Is knowledge of exposure still relevant?


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jpcc

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Mar 29, 2004
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#1
Well, just acting as a devil's advocate :think: :blah: :bsmilie:

With the advent of {digital}, i.e. instant gratification ;
and {auto exposure bracketing}, would it be less important to
learn exposure in outdoor photography.

ok, i agree that capturing the Bresson's decisive moment is
an admirable feat whereby a good foundation is required.

But just that, well, if we spare a little thought for the majority
of say 80% shooters, most can take a decent exposure shot
when bracketing +1, 0, -1.

And with the help of printers, exposure is less a concern now.
As compared to 70s, or 80s, when salon photography, light
and shadow rules....

issit??

(ok, to tone down the troll index, I will exclude studio, sports
and those spur of a moment, e.g. leaping over a puddle of water)
 

clive

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#2
of coz u still need 2 knoe what kind of exposure values can roughly apply to the kind of scene u come across

if say u r at a candlelight ballroom party and somebody hands u a manual camera and if u go ahead n dail in settings like ISO200, f8 1/500 then i will be ROFLMAO :bsmilie:
 

#3
To make a cup of good coffee, you need to know how much coffee powder, sugar and hot water to mix. Too much or too little of any ingredients will spoil it. However one man's meat may be another man's poison so it also depends on the kind of coffee powder you prefer. :)
 

ST1100

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#4
jpcc said:
But just that, well, if we spare a little thought for the majority
of say 80% shooters, most can take a decent exposure shot
when bracketing +1, 0, -1.
Don't you see - the very act of shooting at +1, 0, -1 *requires* an understanding of exposure principles. (And digital processing knowhow to piece the 3 exposures together.)

i agree though that for the 'dummy' p&s style, knowledge of exposure is not impt. Today's auto cameras can handle majority of situations. These, however, are the same people who have no concept of aperture and shutter speed, so i wonder if you can rightly call them 'photographers' where technical expertise is concerned.

In clive's example, i doubt many photogs can guess the correct ambient exposure in a candlelit ballroom within 1 stop accuracy. That's about the leeway you get for a decent photo with negatives. With slides, a third stop out can ruin the pic.
 

justarius

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#5
Without a basic knowledge of exposure how can you control creative effects like DOF, shutter blur, etc. Without a basic knowledge, I don't think you can be called a photographer. You are just a person with a smart camera. The camera's the one taking the picture, not you.
 

coke21

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#6
You don't necessarily always want the "correct" exposure, sometimes you want it over or under exposed. So that does mean you still need soem basic knowledge. But of cos without it, you won't die, know of people who have SLRs but they shoot in P mode ALL the time...go figure...:)
 

jpcc

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er yes, manual camera.

But I would understand this:
1) candlelight = indoor , low-light
2) no flash -> unless using wide angle or rangefinder (or both) with
big aperture, methinks it is not easy to shoot a decent shot.

Regarding this thread, I am thinking more of those old-skool (OS) photogs
versus those new-kids (NK) using the latest digi-cam with
auto-exp-bracketing.

Most OS would say the true skill of a photog is to look at the exposure.
But all current cameras include a 80% lightmeter. The better ones had
spotmeter. So the tools are there for NK.
If still unsure, bracket.
(now dun tell me OS do not bracket)

Somemore, with digicam, bracketing doesn't cost any extra.
So what gives?

Does intimate understanding of exposure (of what OS emphasized) still relevant?

I think the trilogy (?) of Ansel Adams {The camera, film, print} takes
post processing into consideration for the knowledge of exposure.
However, in land-scarce Singapore, it is very difficult to allocate a
darkroom in our living quarters. Furthermore, with the advent of
convenient photo processing shops and even digital capture, the
post processing control is relinquished to trusted third party, or machine.

I.e. if we look at it this way, assuming film as input.
I. pre-shoot
1) determine light
2) choose film speed
3) check light meter
4) set aperture, shutter speed
5) click

II. Process
1) load film into tank
2) control temperature of water
3) pour chemicals
4) develope, mix, agitate, fix, whatever
5) dry film

III. Print
enlarger, timer, easel, blah, blah, blah

Anyway, regarding the three big process as outlined above, most (singapore)
photogs have relinquished control of II and III to shops.

So practically, we are only control 1/3 of it.

With AEB, lotsa of photog may not need to be as well schooled as the OS...
 

justarius

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#9
jpcc said:
er yes, manual camera.

