Join Ben Long for an in-depth discussion in this video Taking fisheye further, part of Foundations of Photography: Specialty Lenses.
Your fisheye lens is great for cramming a really big space into your frame. I am facing a boiler on Alcatraz. And I really want it all because the ceiling has beautiful texture on it, the boilers are really interesting thing, there's all sorts of decay all the way around. And with my fisheye lens, I can very easily turn that huge field of view onto the subject, and I get this. So compositionally, this is not going to win any awards, but it's a really nice document of the scene, and it is showing me everything that's in the frame.
That's what I was hoping to get. But check out the exposure, the exposure is really off. Now, this is an absolute way, something you're going to run into when you shoot with a fisheye, particularly in a situation like this where we've got a really varied lighting situation. We've got a big dark shadowy boiler in the middle of the frame and then I've got these bright lights on the edge through the open doorways. That's what's messing up my meter. The fisheye is wide enough that it's picking up the doors which you can see on the edge of the frame and the brightness of the floor, but it's also tall enough that it's trying to reach into the shadows. It has metered overall pretty well.
Actually, I've got good shadow detail, and I've got pretty good detail on the floor and the bright highlights, but there's still a little hot. This is something you're going to run into the first minute you put your fisheye lens on, it's just so wide your meter can get confused. Now, you've got a few options for how to deal with this. You could switch to spot metering and meter off of the floor to get it properly exposed. So I'm going to meter here, and I'm going to lock in that exposure, reframe my shot, and I get this. Now, the floor is metered properly now, but everything else is gone way too dark.
I could try to brighten that up in my image editor, but anytime you head towards brightening up something, particularly something as dark as this, you're going to run the risk of introducing more noise into your image. That's also kind of a drag of a way to shoot. I'm having a meter here, and reframe, and make sure that I don't lose focus, and make sure that I've locked my metering and all that kind of stuff. So I'm really not a fan of spot metering in this instance. Instead, I'm going to try something else. I'm going to make sure that I'm on my full matrix metering or evaluative metering, depending on what your camera calls it.
This is it where it's going to analyze the entire frame and come up with a good overall metering. This is what I think I was doing before. I wasn't really paying attention obviously, so let's take a look at this. Yes, that is a matrix-metered shot. It's done a good job overall, but things are a little over-exposed on the foreground. I'm simply going to tell it to under expose using Exposure Compensation. I'm going to dial in one stop of under-exposure. I'm shooting on Aperture Priority mode, so I know that it's going to hold the aperture that I want as it does this under-exposure.
So that's going to ensure that I continue to get a depth of field. And now, I'm starting to get some more detail back on my floor. I think I'm going to go a little bit further, though. I'm going to go two stops under, and it's fine to just experiment like this until you get something that looks like it's a little better exposed. So, now I've got more detail on the floor. I don't have to worry about those highlights. I haven't compromise too much of my shadows. Finally, there's one other approach I can take, and that is to go to an HDR approach, that's shooting three frames metered differently that I'm then going to combine later using HDR software.
If you're not familiar with HDR, check out my HDR course. It will walk you through this whole process. So when I do that, I get something. It's a little dark in here, so shooting HDR handheld is a little bit tricky. I'm going to bump my ISO up. I'm actually going to go ahead and dial in some under-exposure because I don't think I need super bright highlights in here, and because it will keep my shutter speeds up, and that will give me easier handheld shooting. So these are my three RAW shots. And if I merge those together I get this, so this is another approach.
So lots of different options here for getting my exposure right in a situation like this. The important thing to take away from this movie is an understanding that when you're working with a fisheye, you're pulling in such a wide field of view that you're going to have a variety of lights sources that may confuse your metering, so you're going to have to pay very close attention to your highlights, check the Histogram on your camera, and employ some kind of strategy for getting that exposure under control.
The course begins with a look at several common and inexpensive lens attachments, from polarizers to neutral density filters. The course then explores ultra-wide angle and fisheye lenses as well as ultra-long telephoto and macro lenses. The course concludes with a look at tilt-shift lenses, which are useful for architectural photography and special effects, and at offbeat lenses, such as Lensbaby and Holga attachments.
The course also contains Photoshop postproduction advice and examples that illustrate the creative possibilities that an expanded lens collection provides. And because some specialty lenses are extremely expensive, the course also contains advice on renting gear.