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Author Topic: Landscape Metering  (Read 10726 times)
vinzchlortho
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« on: September 28, 2007, 10:36:45 PM »
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Hello,

     I'm just starting with landscapes, with the intent of doing panoramas, vertical and horizontal.  I have studio experience, including working with a meter, but outdoors has me confused.  I have a digital Canon Rebel XTi, Sekonic L-308S light meter, Pano-3 pan head attachment for the tripod and a lot of excitement about taking pictures.
     I assume that reflective metering is used most of the time in lanscape shots.  Here starts the confusion.  The camera's reading and the light meter's reading aren't the same, sometime off by quite a bit.  Is this normal?  Would someone help me with this?  Perhaps by letting me in on some of the tricks of the trade.  I would appreciate it very much.
     I didn't want to ask too much the first time.  


Thanks...Vince
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Jonathan Wienke
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« Reply #1 on: September 28, 2007, 11:27:45 PM »
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A handheld meter isn't all that useful for digital photography. Your camera's histogram is a much better tool for judging exposure. To learn how to best use it, read this article:

http://www.visual-vacations.com/Photograph..._strategies.htm
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marcmccalmont
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« Reply #2 on: September 28, 2007, 11:29:40 PM »
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I make things simple. I put my camera in aperature priority set an aperature for either max sharpness, the available light or the depth of field I want. With my eye I find the brightest portion of the scene and take one shot. I look at the histogram and expose to the right without clipping, confirm with a second shot. I then take this shutter speed put it in manual mode and from left to right shoot the number of frames needed for the panorama. After converting the raw for maximum data I adjust the "exposure" and dynamic range with curves or levels in PS. This way I have maximised the data for the dynamic range of my cameras sensor. At times you will find the DR of a daylight sene too much and each frame needs to be processed twice once for the sky and once for the landscape, then blended.
Marc

[attachment=3421:attachment]
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Marc McCalmont
vinzchlortho
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« Reply #3 on: September 29, 2007, 01:30:45 PM »
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Hey...that's some really helpful information.  I will attempt to follow your instructions and methods.  I really appreciate it.  Hopefully, when I go off to make these improvements, I will be able to come back here and ask some more questions.

Thanks you very much for your help.

Vince...
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vinzchlortho
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« Reply #4 on: September 29, 2007, 01:46:10 PM »
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I make things simple. I put my camera in aperature priority set an aperature for either max sharpness, the available light or the depth of field I want. With my eye I find the brightest portion of the scene and take one shot. I look at the histogram and expose to the right without clipping, confirm with a second shot. I then take this shutter speed put it in manual mode and from left to right shoot the number of frames needed for the panorama. After converting the raw for maximum data I adjust the "exposure" and dynamic range with curves or levels in PS. This way I have maximised the data for the dynamic range of my cameras sensor. At times you will find the DR of a daylight sene too much and each frame needs to be processed twice once for the sky and once for the landscape, then blended.
Marc

[attachment=3421:attachment]
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=142562\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

That picture in your personal information is great.  Perhaps, while I'm practicing, I could throw in a couple of my panorama questions...if you don't mind.
I assume it is necessary to not only have the camera on a tripod but also with a pan head?  I have a nice one, but I thought I would ask you.
Probably my biggest question to date is this:  when I use Adobe Photoshop Elements 5.0, with its panoramic function, mostly I guess, for stitching, the resulting (stitched) picture contains different shades of light and dark.  That is, looking at the sky, you can see where it's not the same blue.  One frame may be a little lighter or darker.  Consider I haven't started to use the pan head yet, just the tripod.
I might be able to answer some of this, once I incorporate some of your techniques into my photo routines.  I really appreciate your information.

Vince
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DarkPenguin
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« Reply #5 on: September 29, 2007, 02:01:07 PM »
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Just some random thoughts....

Make sure you lock your exposure down.  You don't want the camera re-metering on each frame.  (Same with focus.)

Make sure the raw files go in with the same settings.  You do not want a different white balance on each frame.  etc.