But I would understand this:
1) candlelight = indoor , low-light
2) no flash -> unless using wide angle or rangefinder (or both) with
big aperture, methinks it is not easy to shoot a decent shot.

Regarding this thread, I am thinking more of those old-skool (OS) photogs
versus those new-kids (NK) using the latest digi-cam with
auto-exp-bracketing.

Most OS would say the true skill of a photog is to look at the exposure.
But all current cameras include a 80% lightmeter. The better ones had
spotmeter. So the tools are there for NK.
If still unsure, bracket.
(now dun tell me OS do not bracket)

Somemore, with digicam, bracketing doesn't cost any extra.
So what gives?

Does intimate understanding of exposure (of what OS emphasized) still relevant?

I think the trilogy (?) of Ansel Adams {The camera, film, print} takes
post processing into consideration for the knowledge of exposure.
However, in land-scarce Singapore, it is very difficult to allocate a
darkroom in our living quarters. Furthermore, with the advent of
convenient photo processing shops and even digital capture, the
post processing control is relinquished to trusted third party, or machine.

I.e. if we look at it this way, assuming film as input.
I. pre-shoot
1) determine light
2) choose film speed
3) check light meter
4) set aperture, shutter speed
5) click

II. Process
1) load film into tank
2) control temperature of water
3) pour chemicals
4) develope, mix, agitate, fix, whatever
5) dry film

III. Print
enlarger, timer, easel, blah, blah, blah

Anyway, regarding the three big process as outlined above, most (singapore)
photogs have relinquished control of II and III to shops.

So practically, we are only control 1/3 of it.

With AEB, lotsa of photog may not need to be as well schooled as the OS...
I would think that with the advent of digital photography and photography editing software, photographers have more control over all three processes (shoot/process/print) than before with greater convenience, and not less. Ask around and you will see the number of people who process and print their own images (and this also includes film shooters who scan their negatives).

If you think auto exposure bracketing is the be-all-and-end-all of photography, I'm sorry to say that you are sadly mistaken. I reiterate in saying that without a basic knowledge of exposure (shutter speed, aperture and ISO), you cannot get the desired effect you want. Without a knowledge of exposure, you will not know the required compensation needed when you use a spot meter. The only things you will be taking with auto exposure bracketing are well exposed pictures. And any photographer can tell you that exposure is only a small part of the picture.

Have a nice day. :D
 

bsplenden

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#10
ST1100 said:
In clive's example, i doubt many photogs can guess the correct ambient exposure in a candlelit ballroom within 1 stop accuracy. That's about the leeway you get for a decent photo with negatives. With slides, a third stop out can ruin the pic.
hmm... how to guess the correct exposure within 1 stop accuracy? by experience? :dunno:
 

clive

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#11
yupz, u got to have "been there done that" so that u can slowly accumulate a memory bank of "exposure settings" . for the "average" candlelight ballroom party, its gonna be "roughly" somethign like ISO800, f2.8, 1/8 @ 35mm without flash, and the error may be up to 2 stops.. of coz u can go in without prior knowledge of "such & such" exposure settings in mind..and like what ur dear friend AdamGoi said, u will simply have to spend more time to "eureka!" on the preferred settings ;-)

anyway the whole idea is : yes, u can indeed survive in this modern era without a good grasp of exposure, but since exposure concepts are fundamental to photography, its generally recommended that with a good grasp of exposure concepts, u will be able to achieve more in photography.

analogy: lets regress to secondary school maths: remember what is differentiation? d/dx (x^2) = 2x+c

but do u actually understand why d/dx (x^2) = 2x+c ?
u can go on and be able to differentiate any equation that is thrown at u...but without understandign the definition of the Limit as defined by Newton, doign differentiation is just a going-thru-motion exercise ;-)
 

jpcc

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#12
Maybe I didn't express it clearly,
1. I refer "knowledge of exposure" as the ability to know lighting condition
and able to compensate before you click the shutter.
Not when you post-process.

2. AEB is not a panacea. But NK photogs will use it more than the OS.
Or rather OS will brag that they need only one click rather than multiple
clicks by NK.

3. The start of this thread is to compare OS with NK. As such, mentioning
digital post processing is in itself, blasphemous to OS.

Btw, how can one know the results in stage II?
When one decides to push or pull process in development, one is only
taking a calculated guess/ risk that the whole roll turns fine. :eek:

Printing, again, lotsa trial and error.

