Trust your metering in portrait photography or not?

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by alexxk, Mar 24, 2015.

  1. alexxk macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Jul 29, 2010
    #1
    Hello all,

    I've been photographing landscapes for a while and recently I decided to also photography people and I found out that getting the right exposure is harder than with landscape because you are dealing with foreground and background.

    When I was trusting my camera metering.. shooting in 0EV most of my photos came out underexposed, the subject came out very dark and I had to fix in LR later.. then after research and reading more about portrait photography I started to shoot manual and overexpose the shot by 2/3 to 1 or even higher than a full stop in some situations. I get correct exposure for the subject and bright overexposed background especially during the day and under a sunny day.

    I could use a flash to fill in light and get a better exposed background but I'm not a big fan of flashes..

    What about you guys? Do you also overexpose for portrait? is it really a good idea or should I trust the metering and just fix in post? is there a rule here I should follow to get better quality portraits?

    I now shooting in the magic hour is the best, but sometimes you just have to go with what you have..

    I shoot Portrait on a Canon 6D, I have a Canon 85mm 1.8 and 24-105L F4 for wider shots..
     
  2. The Bad Guy macrumors 6502a

    The Bad Guy

    Joined:
    Oct 2, 2007
    Location:
    Australia
    #2
    Shoot manual. Expose for the background. Light subject accordingly. Learn to love flashes. At least use reflectors.
     
  3. DevNull0 macrumors 65816

    Joined:
    Jan 6, 2015
    #3
    This exactly.

    As the OP noticed, there is a huge difference in exposure for the sky and subject and you're not going to get both properly exposed without adding light to the subject.
     
  4. Bending Pixels macrumors 65816

    Joined:
    Jul 22, 2010
    #4
    Shoot manual, and if your camera has it, use zone metering. Meter off of the skin tone and adjust your exposure based on it. Yeah...we're talkin' the Zone System here, but it works. Zone metering meters to 18% gray, or Zone V. based on that, if you're shooting someone with Caucasian skin, you'd over expose 3-4 stops. If you're shooting Asian/Latin skin, perhaps overexpose 1-2 stops. If someone with Black or Indian skin, under-expose 1-2 stops.

    [​IMG]
     
  5. MacCruiskeen macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Nov 9, 2011
    #5
    And also diffusers. You don't have to love flashes to learn how to use them effectively.

    And a good hand-held meter can be your friend in a tough spot--since many of my cameras don't have their own meters, I just use my Gossen for everything.
     
  6. alexxk thread starter macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Jul 29, 2010
    #6
    That's another things I was researching, hand-held meters.

    Can someone recommend me a good but cheap meter? They seem expensive though..

    Thanks for all the responses btw!!
     
  7. ChrisA macrumors G4

    Joined:
    Jan 5, 2006
    Location:
    Redondo Beach, California
    #7
    A kodak 18% grey card will turn any camera into an incident light meter. Place the card in from t of the subject's face and meter off that. then check that the sky is not "blown out and you are good to go.

    Modern dSLR have an RGB Histogram feature that turns them into very advance "zone system" light meters.

    The ONLY reason to own a meter today of if you use studio strobe and need to measure the strobe light. I have a classic Minolta strobe meter for that.
     
  8. Miltz macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Sep 6, 2013
    Location:
    New York
    #8
    I also have a Canon 6D with 85mm 1.8. My advice is to shoot in live view so you can see what you sensor is seeing, this way you can adjust for it.
     
  9. jc1350 macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Feb 4, 2008
    #9
    Live view - you kids are so spoiled these days. :D

    I'm still "stuck" on a 30D. Saving my pennies for a 7D mkII.

    One thing about film I miss - a camera could be 50 years old and still work just as well as a new camera and I wasn't limited to ISO800 for usable photos. Digital is a blessing on one side, a curse on the other.
     
  10. aerok macrumors 65816

    aerok

    Joined:
    Oct 29, 2011
    #10
    Is there a reason why you're not going 6D?
     
  11. jc1350 macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Feb 4, 2008
    #11
    Two main reasons.

    1. I already have EF-S lenses. I can't justify the cost of replacing them, especially with the finance committee (the wife). This is strictly for personal use/family/self-gratification.

    2. From what I've read, the 7DmkII was built for "me." Mainly it's very fast with autofocus and is perfect for sports. This will be very handy with my son's youth athletics where light is not all that good sometimes and where I grumble the most with my 30D.
     
  12. mofunk macrumors 68000

    mofunk

    Joined:
    Aug 26, 2009
    Location:
    Americas
  13. aerok macrumors 65816

    aerok

    Joined:
    Oct 29, 2011
    #13
    Ah ok makes a lot sense

    Many of the people I know that picked the 7DII was because it's newer...
     
  14. Miltz macrumors 6502

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    Sep 6, 2013
    Location:
    New York
    #14
    Why not go Full Frame? 800 ISO will be you new friend...:D
     
  15. jc1350 macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Feb 4, 2008
    #15
    EF-S lenses extend too deeply into full-frame cameras and block the mirror's movements OR, for another perspective, the mirrors in full-frame cameras are too large. ;)
     
  16. cupcakes2000 macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Apr 13, 2010
    #16
    Spot meter and exposure for the face. Golden rule.
     

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