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Light reading and scene is backlit
Old 12-18-2019   #1
Captain Kidd
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Light reading and scene is backlit

Hello everyone,

I asked a question similar to this some time back
https://www.rangefinderforum.com/for...d.php?t=166449

But I think there was some confusion about the kind of picture I had in mind, I have since found 2 examples of pictures that help with my question so I thought best to start a new thread.

My question is, the two examples below, letís say they are the result I want. If I was facing these two scenes, am I right to think that taking a light reading by pointing the light meter at the camera would be the wrong approach because I am pointing the light meter away from the sun and the area I want properly exposed. That to get the results like this, I should take the reading by pointing the light meter towards the sun?

Thanks for any help. Again 😁
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Old 12-18-2019   #2
BernardL
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Negative? Reversal? Digital?
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Old 12-18-2019   #3
Captain Kidd
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I’m talking about using an incident light meter, im not sure what difference It makes what camera I use after taking a light reading. But I use a 35mm film camera.
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Old 12-18-2019   #4
Chriscrawfordphoto
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Here are tutorials that I wrote for two different techniques that both work well for metering strongly backlit scenes.

Incident-Reflected Average

Incident Duplex Method
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Old 12-18-2019   #5
peterm1
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You sound as if you have a hand held light meter. The best shot will generally be obtained by using the meter's ambient (or incident) metering feature which measures the brightness of incoming light from the sun. In this mode hand-held meters generally have a white translucent light diffuser which slides over the metering cell. This is held up to the sun. (Don't do this without the translucent diffuser in place as it will give a wholly wrong reading). If your light meter does not have this ability then use your camera or your hand-held light meter's normal metering mode to do the following.

Work out which part of the scene you want to be correctly exposed. Put the camera in fully manual mode (you may be using a manual camera anyway). Point the light meter (in-camera or hand-held) at the ground near the main subject. The tone of the ground will usually approximate the tone of 18% gey which is the tone to which light meters including those in cameras are always calibrated. Take note of the correct exposure as read by the meter and apply that to the whole scene. This will give a pretty good exposure in most situations -provided that the part of the scene you want to be correctly exposed is in the same amount of light. However be aware that if you are photographing a backlit scene of people, say, and their faces are in shadow and you have metered off a more sunny section of ground near them you may wish to increase the exposure by a stop or stop and a half (if in more extreme shadow) to make sure their faces are correctly exposed. A bit of experimentation is warranted. Note own what you have done and if shooting film especially check results later and learn from them.

But of course if as is implied in your question the scene is highly contrasty the background will then be over exposed as it will be much brighter than the main scene is. In that situation if you want more of a balance you might choose to deviate from the metered setting by stopping the camera down a stop or more from what your meter has told you when used in that way. This will provide a compromise exposure.

PS in the case of the copse of trees you look to be wanting to get a more or less darkened silhouette of the tree. metering by just pointing the meter at the scene directly will normally give you this in a backlit situation. If you take an incident reading using the process described above and you are standing in the sun when you take it the result might be similar as the copse of tree will naturally be in its own shadow and hence be under exposed.
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Old 12-18-2019   #6
Bill Clark
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There are several ways to do this.

How I would make the photo is maybe different than how others would.

With digital capture I find it’s pretty easy. With film I would use a polaroid back, making a test photograph that I used to determine if I had set up what I wanted. I would first determine what I wanted as the end result (pre-visualize) a photograph in my head first. Then I would go and make it.

I try to get light to be in balance with the photographs I make. I don’t like pure white sky's or a blown out background.

It involves using the histogram of the camera. The LCD screen on mine isn’t what I would get with my RAW files.

With your first photograph I would try to get a situation where I’m not fighting with the sun. I understand that the human brain first has the eyes go to the brightest area of a photograph. Is that what you were striving for? Or were the people most important?

When I photographed people I got the background properly exposed then I used my trusty Quantum flashes positioned and set properly to fill in light in the foreground. I used pocket wizards to remotely fire the flashes.

At any rate, it’s what would go through my mind. Works for me.
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Old 12-19-2019   #7
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Thanks Chris, Peter and Bill, plenty to read over and think about. Much appreciated.
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Old 12-19-2019   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chriscrawfordphoto View Post
Here are tutorials that I wrote for two different techniques that both work well for metering strongly backlit scenes.
Thanks Chris, in your duplex method tutorial of the tree trunk that is backlit, if you did not want any detail in the tree trunk, would you only use the reading that you took with the flat defusser pointed to the sun?

The example I posted has no detail in the tree trunks so if you were standing in that scene to recreate it maybe it would not be an average?

Great tutorials, I really appreciate them and will keep them bookmarked. Thanks again
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Old 12-19-2019   #9
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Meter for your subject, or, my preferred way, meter for the highlights and use a flash to light your subject.
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Old 12-19-2019   #10
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Thanks vosh, I know that’s the general approach but it’s the examples above that I’m trying to recreate, and I’m just trying to figure out the approach to metering those scenes to get those results. Thanks
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Old 12-19-2019   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Captain Kidd View Post
Thanks Chris, in your duplex method tutorial of the tree trunk that is backlit, if you did not want any detail in the tree trunk, would you only use the reading that you took with the flat defusser pointed to the sun?

The example I posted has no detail in the tree trunks so if you were standing in that scene to recreate it maybe it would not be an average?

Great tutorials, I really appreciate them and will keep them bookmarked. Thanks again



The techniques in my tutorial are designed to give an exposure that will minimize the problems of light tones being too light to hold detail and dark tones being too dark to hold detail. If the brightness range in the scene is very high, the exposure will be biased toward midtones and extreme highlights and shadows will be lost.


If you have a specific tone you want something to be rendered, the most accurate way is to use a handheld spotmeter.


This tutorial shows you how to do that.



If you do not have a spotmeter or don't want to use one, then I'd use the duplex method with your incident meter then make three exposures. One using the exposure settings the duplex method gave, then an exposure underexposing 1/2 stop, then finally one underexposing a full stop. Then pick the one you like best.
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Old 12-19-2019   #12
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Thanks Chris, very helpful tutorials ����
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Old 12-19-2019   #13
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Meter for the shadows. Then depending on the type of film I’d stop down 2 or 3 stops. I have a thought time visualizing it in my head without my camera but I think that’s right. A case were digital does make it easier. Like shooting a Polaroid before taking that 4x5 Kodachrome shot in the old days.
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