attention right to that point. We're gonna go ahead and get started guys, why don't you step on in Okay, what I want guys is you guys to turn into each other so fully close up. There you go. And then that's perfect just like that. And then I'm going to have you drop your toe a little bit Christine on your front.

There you go. So we get a little poll on the dress that looks beautiful. Alright guys stay like that looking at each other. Okay, now in a scene like this. We are shooting in a Dark scene I mean don't be surprised if this scene is gonna be one stop underexposed because or even two stops underexposed because I'm exposing for these highlights. I want to just get the catch lights on the tree.

And so this is exactly what we're talking about. Okay, hold the phone by saying that the scene is rather dark. But to us in the video, it looks a little bit on the brighter side, doesn't it? So what is he talking about? Well, it's simple. At this point, you've learned about how you can expose for highlights versus shadows.

Right. So what you see on the video is that the camera is exposed for pi skin which is actually in the shadows. So the scene looks pretty bright because the video is exposing for shadows. But in reality, the scene is actually pretty dark because most of the scene consists of shadows from the trees and the leaves were just spots of light coming through it. Now pi placed the couple in a bright area of highlight, and he's going to expose for that highlight area to get the proper exposure and with that exposure You'll see just how dark the seed actually is to the camera because most of the trees are going to be in the very deep shadows. So the camera takes a scene like that and they said it's quite dark but the final results, it's all going to depend on how you choose to expose it.

And seems like this you need to know what you're looking for. And I do want the trees I do want everything to be dark except for these highlight areas. So kind of outsmart the meter in these types of situations. Because this is a dark scene, we wanted to have that appearance except for the strong highlights coming through which are going to draw our attention now I'm going to go ahead and get low. Right about here. Let's go ahead and bring in there we go.

Okay. Okay, guys pull each other in tight. Okay, so we've got a gorgeous in here, guys. The backlight is absolutely amazing. Everything looks awesome. Our models are awesome.

So I'm going to take this opportunity to get a few more shots on different lenses. Just a quick reminder, be sure to watch that bonus chapter content because in that area, you get to focus on how pi shoots and interacts with his subjects, communication, posing interacting with your subjects. They're just as important if not more important than all of this technical mumbo jumbo Peace out. So when you approach a scene, I want you to think to yourself, if the scene is bright, and it's supposed to be bright, then realize that before you take the shot, because the camera is going to give you a meter reading that basically shows that it's overexposed, when in reality, it's just a bright scene. Same thing, it was just a dark scene if the meter is underexposed, but it is a dark scene to begin with. Well, don't worry about that.

In these kind of cases, we really want to just kind of outsmart the meter understand that we're shooting either an overly bright or overly dark scene and that's totally fine. That's it for this video, and I'll see you all in the next one.

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