Get a newer version of photoshop.  CS3 (and I believe the latest elements version) have a much improved photomerge function.

A pan head is a must if you have anything close to you in the foreground.  If you do not then a tripod works (make sure you level the head then the camera mount).

With the latest version of CS3 I've found I can play pretty fast and loose with the captures and still get something good so long as I get the white balance and exposures locked down.
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vinzchlortho
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« Reply #6 on: September 29, 2007, 02:12:09 PM »
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Just some random thoughts....

Make sure you lock your exposure down.  You don't want the camera re-metering on each frame.  (Same with focus.)

Make sure the raw files go in with the same settings.  You do not want a different white balance on each frame.  etc.

Get a newer version of photoshop.  CS3 (and I believe the latest elements version) have a much improved photomerge function.

A pan head is a must if you have anything close to you in the foreground.  If you do not then a tripod works (make sure you level the head then the camera mount).

With the latest version of CS3 I've found I can play pretty fast and loose with the captures and still get something good so long as I get the white balance and exposures locked down.
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=142725\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

Thank you very much.  Did I misunderstand?  Won't Photoshop Elements 5.0 be sufficient for panorama work?  I just missed an opportunity to get CS3 at a discount.  I'll wait to hear from you before I get CS3.  Thanks...
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DarkPenguin
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« Reply #7 on: September 29, 2007, 02:23:39 PM »
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CS3 has a better photomerge utility than CS2.  It just makes life easier.  I believe Photoshop Elements 6 has the same utility.  I'd wait for an elements 6 demo (might already be out) before making any decisions.
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vinzchlortho
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« Reply #8 on: September 29, 2007, 03:08:30 PM »
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CS3 has a better photomerge utility than CS2.  It just makes life easier.  I believe Photoshop Elements 6 has the same utility.  I'd wait for an elements 6 demo (might already be out) before making any decisions.
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=142731\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]
Thank you.  I just lammed on the brakes and I'll wait.  Since most of my work will be panoramic landscapes, that's what I would be using the digital editting software for.  I had a 50% off opportunity on CS3, two weeks ago, but it expired.  Rats...
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DarkPenguin
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« Reply #9 on: September 29, 2007, 03:14:59 PM »
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You can try hugins for free ...

Here is a how to article posted around here (or there) a while ago....

http://www.bryanhansel.com/articles/panohowto.htm
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vinzchlortho
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« Reply #10 on: September 29, 2007, 10:38:32 PM »
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You can try hugins for free ...

Here is a how to article posted around here (or there) a while ago....

http://www.bryanhansel.com/articles/panohowto.htm
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=142743\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

Hey...that's cool.  I'm reading how to calibrate the pan head.  This is all good stuff.  I think I've found a home.

Okay...I've got enough here to last me.  I will attempt to perform all of the tips, ideas and methods that you nice people have offered.  I really appreciate this.  Let's see what develops (sorry for the pun) this week.

Thanks again...Vince
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jonstewart
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« Reply #11 on: September 30, 2007, 05:00:40 AM »
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A handheld meter isn't all that useful for digital photography.

[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=142561\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

That's a bit of a sweeping generalisation!

I have a handheld meter, and I can tell you (especially for pano's) it's much quicker to use than shoot and look, shoot and look, shoot and look! I meter highlight, shadow and midtone, and the meter averages it for me. It takes about 5-10 seconds.

My meter has a 1 degree spot meter though: I would thoroughly agree with Jonathan that incident meters are next to useless for metering anything you can't stand right beside.

Lastly, your camera based meter didn't cost you a single penny more when you bought the camera. A good handheld with spot isn't going to be cheap, so using the histo will be a lot cheaper!

