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Using an exposure strategy

From: Shooting with the Nikon D800

Video: Using an exposure strategy

So I found the shot here that I want to take. What caught my eye was just simple geometry. I like the black triangle created by the trees with this path coming out of it. So I have got a strong compositional idea there, but I have also got an interesting dynamic range situation here. The shadow is very black. The path can be very light. I need to decide how I want to handle that. Do I want the shadows to go into complete blackness? Do I want some detail back there? What's the relationship I want between those two different tonal areas? That might lead me to think, do I want to do this in black and white or color? To be honest, I am not being struck by any particular idea right now.

Using an exposure strategy

So I found the shot here that I want to take. What caught my eye was just simple geometry. I like the black triangle created by the trees with this path coming out of it. So I have got a strong compositional idea there, but I have also got an interesting dynamic range situation here. The shadow is very black. The path can be very light. I need to decide how I want to handle that. Do I want the shadows to go into complete blackness? Do I want some detail back there? What's the relationship I want between those two different tonal areas? That might lead me to think, do I want to do this in black and white or color? To be honest, I am not being struck by any particular idea right now.

So since I don't have a really clear idea what my final goal is, I want to be sure that I have captured enough exposure latitude, enough image data, that I can really work with this in post and play around with it. I am in program mode right now. I am going to just knock off a shot here, just to get an idea of what I think my composition looks like. That's pretty good. But again, I don't know how much I can move all this around, tonally. So I think I want to go in and get a little more detailed about my approach here.

The first thing I want to think about is depth of field. I want to be sure everything in this image is in focus. So I am going to switch over to Aperture priority mode, because that's going to give me depth of field control. And I am going to just go ahead and dial in an aperture of F11. I am not metering or anything. I know I want an aperture of F11, because F11 is going to give me very deep depth of field. Now I could go to a smaller aperture. I could go to F22 if I wanted. But as I do that, I'm going to--as I go past 11, I am going to start risking a softening in my image that's caused by an optical effect called diffraction.

You can learn all about this in my Foundations of Photography: Lenses course. So I am going to stay on F11 and I am going to take another shot. I am focusing in a very particular place to maximize my depth of field. So, I'm using center-point focusing here to be sure that I have that kind of control. Now, I'm feeling more confident about my focus now that I did over Program mode because I'm not really sure what Aperture Program mode was using, and I have about the same exposure, but I still don't really know what I want to do with those shadows. I would like some more opportunity when I get home. When I look at the histogram, I see that I have got pretty good data, but I am going to go ahead and overexpose by one stop.

So I'm dialing in one stop of overexposure with my Exposure Compensation control. Because I'm in Aperture Priority mode, it's making that Exposure Compensation adjustment by changing shutter speed. So I am coming in at a shutter speed of an 80th of a second. That's still fine for handheld shooting. So I don't need to worry about increasing my ISO. So I am going to take that shot. As I do that, this stuff is going to overexpose out here. So I might want to even back off on that Exposure Compensation adjustment.

Maybe I will go down to just a third of a stop of overexposure, take another shot. So I am really trying to protect myself in terms of the highlights here, while still having some brightening of the shadows. On the other hand, there are some bright lights back there in those shadows. What if I decide I really want the shadows to be dark. Those bright highlights could be a problem. I am going to try and actually just go ahead and fully underexpose those shadows also. I am going to drop down to one stop of underexposure just by making an exposure compensation change. In other words, I am bracketing.

I've now taken a shot one stop under, one stop over. I even did one just a third of a stop over. I am really playing it safe here. I also took a shot as metered. I am really playing it safe here in terms of capturing a really wide tonal range in my images. But now I'm noticing this tree over here, this discolored tree that might be an interesting compositional element. And so I would like to include that in the shot, but I've still got my shadow question. I am going to need to continue bracketing. So enough of this manual bracketing. I'm going to turn on Auto bracketing because that's going to allow me to immediately easily try a lot of different compositions and still keep my bracketing going.

