Beginner Under exposure confusion!

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Lianne
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Hello,

I have just completed a diploma in photography, I would like to do baby photography, I'm practicing on every child in my family but I'm noticing that even tho I have the shutter speed,aperture and iOS where they need to be for correct exposure on light meter when I put them on to my computer they are still dark???

Any ideas as to why?

Lianne
 
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2,558
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John
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Try using automatic exposure and see if that gives the same result. If they are dark as well, it is your monitor. If the automatic ones are fine, it is your metering technique (telling you to use automatic in future).
 
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Phil
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Centring a meter doesn't give 'correct' exposure, it gives 'average' exposure. Your camera meter will make a white wall grey, a grey wall grey and a black wall grey. It doesn't know what you're pointing it at. That's why you have to go and get a diploma to make the camera see what you want it to.

I'll bet that this was covered in your classes ;)

Also - calibrate your monitor (just in case)
 
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Lianne
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Lianne
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Foundation level.... I'm still learning! Yes I used a grey card, the background it white.

Incident or reflected!??
 
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Phil
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Foundation level.... I'm still learning! Yes I used a grey card, the background it white.

Incident or reflected!??
Are you measuring incident or reflected?
What's the histogram look like?
 
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Terry
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Reflected light is the amount of light reflected off your subject.
Incident light is the amount of direct light shining on your subject.

Did you use flash or natural light?

I'd bracket the shots as it sounds as if there is a lot of white confusing the meter.

Did the shots look OK on the LCD?
 
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Incident or reflected!??
There are two types of light meter, they're used very differently.

Unless you mean the meter built into the camera? - in which case which mode are you using it in (spot, average, evaluative/matrix) and what are you pointing it at in the scene?
 
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Dave
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Can you post a shot up here, with the EXIF data, so we can see the effect?

Dave
 
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Lianne
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Lianne
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Thank u greenninja, I didn't learn about those terms so I don't know which one I used

I used continuous lighting and they looked fine on the lcd!

I also used the meter in my camera, which mode would you guys suggest!?

I should defo know this....
 
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I suggest starting by telling us which camera and lens you used, and providing a sample image. Otherwise we may just go round in circles.
 
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Phil
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Thank u greenninja, I didn't learn about those terms so I don't know which one I used

I used continuous lighting and they looked fine on the lcd!

I also used the meter in my camera, which mode would you guys suggest!?

I should defo know this....
Photography is very rarely about 'which mode'. Your camera manual is all the help you need for 'modes', but in a studio setting, usually Manual is the way to go as your lighting is constant.

Continuous lighting is generally s***e, but that's not the cause of your problems.

Your LCD is no guide to correct exposure, you should use the histogram for that.

The histogram will tell you all you need to know about how bright your image really is, neither the camera screen or your monitor can be relied upon until they've been sense checked with the histogram.
 
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Toni
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We could make it a little complicated, but there's several ways you could approach this. I am presuming this is learning time, rather than paid work.

The easiest way would be to use your cameras built-in meter and leave the camera in 'auto' - it will average the white background, the darker subject and try to make them an average mid-grey as Phil said. There's a fair chance it will all just come out OK & you'll get usable shots, though not perfectly exposed.

A better thing to do, if you have a patient sitter, would be to take the cameras meter reading as a mid-point, writing down the suggested aperture and shutter speed (I am assuming you're using a fixed ISO - if not then you need to set & fix it to whatever the camera auto mode suggested). Next, set the camera to manual mode and use those settings as a start point alter either shutter speed or aperture (one, not both) to increase of decrease exposure. Record the values used for each frame and then when you view the images histogram after you can see what effect exposure adjustments had on the image.

That will give you a starting point.
 
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Lianne
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Lianne
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Ok so for a studio setting i don't really have much choice when natural lighting isn't an option.

Thank you for the advice I will upload a pic and info when I get on my computer.
 
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Lianne
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Lianne
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Thank you for ancient_mariner very helpful!! Yes just learning x
 
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Phil
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Ok so for a studio setting i don't really have much choice when natural lighting isn't an option.

Thank you for the advice I will upload a pic and info when I get on my computer.
Sorry Lianne, I don't mean to sound disparaging, but cheap continuous lighting is no use for photographing living subjects, it creates frustration which will eventually grind you down.

When there's not enough daylight, flash is the lighting of choice.

But it's not the cause of your current problems (though might be a contributing factor)
 
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Sorry Lianne, I don't mean to sound disparaging, but cheap continuous lighting is no use for photographing living subjects, it creates frustration which will eventually grind you down.
^ that.