If you don't have or don't want to use a handheld meter, the technique Jonathan referred to is 'spot on' (forgive the pun!).
« Last Edit: September 30, 2007, 06:54:45 AM by jonstewart » Logged

Jon Stewart

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marcmccalmont
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« Reply #12 on: September 30, 2007, 12:32:33 PM »
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I forgot to add that I use manual focus and fixed white balance to minimize differences between frames. The match color adjustment in PS is sometimes necessary. I use either CS3 or PTGui depending on the stitch. Don't get too wraped up over the tripod I have stitched a few handhelds because a tripod wasn't with me.
Marc

Hand held:

[attachment=3433:attachment][attachment=3434:attachment]
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Marc McCalmont
Jonathan Wienke
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« Reply #13 on: September 30, 2007, 02:45:38 PM »
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That's a bit of a sweeping generalisation!

I have a handheld meter, and I can tell you (especially for pano's) it's much quicker to use than shoot and look, shoot and look, shoot and look! I meter highlight, shadow and midtone, and the meter averages it for me. It takes about 5-10 seconds.

That's not significantly faster than it takes me to shoot a "polaroid" or two and make adjustments based on the histogram. If you know your histogram, you can shoot one frame, adjust, and shoot a second just for confirmation that everything is as desired.
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jonstewart
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« Reply #14 on: September 30, 2007, 04:37:19 PM »
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That's not significantly faster than it takes me to shoot a "polaroid" or two and make adjustments based on the histogram. If you know your histogram, you can shoot one frame, adjust, and shoot a second just for confirmation that everything is as desired.
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=142964\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

Fine, but we're not talking about you.

I was just offering an alternative method to a poster in the beginners forum. Unless s/he tries both methods they'll not know which works better for them, and in what situation it works better.

I still think handheld metering is faster, especially when the camera is set up on a pano rail, which of course is unlikely to have a quick release.
« Last Edit: September 30, 2007, 04:38:29 PM by jonstewart » Logged

Jon Stewart

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Thomas Krüger
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« Reply #15 on: October 01, 2007, 01:43:41 AM »
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I'm often using my good old Gossen Spotmaster 1 in the field to measure for 360° panorama shots.
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Wayne Fox
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« Reply #16 on: October 09, 2007, 07:55:29 PM »
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I'm a firm believer in the "expose to the right" paradigm, so I prefer using the histogram, mainly because then I don't have to figure out what spot is the brightest spot to read.  If you happen to pick the wrong area to read you can end up with an area that is blown out.

There seems to be some occasions that the meter wouldn't be as effective as the histogram - I admit they are probably rare, but a slow exposure of moving water comes to mind.  Usually the highlight occurs somewhere in the fastest part of the water, but it's hard to measure that with a meter.

If I practiced with the meter, I'd probably get a lot better, and might find it's faster.   It would be nice to nail it.  Maybe I'll start trying a hybrid of the two.  The problem with the in camera meter is it is almost always off by quite a bit ...  often more than a stop, usually meaning 2 captures to nail the exposure.  Narrowing the starting point with the spot meter may speed things up.
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Eric Myrvaagnes
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« Reply #17 on: October 09, 2007, 11:49:14 PM »
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For close to forty years I did almost all my exposures with a Pentax 1 degree spotmeter. After I switched to digital and learned how to read a histogram, I have never used the spotmeter (or my Lunapro) once.
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-Eric Myrvaagnes

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BernardLanguillier
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« Reply #18 on: October 10, 2007, 08:56:24 AM »
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For close to forty years I did almost all my exposures with a Pentax 1 degree spotmeter.
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=145014\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

Thanks for making me feel young Eric.

Cheers,
Bernard

p.s.: I have the pentax 1 degree spot meter too...
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Eric Myrvaagnes
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« Reply #19 on: October 10, 2007, 09:45:37 AM »
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Thanks for making me feel young Eric.

Cheers,
Bernard

p.s.: I have the pentax 1 degree spot meter too...
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=145087\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]
I bet you use yours sometimes, too, Bernard. Your work always shows a degree of care that some of us old geezers are too impatient to use. At pushing 70 I figure I've got not much more than another forty years of photography, so I've got to get the good pictures quick.    

I take my spotmeter out from time to time just to make sure it works. I can't bring myself to sell it, since it has been my soulmate for so long.

Regards,

Eric
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-Eric Myrvaagnes

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