So I am going to frame with the tree on one side and knock off a few shots, and maybe some of this stuff over here might be interesting. Oh, well! I can go full wide here. I haven't scene that before and get a shot there, maybe zoom in a little bit. Each time I am knocking off a full bracket, so I have got lots of exposure options when I get back home. Now you might think oh gosh! In that case I am just going to turn on Auto bracketing and leave it on all the time so that I always have lots of exposure options when I get home. You can do that, but you are really going to complicate your postproduction because now you are shooting three times as much stuff as you normally do and if the wind were blowing now, you know things would be different from one shot to another. So I'm bracketing now because it's a good choice for addressing an issue that I'm having, which is I'm not sure what I want to do with those shadows.

There are going to be other times where I might approach a scene like this and go absolutely, I want those shadows dark. I know exactly what to do. I am going to underexpose by a third of a stop and I would just take that shot. Bracketing would simply complicate my postproduction at that point. I've another option here though. My camera has an HDR feature built into it, which we've explored already. That's going to automatically take two shots, each exposed a little bit differently and it's going to merge them. So I am going to just turn that feature on right now and go ahead and take that HDR shot.

Now, what's nice about this is it gives me a way to previsualize the HDR process on the back of the camera and actually, I like this HDR. This might be an image that I want to use. Or I might decide, HDR is the answer. I will use the HDR software that I have at home. Well, I have already shot bracketed sets of everything that I wanted, so I always have the option of merging those into HDR later if I want. If you are totally mystified by this whole HDR thing, I've got an HDR course you can watch that will explain it up. What I'm doing here is strategizing my exposure, and what's great about doing that on the D800 is I have got all this control that I need on the outside of the camera.

So you have seen me changing modes to get depth-of-field control. You have seen me very easily bracketing my shots manually by simply changing exposure compensation. Then you have seen me zero in on that bracketing process and turn on Auto bracketing in a drive mode, or a continuous mode, so that I can blow through a lot of different compositions all with my same bracketing. I didn't have to dip into the menus till I went to the HDR thing. So, having a handle on these controls, knowing how to very quickly and easily change exposure compensation to get different exposures, how to turn on bracketing, how to turn on your continuous mode, these are going to allow you to approach a difficult exposure situation, or one that may not be that difficult, but you are just not sure what you want.

You are going to be able to approach those situations very quickly and easily. The idea is you don't want to have to be thinking about these controls or thinking about this process; you want to be thinking about tonality and composition. And if you get these controls really under your fingertips so that you can use them without thinking, you are going to have an easier time when you face a situation like this.

