"Understanding Exposure" black and white .

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I recently bought the book " Understanding Exposure " on the advice of one of the threads here and have a question on it .
I have read online statements that for white subjects you add 2 stops of exposure and for black subjects you go -2 . In his book he states that 18% gray is the normal ''average'' while black reflects 9% of light and white reflects 36% which is one stop either way .
So he says for a black cat you set -1 and for snow +1 .
Was the statement about 2 stops either way wrong ?
If I had a subject up against a white wall and wanted it to look white how many stops adjustment would I make after metering from the wall - or is this one of those it depends answers ?
 
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Neither is right or wrong as far as I can tell. Depending on the situation, it can be 1 or 2 stops. Have you ever read up on the zone system? I've seen some good results of people metering blacks that they want to have detail in and putting it in zone III. From there, check the other zones and adjust exposure if needed.
 
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Very much depends on the specific instance. Some white walls reflect more light than others and will look "more white" to the camera. Also angle of attack matters since the wall might be reflecting light right at you from a specific source depending on where you're standing.

I'm assuming you're talking about spot metering the wall as well. If you have a white wall and black subject in Matrix metering it might hit the exposure pretty close since it'll average them out. Your best bet is to guess, fire a shot, check histogram, adjust, and fire again.

Reading the book will still do less than actually trying the things you read out. Grab the camera and a black subject and see what works out in that case for you. That'll give you some good ideas on what to "guess" first.
 
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Desmond,

The exposures you quote other than the reflectivity of an 18% neutral gray card must be interpreted wuithin the author's theme of "creative exposure". These are not absolutes. The exposures which you quoted are based upon the author's perception of how he wanted to expose the subject with its foreground and background and composition.

Exposure is relative.

Good luck,
Tom
 
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Thanks for the replies , it sounds very much like one of those "depends on many variables " answers where I should just stick with learning to meter the dominant light coorectly . I'm on one of my ''missions'' , this time it is all about trying to ' meter the lighting correctly before taking the first shot and getting it as accurate as possible for the least amount of fiddling afterwards '
 
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Thanks for the replies , it sounds very much like one of those "depends on many variables " answers where I should just stick with learning to meter the dominant light coorectly . I'm on one of my ''missions'' , this time it is all about trying to ' meter the lighting correctly before taking the first shot and getting it as accurate as possible for the least amount of fiddling afterwards '
For what it's worth, and since people tend to put a lot of stock into what he says, I read where Ansel Adams once said to, "expose for the highlights and let the shadows sort themselves out".
 
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For what it's worth, and since people tend to put a lot of stock into what he says, I read where Ansel Adams once said to, "expose for the highlights and let the shadows sort themselves out".
Now that's something I've been noticing a lot lately - all these HDR images [ which have their place and look cool sometimes ] , shadows adjustments , active D-lighting .... all have their place but when I look through prize winning pictures they all see to have one thing in common ; Dark shadows with little to no detail .
The shadows add their character to a picture [ unless of course you need to see everything for some reason like real estate pictures ] , I allowed myself to be put on the wrong track for a while by the D80 matrix metering which meters for shadows and blows out highlights . For a while I was thinking "this doesn't look right but how can the latest [back then ] camera that cost so much be wrong ?" .
Page through a national geographic - dark shadows , intentional motion blur , out of focus elements . many of the things we try to avoid can be used to add flavour to a photo . I've been placing too much faith in the capabilities of modern technology and not thinking about the basics .
 
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Desmond, one need not sacrifice one for the other. Now I know that digital does not have the dynamic range of medium format film but here's an old image - I picked this one since it's the only image I have with a black background posted up on my site. And this was an incident reading with a calibrated hand meter.

Subscribe to see EXIF info for this image (if available)
 
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Desmond, one need not sacrifice one for the other. Now I know that digital does not have the dynamic range of medium format film but here's an old image - I picked this one since it's the only image I have with a black background posted up on my site. And this was an incident reading with a calibrated hand meter.
]
Thanks for the input , I'm busy looking at options to buy a light meter for future reference .
 
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