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Best way to photograph Swans and other white things?

Discussion in 'Help Team' started by Mad_Sunday, Jul 4, 2009.

  1. Mad_Sunday

    Mad_Sunday Member

    I'm having poor results (over/under exposed and poor definition) when trying to capture swans and white flowers. What is the best way to get good exposure and well defined shots?
  2. chr1s

    chr1s Well-Known Member

    use the historgram function on the camera to review your shots, then retake if over exposed/underexposed with a some exposure compensation dialled in.

    swans do tend to be awkward to shoot, as they can overexpose badly against a much darker background.

    you could also try spot (or partial) metering on the swan or white flower to ensure that part of the image atleast is exposed correctly.
  3. chr1s

    chr1s Well-Known Member

  4. benji

    benji Well-Known Member

    Generally, I tend to spot metre on the white/highlight areas and dial +1/3 or 1/2EV from that point (and let the shadows sort themselves out).

    I find it even more crucial to spot meter that way when shooting flowers (especially if not close-up).

    i.e: I get close to one of the actual flowers (esp. bright coloured ones), take a spot metre reading, add 1/3 or 1/2 EV approx. and keep this setting when I step back to shoot the whole lot from further away.
    When I don't do that and solely rely on the in-camera light-metre, the highlights end up over-exposed, which does not always show on the histogram on the camera's LCD display (simply because they happen to be too small to show on such a small display).

    Basically, if the white subject is quite proeminent within the frame, the in-camera light metre will be fairly accurate, but may fail to interpret the scene correctly if the highlight areas are spot-size. So, it's worth bearing that in mind.

    In any case, it's worth bracketting anyway because every situation is different.

    (P.S.: a pola filter can sometimes help even out the tonal range)
  5. Mad_Sunday

    Mad_Sunday Member

    I think I need to get a light meter then? Do I need to spend a lot of money or will one of the cheaper options be OK?
  6. AlexMonro

    AlexMonro Old Grand Part Deux

    Hi Pete,

    I see from the EXIF data in some of the other images that you've posted that you have an Olympus E-510. I beleive that Olympus are unique among DSLR manufacturers in implementing a highlight spot metering mode, which allows you to meter the exposure from the brightest highlight in the scene.

    This is probably the ideal tool for the job, so you may want to check your manual, page 46, Hi Spot metering.

    No need to buy an aditional light meter! :)
  7. Steve

    Steve Well-Known Member

    Ditto...on the light meter.

    I think I might be a bit weird with regards to tricky scenes. I don't actually use exposure compensation...ever. LOL.

    My technique, which people here probably think is quite inefficient, is to take a test shot then switch to full manual and adjust the exposure like that :D

    In other situations where it is easy to take a spot meter reading, I will do so...then lock the exposure there.

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