Show transcript

This video is part of

Image for Shooting with the Nikon D800
Shooting with the Nikon D800

107 video lessons · 13418 viewers

Ben Long
Author

 
Expand all | Collapse all
  1. 9m 28s
    1. Welcome
      2m 16s
    2. What is an SLR?
      5m 18s
    3. Using this course
      1m 54s
  2. 30m 59s
    1. Exploring basic camera anatomy
      6m 34s
    2. Attaching a lens
      3m 28s
    3. Inserting media cards and a battery
      6m 14s
    4. Powering up
      2m 8s
    5. Working with menu navigation and factory defaults
      3m 1s
    6. Setting the date and time
      1m 50s
    7. Setting the language
      1m 20s
    8. Formatting the media card
      2m 15s
    9. Holding the camera
      4m 9s
  3. 26m 35s
    1. What are shooting modes?
      2m 11s
    2. Exploring the viewfinder display
      4m 41s
    3. Using the LCD screen protector
      46s
    4. Autofocus basics
      2m 42s
    5. Metering basics
      1m 31s
    6. Reviewing images
      2m 21s
    7. Working with image playback
      7m 16s
    8. Adjusting beeps and timers
      1m 52s
    9. Changing button behavior
      2m 2s
    10. Using screen tips
      1m 13s
  4. 26m 58s
    1. Exploring Program mode
      50s
    2. Working with exposure compensation
      4m 16s
    3. Changing ISO
      2m 30s
    4. Using auto ISO
      4m 25s
    5. Exploring Flexible Program
      2m 49s
    6. Exploring image format and size
      6m 18s
    7. Setting a virtual horizon
      2m 17s
    8. Setting the color space
      1m 22s
    9. Configuring multiple media cards
      2m 11s
  5. 12m 49s
    1. Exploring focus modes
      2m 6s
    2. Exploring autofocus area modes
      4m 50s
    3. Using focus points
      1m 57s
    4. Using manual focus
      3m 56s
  6. 9m 57s
    1. Using auto white balance
      1m 1s
    2. Working with white balance presets
      3m 8s
    3. Adjusting white balance manually
      5m 48s
  7. 11m 54s
    1. Exploring Continuous mode
      5m 56s
    2. Exploring Quiet mode
      53s
    3. Using the self-timer
      3m 26s
    4. Locking the mirror up
      1m 39s
  8. 34m 40s
    1. Exploring metering modes
      3m 4s
    2. Using the auto exposure lock
      4m 35s
    3. Exploring Aperture Priority mode
      3m 3s
    4. Using depth of field preview
      2m 50s
    5. Exploring Shutter Priority mode
      2m 32s
    6. Working in Manual mode
      2m 40s
    7. Exposure bracketing
      6m 40s
    8. Using Active D-Lighting
      1m 19s
    9. Using the Vignette Control feature
      1m 6s
    10. Using the Auto Distortion Control feature
      58s
    11. Using long exposure noise reduction
      1m 41s
    12. Using high ISO noise reduction
      1m 22s
    13. Using the Bulb setting in Manual mode
      1m 2s
    14. Using the Info button
      1m 48s
  9. 19m 54s
    1. Adjusting LCD brightness
      2m 31s
    2. Protecting and deleting images
      4m 43s
    3. Hiding images
      1m 35s
    4. Toggling the Rotate Tall feature on and off
      50s
    5. File naming
      1m 21s
    6. Creating a file number sequence
      2m 35s
    7. Creating storage folders
      2m 3s
    8. Adding copyright info
      1m 50s
    9. Using in-camera retouching
      2m 26s
  10. 7m 14s
    1. Using the fill flash
      1m 48s
    2. Using Flash mode
      3m 18s
    3. Working with flash exposure compensation
      2m 8s
  11. 22m 25s
    1. Understanding high-dynamic range (HDR)
      5m 38s
    2. Creating multiple exposures
      3m 38s
    3. Using the interval timer
      5m 42s
    4. Shooting time-lapse photography
      1m 19s
    5. Working with the image area
      4m 25s
    6. Using the remote control
      1m 43s
  12. 8m 33s
    1. Defining picture controls
      2m 7s
    2. Selecting a picture control
      1m 38s
    3. Modifying a picture control
      2m 38s
    4. Using the monochrome picture control
      2m 10s
  13. 15m 42s
    1. Activating Live View
      8m 9s
    2. Focusing in Live View
      5m 27s
    3. Reviewing some Live View drawbacks
      2m 6s
  14. 17m 27s
    1. Configuring and activating video
      4m 34s
    2. Focusing and working with exposure
      7m 11s
    3. Using Playback mode
      3m 17s
    4. Customizing movie controls
      2m 25s
  15. 12m 44s
    1. Using menu banks
      3m 31s
    2. Using the My Menu feature
      2m 12s
    3. Customizing controls
      4m 0s
    4. Autofocus fine-tuning
      1m 25s
    5. Saving and loading settings
      1m 36s
  16. 14m 5s
    1. Working with custom settings
      51s
    2. Using the Focus Priority feature
      2m 15s
    3. Using the AF Activation feature
      1m 34s
    4. Controlling the number of focus points
      36s
    5. Using ISO sensitivity step value
      1m 8s
    6. Working with EV steps for exposure control
      1m 7s
    7. Using exposure flash compensation step value
      1m 1s
    8. Turning on easy exposure compensation
      1m 31s
    9. Using Exposure Delay mode
      1m 20s
    10. Using the Assign FN button
      2m 42s
  17. 6m 45s
    1. Camera sensor cleaning
      3m 29s
    2. Exploring operating conditions and temperatures
      1m 57s
    3. Getting firmware updates
      1m 19s
  18. 15m 43s
    1. Exploring focus and composition
      4m 55s
    2. Using an exposure strategy
      6m 50s
    3. Controlling exposure through Program mode
      3m 58s
  19. 22s
    1. Goodbye
      22s

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