Exercise – Measuring exposure

The brief:

Part 1: take between four and six photographs which are deliberately lighter or darker than average and say why in your written notes.

Fig. 01 - Alley patio

Fig. 01 – Alley patio
f8, 1/400, 38mm, ISO 200

Fig. 01 is deliberately darker as it was an extremely bright day and my previous shots of this scene had the sky blowing out. So I underexposed to accommodate the highlights and worked on bringing back shadow detail in post processing.

Fig. 02 - Commodore Ballroom

Fig. 02 – Commodore Ballroom
f7.1, 1/200, 24mm, ISO 200

Fig. 02 was made lighter to bring out the details of the brick work of the Commodore Ballroom, one of Vancouver’s old heritage buildings. The ballroom is actually below ground. However, in lightening the image I have lost quite a bit of detail in the highlights on the skyscrapers in the background, so I probably lightened it a little too much. For the purpose of this exercise, I have not done post processing on this image.

Fig. 03 - Maple tree

Fig. 03 – Maple tree
f4.8, 1/250, 122mm, ISO 200

I wanted to show more saturation in the gorgeous autumn colours of this maple tree in fig. 03, so I deliberately underexposed for this image.

Fig. 04 - Sunset at Ambleside Beach

Fig. 04 – Sunset at Ambleside Beach
f5.6, 1/125, 55mm, ISO 100

To get the orange saturation of the sunset (fig 04) I underexposed by about 2 stops. This resulted in a silhouette of the mountains in the distance, apartment buildings, pier and kayakers, while still retaining some colour in the sea.

In looking through my archives, it looks as if I have a tendency to expose either to the average mark or to underexpose slightly. Probably not a bad thing.

Part 2: take five or six different photographs, of any subject, but for each one make five exposures, arranged around what you have measured as the best exposure. The first should be one stop darker, the second half a stop darker, the third average, the fourth half a stop lighter and the fifth one one stop lighter.

For this part of the exercise I headed over to Grand Boulevard, an urban park modeled after the Champs Elysee, that cuts a green belt through our residential area for about 11 blocks which is very popular with runners and dogs.

For the images of the gnarly tree (fig 01 – 05) I found that all are acceptable to me. Fig 01 is a little oversaturated, but there are still good details in the shadows. Fig 03 – the average reading is pretty much as expected and probably truer to the actual scene. The tree bark in Fig 05 is much lighter than in the other images, although no highlights have blown out. Fig 02, 03 and 04 are the most usable images.

All the images of the gnarly tree’s shadow (fig 06 – 10) work for me, except fig 10 which is on the verge of blowing its highlights in the brighter patches of dead grass. I think fig 09 is the closer replica of the scene than fig 08 is.

The photographs of the park bench (fig 11 – 15) are all fine. Fig 15 is too light for my personal taste (highlights are close to blowing out) and the wooden slats are beginning to lose detail in the wood grain. I think fig 13 is a fair replica of of the actual scene. Personally I would tend more towards fig 11 and 12.

I’m not sure what went wrong with my settings on this set (fig 16 – 20) as my shutter speed changed in the last two shots. I’m going to put it down to cold fingers. Notwithstanding this slip, the exercise still works as the average image (fig 18) is a fair representation of the scene. Fig 19 is very close to blowing highlights, but is still acceptable, but in fig 20 details in the branches and the man’s jacket are totally blown out. My favourite in this set is fig 17.

In the final set of images of this fire-like bush (fig 21 – 25) fig 24 and 25 are not acceptable, although only fig 25 has blown highlights. Because the scene was front lit by the sun which caused a fair bit of desaturation in fig 24 and 25,  I think fig 21 and 22 work the best. Fig 23 is a little lighter than expected.