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Using graphs to gauge exposure

From: Up and Running with DSLR Filmmaking

Video: Using graphs to gauge exposure

Chad Perkins: Some DSLR cameras, such as the Canon 5D and a Panasonic GH2, have an on screen histogram which can really help you gauge the exposure of your shot. To enable this on the Canon 5D, go to the back of the camera and click on the Info button a few times to cycle through the info modes, and eventually you will get to the mode with the histogram. This histogram is a read out of the luminance or brightness levels in your shot. From left to right we have shadows, mid tones and highlights. The height of the graph in these areas shows you how much of that particular luminance range you have.

Using graphs to gauge exposure

Chad Perkins: Some DSLR cameras, such as the Canon 5D and a Panasonic GH2, have an on screen histogram which can really help you gauge the exposure of your shot. To enable this on the Canon 5D, go to the back of the camera and click on the Info button a few times to cycle through the info modes, and eventually you will get to the mode with the histogram. This histogram is a read out of the luminance or brightness levels in your shot. From left to right we have shadows, mid tones and highlights. The height of the graph in these areas shows you how much of that particular luminance range you have.

So this histogram suggests that our shot might be a bit too dark--certainly got a lot of shadows and not much in the way of highlights. This shot on the other hand suggests the opposite; lot of bright areas and not much shadow detail. Using a histogram could help you make sure that your image is balanced and could help you prevent blowing out highlights or crushing shadows. If your DSLR doesn't have a histogram, that's ok, it will still have a light meter called a spot meter.

Now these light meters aren't as good and incident meters, which are actually physical things that you hold, and they actually get a reading of how the light falls in an exact spot, but the light meter in your camera is just good for getting an overall sense of the light in your shot. One final tip here, some people like to under expose by just a little bit--I'm actually one of those people, because I can then brighten things up back in post. I usually go one, maybe two tiny little notches down on the exposure meter on the camera. If you go any more that, you are going to get noise. It's going to be ugly.

But having that image a little bit darker is just better then making things too bright. Whether you use a histogram, the camera spot meter or a physical incident light meter to gauge exposure, I highly recommend getting a reading before every shot.

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This video is part of

Image for Up and Running with DSLR Filmmaking
Up and Running with DSLR Filmmaking

43 video lessons · 25307 viewers

Chad Perkins
Author

 
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  1. 2m 10s
    1. Welcome
      1m 25s
    2. About the camera used in this course
      45s
  2. 11m 35s
    1. Understanding photography
      44s
    2. Understanding aperture
      1m 51s
    3. Trade-offs with aperture adjustment
      2m 32s
    4. Understanding shutter speed
      1m 26s
    5. Trade-offs with shutter adjustment
      2m 41s
    6. Understanding ISO
      44s
    7. Trade-offs with ISO adjustment
      1m 37s
  3. 6m 37s
    1. Understanding sensor size
      1m 19s
    2. Protecting highlights and native ISO
      1m 24s
    3. Getting a custom white balance
      2m 27s
    4. Focusing for video
      1m 27s
  4. 9m 24s
    1. Using lenses
      1m 51s
    2. Understanding wide lenses
      2m 39s
    3. Understanding long lenses
      2m 32s
    4. Getting shallow depth of field
      2m 22s
  5. 12m 34s
    1. Using graphs to gauge exposure
      2m 1s
    2. Recording audio
      2m 42s
    3. Using a clapperboard
      1m 13s
    4. Shooting a "flat" image
      51s
    5. Using custom color profiles
      54s
    6. Shooting slow motion
      1m 19s
    7. Getting a beautiful shot
      3m 34s
  6. 13m 33s
    1. Why use Premiere Pro for editing?
      1m 21s
    2. Transcoding video
      2m 29s
    3. Combining video and audio streams
      2m 7s
    4. Cleaning up noise and adding grain
      3m 26s
    5. Color correcting footage
      4m 10s
  7. 6m 1s
    1. About DSLR pitfalls
      30s
    2. Avoiding rolling shutter
      51s
    3. Avoiding moiré
      1m 6s
    4. About limited latitude
      1m 56s
    5. About extreme compression
      1m 38s
  8. 7m 27s
    1. Why you need a monitor
      58s
    2. Using a viewfinder
      52s
    3. Stabilizing your camera
      1m 43s
    4. Moving your camera
      35s
    5. Using a follow focus
      37s
    6. Using a matte box
      1m 8s
    7. Using neutral density filters
      1m 34s
  9. 1m 17s
    1. The future of DSLR video
      54s
    2. Final thoughts
      23s

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