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D300 and Exposure

Discussion in 'Nikon DX DSLR Forum' started by DebbieZ, Sep 17, 2008.

  1. DebbieZ


    Feb 27, 2007
    Last week I attended a photography workshop in the mountains in Colorado. The instructor wanted everything on Manual. We shot images throughout the day from sunrise to after sunset as well as inside. He wanted us using spot metering. I had a terrible time not overexposing everything. The push was towards landscapes and there sure was a lot of light sky. I kept metering off of the sky, but then much of the rest of my image was very dark. It seemed that my settings varied greatly from others using Olympus and Canon. I have now been reading whatever I can get my hands on regarding exposure. In a situation where you have bright sky and then lots of dark mountains or green trees what is the best way to meter for exposure on this camera? Does the D300 tend to overexpose? Is spot metering the best, or would matrix have been more accurate? I came away very frustrated and I might add that the instructor was not helpful at all in respect to these issues. He kept telling me to look at my image on my LCD to determine if I was getting it right! Believe it or not, he did not want to get into histograms.....because it would confuse everyone! How in the world do you get a true view of an image on your LCD in the middle of the day with no shade? Needless to say, I am working on understanding my Histogram.

  2. If you are going to shoot a lot of landscapes with sky, you will need several variations of graduated neutral density filters. The top half cuts the sky back a couple of stops and leaves the bottom half open. The affect is normally quite striking and pleasing.
  3. Hi, Debbie. Images that include very bright things and very dark things are said to have a wide dynamic range, and they are very difficult for a camera to deal with. If you meter for the sky, the trees will be silhouettes, but if you meter for the trees, the sky will be overexposed. There are several solutions... and none of them are simple.

    1. As Norm suggested, you could use a graduated neutral density filter to darken the sky, narrowing the dynamic range of the composition.

    2. You could choose a midrange setting, that slightly overexposes the sky and slightly underexposes the trees. Then you could apply selective levels adjustments in Photoshop, brightening the trees and darkening the sky.

    3. You could take two pictures. In the first, expose for the sky. In the second, expose for the trees. Then you could blend the pictures in Photoshop.
  4. Ron H

    Ron H

    Jul 5, 2005
    Hi Debbie,

    It sounds like a very frustrating experience, and the instructor could have been much more helpful. Expecting the class to shoot completely manually while using spot metering (the most difficult mode to use) - without giving thorough instruction - is not good leadership.

    The advice given above is very good, and there are times that a scene will have a greater dynamic range than any camera is capable of capturing. The photographer then has some decisions to make about what is most important in the scene. And sometimes it's possible to minimize (or even eliminate) the sky from the scene.

    I do find that the D300 is better at capturing such scenes than the D70 was, and that for general landscape Matrix or center-weighed is better than spot.
    Actually, Matrix does quite well. Despite what the instructor said, checking the histogram is very important in such scenes, and compensating if necessary.

    Hang in there.
  5. I think (presume) you intended to relay your personal experiance that matrix or center is better than spot for landscape shooting,.

    just wanted to say that whatever exposure mode you select it can work equally well if you understand how it works and how to make best use of it,.

    spot metering is great, as is matrix, as is center weighted,. it's upto the driver and their preference as to which is 'best'
  6. DebbieZ


    Feb 27, 2007
    Thanks for all of the replies and suggestions. I will definitely follow up on all of them. Many of them are consistent with what I have been reading. I did keep asking him to make suggestions based on my Histogram, but he just kept insinuating that something was wrong with my camera. I do understand a little about my Histogram, but with the other parameters, I could not keep it from bunching up to the right and blowing the highlights. Reading a histogram is the sort of information that I would have expected to learn from my $800 workshop....LOL! At least it makes me feel better about myself and my camera to read your suggestions and observations. I am really wondering if I was more or less on an impossible mission? I am wishing that I had asked this question here the very first day and maybe I would have gotten better images in spite of the instructor.....learn and live to shoot another day, I guess!

  7. rgordin


    Jun 3, 2008
    Washington, DC
    How much does ADR help in a situation like this?
  8. dkabat


    Aug 10, 2005
    Minden, Nevada
    Hi Debbie - when I first started had a heck of a time figuring out exposure, After reading Brian Peterson's book as well as others and takong a Nikonians class on exposure I found that manual was the best for me. I understood what manual spot was telling me and could therefore expose for whatever subject I wanted rather than having the camera think of what I wanted for a subject. Another advantage I found was that when I used A or S I would ignore the other variable, many times to my detriment. Now I am forced to look at all 3 exposure factors each time and decide what is most important for me.

    Now I princiaplly use manual and spot but will often change based on subjects. A little pain initially but I find that I can now get in 1/3 stop of where I want to be 80-90% of the time.

    Be patient and luck
  9. lovemy8514

    lovemy8514 Guest

    How often do other shooters go above or below center when using the camera metering, even in spot?

    I find that most of the time when I meter off of a subject in spot metering, I still have to adjust my shutter speed so that the meter is somewhere above or below center to get the exposure right.

    Is this common for others too?
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