(I believe) Even Ansel Adams has done a lot of **** work before he has
a satisfied moon and half dome...... :sweat:

Anyway, errrrr, justarius, I don't agree that scanning negative is similar
to processing or printing. It is another archiving process.
There is no change in content, it is only a change in the storage medium.
What the user can do is dust removal, and possibly an ability to
post-process in photoshop at a later stage. :nono:

But again, that deviates from the purity of OS philosophy, doesn't it? :)
(ok, i know that OS darkroom work is not really that pure in that with
montage, dodge n burn..., the content can be distorted, i.e. there is
a loss in content integrity. But well, digital just makes it so much easier....)

Frankly, when we mention processing and printing, I have some reservations:
1) are you using colour or B&W film (I would say 95% will agree B&W)
2) how do you dispose your chemicals, in a socially responsible way?
3) do you build a darkroom in your own house or use from cc, or photo club?
4) Do you think 80% of the passionate NK photogs are able to either
build a darkroom or lease one and afford enough time for such tinkering.
5) Self-devt and printing is not cheaper.
Printing is fun, I have no doubt abt it , but devt, not really so.... :cry:
One really needs passion to do such OS work lor.

I don't know, call me ignorant or a pessimist. When we are using cassette
tape, DAT or record, audiophiles would pride themselves in locating the
track they wanted in a tried and tested way. With CD, it is a press of
button. Yes, we can still argue that record has the warmth that CD (or SACD
for the purist to debate) will never reach. But one scan at Harvey
Norman, Best Denki, blah, blah, blah, I would say 80% (critical mass,
overwhelming majority) will prefer a fwd button to advance a track than
locating it with a needle.

Btw, I am not advocating AEB, or purveyor of total ignorance in exposure,
I am starting an honest extrapolation that, maybe, with a faster product
obsolescence and the quicker pace a society marches on,
the good old days of learning perfect exposure by
shoot/develop/print one hundred rolls of Tri-X/FM2/Xtol/RC is less plausible
(errrrr, and proceed to shoot/dev/print another hundred rolls of
Tri-X/FM2/Xtol/FB) :devil:

Will you do it? ;p

PS1: maybe I should have set it clear in the first place that
mastering exposure is akin to using the zone system in the field.

PS2: correction on Ansel's triglogy. It should be
"The camera", "The negative", "The print".
 

justarius

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#13
Let me elaborate: Film user uses film and camera to take picture. 'The camera'. Developes negative, scans in negative, adjust grain, tonality etc. 'The negative'. Do post processing, dodging/burning as required. 'The print'. FYI, one can still do post processing using digital techniques even when one is shooting film. This is akin to Ansel Adam's darkroom and printing, except more high tech.

Anyway, I fail to see how one can separate photographers into NK and OS just on basis of equipment they are using. A lot of experienced photographers are using digital, some new entrants are shooting MF SLRs. :dunno: In fact, I fail to see the point of the whole thread. Are you asking opinions on how digital newbies are ignoring the fundamentals of exposure? Or how experienced photographers differ from not so experienced ones?
 

jimtong

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#14
It took me some times to understand what this thread is trying to discuss :sweat:

Maybe I just contribute my 2cents.

After reading your the post, it seems that there are 2 seperate issues which were discussed as 1 single issue:
Issue #1: Is "proper exposure" still relevant in pre-process since we can do it in the post-process and with AEB.
Issue #2: The film workflow and digital workflow

Maybe I will seperate this 2 issues for easier discussion

Issue #1
So Is "proper exposure" still relevant in pre-process since we can do it in the post-process?
With the convenience of digicam, we are now able to see on the spot whether we are satisfied with the output,
if not happy, delete, re-shoot. We can even change various exposure mode like spot metering, matrix or centre-weight
even AEB and we can get immediate feedback on the LCD screen. This is something that is too expensive and time consuming in
traditional film camera/SLR. In your post, this group of ppl are categorised as NK -new kids as oppose to the OS
which study the light, decide on the metering, compose and shoot.

My answer is yes, it is still relevant in the pre-process.

1. It save time. Imagine if you took hundreds of photos and doing exposure correction post-process would takes times.
I will try to get things right the first time round and I will need less processing on PC. Remember you can't do batch exposure
correction in PS since different photo need diff parameters.