You can use continuous lighting, but it won't be cheap. A standard eBay-/Amazon-special just doesn't kick out much light at all. And by the time you get to something with enough output the price is higher than for a flashgun with the same output, and the LED system is probably now tied to being plugged into a wall socket (or an expensive battery pack).
 
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Lianne
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Lianne
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No it's very helpful thank you, I will try with a flash and see how I get on. I am currently reading all about histograms as this seems to be the only reliable way of checking exposure.

I am also looking into calibrating my monitor! Hopefully this will help also
 
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I have just completed a diploma in photography, I would like to do baby photography, I'm practicing on every child in my family but I'm noticing that even tho I have the shutter speed,aperture and iOS where they need to be for correct exposure on light meter when I put them on to my computer they are still dark???
You are doing it wrong ... and no, I'm not being flippant or cruel.
Most (all?) modern digital cameras will give almost correct exposure unless you force them to do it wrong. Some are better than others, and the metering mode and light sources affect the results.
What exposure do you get on the exact same scene using your "need to be" settings and, for example, aperture-priority or AUTO ?
 
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Ned
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Basically that's underexposed.

This could be because the background is white so the meter is lowering exposure to achieve grey.

Probably recoverable if you shot in raw but ultimately you will need to learn how to meter.

edit: and learn how to read histograms because if you could you would know this is underexposed.
 
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Oliver
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I think the white wood background is the problem here. It accounts for probably 2/3 of the scene and is probably slightly lighter than the girl. Therefore, if you're using an average or matrix metering mode, the camera will exposure for the wood more than the girl. If you were to choose a centre-weighted metering mode, the girl would be properly exposed.
 
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Terry
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I'd like to apologise for my rude comment at the start of this thread lianne.

As the image is underexposed you stand a good chance of retrieving all the detail.
It's better to underexpose than overexpose as if the details are burnt out you won't get them back.

Hope this helps.
 
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Phil
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You've fallen into some common traps, but don't worry we've all done it.

Apart from the metering (which I'm sure you'll grasp) as you try to improve that shot there's more.

The subject is too close to the background, which is what everyone does at first, it's an easy fix provided you have the space*.

Once you get your subject away from the bg, the background will darken because it's a lot further from the light than your subject (the inverse square law) to keep the bg bright enough, it'll need lighting seperately. If you'd picked a mid toned bg it'd matter less than with the white.

There's a lot more to this photography lark than it first appears.

Above all though: the most important element is the engagement with the subject. If you want to get into portraits seriously, forget the backgrounds and lights for now, and learn how to make engaging pictures without the paraphernalia.

*youll need more space than people realise, even for a headshot I can use the length of a large living room (15ft)
 
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2,212
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Craig
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The histogram is a 21st century light meter.

Shoot manual or aperture priority (with or without auto Iso) it makes no difference.

Take a shot, look at the back of the camera, ask yourself is the histogram as far to the right as it can be without clipping against the right hand side itself (ensure accurate white balance and check the rgb histogram too).

If the answer is 'no' then open the aperture up, increase the exposure time or increase the iso sensitivity in manual or add positive exposure compensation is aperture priority.

Take another shot and review again. Keep increasing exposure until it touches the right hand side, then dial it back a third of a stop at least. The reason being why we want to expose to the right is to maximise signal to noise ratio. However a blown to pure white highlight is gone, it has not colour information to work with so you need to be careful. Highlight blinkies can help but they are only based in the JPEG preview...

You will darken the ettr file in post usually, although my limited understanding brighter portraits can look better than darker ones anyway.

http://www.cambridgeincolour.com/tutorials/digital-exposure-techniques.htm
 
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23,808
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Phil
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Shoot manual or aperture priority (with or without auto Iso) it makes no difference.
On the OP's camera it might make a lot of difference. On most Canon's there's no exp comp when shooting Manual, so Auto ISO would just centre the meter and not allow any override of the settings.
 
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2,212
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Craig
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On the OP's camera it might make a lot of difference. On most Canon's there's no exp comp when shooting Manual, so Auto ISO would just centre the meter and not allow any override of the settings.
Correct it's pretty annoying!

I didn't phrase it well but what I meant was it makes no difference if you use manual or aperture priority. Some people believe you have to use full manual to be a good photographer.

The histogram is king, how you get there varies slightly.
 
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23,808
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Phil
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Phil, is this because it's CHEAP or because it's CONTINUOS?
Well there are some good continuous lights, but they cost more than flash so
Just cheap.

Decent continuous lighting is OK and worth every penny if you're shooting video. But flash is more practical for stills.
 
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