2. Not everything can be done by PS or other image tools. If you overexposed too much you lost detail, which is impossible
to get back.

3. Camera light meter are stupid. They will tends to be fool by extreme condition. In the end, it is still the photographer's
brain that need to do the work.

4. Sometime you need to purposely underexpose or overexpose to bring out certain effect. If you can do it during pre-process,
why not? It save you time from doing it in post-process.

5. In shooting event like fashion show, wedding or sport. you wil not have time to do AEB and looking at the LCD to review. you need to know off hand what type of exposure is required. But if shooting landscape, I admit that I do review my shot in the LCD screen sometime though :D .


Issue #2
First let me say that I dun have experience in processing my own photo in a darkroom.
I will not talk much about this issue. I might miss out something here. Feel free to correct me.

I disagree with your view that

Anyway, regarding the three big process as outlined above, most (singapore)
photogs have relinquished control of II and III to shops.

So practically, we are only control 1/3 of it.

With AEB, lotsa of photog may not need to be as well schooled as the OS...
Like what justarius has mentioned in the above post, photog actually have total control of
all three processes (shoot/process/print) than before with greater convenience. It depend on whether
the photog want to do it or not. My practice is to do it all myself in PS
and instruct the lab not to do any correction for me.

To me there is no much diff in traditional darkroom and digital darkroom in terms of objective and functionality, although
I love to learn darkroom technique if got chance :)


:think: Actually come to think of it, I dun like the idea of categorized photog into NK or OS, rather I think we should categorized
photog as "Skilled" or "Unskilled".

Skilled Photog: THINK -> POINT -> SHOOT
Unskilled Photog: POINT -> SHOOT

So the key word here is "THINK". You analyse the scene, compose, measure exposure, shoot. You will ended up with higher chance
of getting a good photo. And this apply to both film and digital user.

Bahman Farzad, author of the book "The Confused Photographer's Guide to On-Camera Spotmetering" said in his website:

There are two types of photographers:
The "point-and-shoot" crowd that trusts,
depends on, and follows the camera's vision
and those who trust themselves and
make the camera to follow
and capture their vision.
What separates the two is skill!
jpcc, I am not trying to challenge you but just to share my thought.

Sorry if I am too long winded or OT, din realised it util I have finished my last sentence. :embrass:
 

Witness

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#16
hmmm.....muz learn exposure..its part of the fun photography package...maybe next time our kids no need to know hahaa..
 

jpcc

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#17
Hi jimtong,
I think you've touch on some of the issues that I have in mind.

I am not a luddite, nor am I a technophile.

Maybe the title of the thread is too radical / controversial for
passionate photogs to stomach.

Anyway, I am not a NK nor am I an OS.
But I have seen my fair share of OS who hold bragging rights on
knowledge of exposures and insists that manaul focus is faster than AF. :embrass:
They believe B&W is classic purity with the highest resolution/ tone/ contrast in film history. They still believe battery is evil. They like the
control of whole process. Those are the OS.

I believe the digital age is still at a growing stage and there will be more
innovations and convenience that could have erode some of our
oft held golden rule of thumbs. (emmmm, dun quote me on this, I am
just speculating..... :) :bsmilie: )

I am thinking that my original aim of this thread may have been lost
after various different perspectives.

I would say a healthy debate is still a good thing for a forum.....

May the light b with you all......
 

ST1100

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#18
clive: d/dx (x^2) = 2x+c is wrong. There is no '+c' behind; that's only for integrating an indefinite integral. Just FYI, since i assume you're going back to skool after ORD.

path17: sorry, i don't know if you're following this thread closely - but how do you use sunny16 in a candle-lit ballroom with any measure of confidence? 'Coz that's what he was asking.
 

patch17

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#19
ST1100 said:
path17: sorry, i don't know if you're following this thread closely - but how do you use sunny16 in a candle-lit ballroom with any measure of confidence? 'Coz that's what he was asking.
i said it works for most situations. at any rate, imho, the rule gives an anchor or start point to shoot, it's up to the photographer to decide whether to use this point and bracket like mad. (btw, using ISO 800 film and your aperture wide open a f2.8, one gets an exposure of around 2 sec. for candle lit portraiture situation. it's a start point to bracket around. but it's pretty difficult to get someone to stand still for 2 or more sec in a party atmosphere.)

just my 2 bits.
 

Minoxman

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#20
If the camera comes with AE, use it. Knowing exposure basics is good however.
 

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