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Old 24-08-2006, 18:18   #1 (permalink)
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Metering using Filters

I read different ways to meter when using ND Grad filters so I wondered what others do?

Some say meter with the filter on and others say meter with it off

I have metered both ways and achieved inconsistent results..........more often than not you can tell a filter was used plus the more annoying one is I suffer with blown foregrounds

One thing that has puzzled me after metering for the foreground with the filter off is that when the filter is fitted the meter then shows things to be slightly underexposed So do I expose again or ignore what the meter is showing?

I do check my Histogram but it is not always easy to see.

Have I made any sense
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Old 24-08-2006, 18:51   #2 (permalink)
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Re: Metering using Filters

I've always metered with no filter first (or my trusty Western Master v) if using a graduated filter. If you meter with the filter on, surely it would not underexpose the sky (if you are using it that way up) and at the same time it would overexpose the foreground. (unless you had a really demon matrix exposure system that would cancel out the effect of the filter). The idea here is to correctly expose the foreground, but reduce the exposure the sky gets, thus bringing out more detail, or reducing the burn out.

ND's are a different kettle of fish. (not graduated ND's). If you meter with them off, the exposure will be under exposed. I thought tha idea with ND's was to allow you to use larger apatures/slower shutter speeds in bright conditions. You are effectively fooling the meter into 'thinking' there is less light than there actually is. The meter will correctly expose the scene which has had the dimmer applied to the sun!
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Old 24-08-2006, 19:02   #3 (permalink)
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Re: Metering using Filters

P-E, if you thought your post may not have made sense, what did you think of that one?
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Old 24-08-2006, 19:04   #4 (permalink)
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Re: Metering using Filters

The real question is, what if you are using a 'whole' ND AND a grad? I'd go for meter with the 'whole' one on, then add the grad.
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Old 24-08-2006, 19:27   #5 (permalink)
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Re: Metering using Filters

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Originally Posted by Dabhand16 View Post
P-E, if you thought your post may not have made sense, what did you think of that one?


I use mainly Grad ND Hard and Soft.
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Old 24-08-2006, 19:35   #6 (permalink)
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Re: Metering using Filters

I'd meter both with no filter or use a seperate meter. A grad is a way of applying a burn to the sky in the camera.

QED
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Old 24-08-2006, 19:42   #7 (permalink)
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Re: Metering using Filters

slightly , but you can always recreate a ND grad effect within PS using a graduated layer mask between an exposed shot for sky & exposed shot for land
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Old 24-08-2006, 19:46   #8 (permalink)
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Re: Metering using Filters

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dabhand16 View Post
I'd meter both with no filter or use a seperate meter. A grad is a way of applying a burn to the sky in the camera.

QED
Will give it a go next time.

I often stick an ND Grad on, take a shot then check for any highlight warnings along with the histogram.
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Old 24-08-2006, 19:46   #9 (permalink)
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Re: Metering using Filters

The way I meter when using ND graduated filters is to take two readings, one from the sky and one from the foreground, then the differences is what level of graduated filter I require to balance the picture. I set the camera manually to the reading I attained from the foreground reading, use the filter and nearly always get a good exposure.

I also shoot in raw so that it also leaves me with a +/- 2 stop safety net on occasions where the scene has been particularly difficult to meter correctly.

The other thing to remember when you are using graduated ND filters to hold back the sky is that 9 times out of 10 in a well exposed photo the sky is approximately 1 to 2 stops brighter than the foreground, so when calculating the filter strength allow for that too, unless you are after a special effect.

HTH
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Old 24-08-2006, 19:49   #10 (permalink)
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Re: Metering using Filters

Re-reading the last bit of my post above I thought I should clarify...

Even with the graduated filter your result should leave the sky approximately +1 to2 stops brighter than the foreground to make the picture appear natural.

This is obviously a rule of thumb though and rules are meant to be broken in the name of creativity.
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Old 24-08-2006, 20:08   #11 (permalink)
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Re: Metering using Filters

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The other thing to remember when you are using graduated ND filters to hold back the sky is that 9 times out of 10 in a well exposed photo the sky is approximately 1 to 2 stops brighter than the foreground, so when calculating the filter strength allow for that too, unless you are after a special effect.
If a RAW image holds 5 stop worth of exposure, if you expose for the land you have 2.5 stops worth of exposure left for say the sky. This means from a RAW image you can open a perfectly exposed shot for the land, plus one for the sky. Using a grad layer mask you can then achieve exactly what the grad filter does, but with a lot more control plus no hassle of using filters ?

I would even go as far to say if the sky was more than 2 stops difference from land, you could underexpose original capture, to give more stops data in RAW to play with on the lighter side of the exposure ?

What do you think ?
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Old 24-08-2006, 20:11   #12 (permalink)
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Re: Metering using Filters

Playing devils advocate to my own statement now, I remember reading a normal landscape shot can have the equivalent of 10 stops worth of dynamic range, so maybe the filter does it have it's place after all
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Old 24-08-2006, 20:11   #13 (permalink)
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Re: Metering using Filters

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dave View Post
What do you think ?
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Old 24-08-2006, 20:13   #14 (permalink)
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Re: Metering using Filters

You will probably find a tool to assist in the decision making in your pocket!!
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Old 24-08-2006, 20:32   #15 (permalink)
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Re: Metering using Filters

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dave View Post
If a RAW image holds 5 stop worth of exposure, if you expose for the land you have 2.5 stops worth of exposure left for say the sky. This means from a RAW image you can open a perfectly exposed shot for the land, plus one for the sky. Using a grad layer mask you can then achieve exactly what the grad filter does, but with a lot more control plus no hassle of using filters ?

I would even go as far to say if the sky was more than 2 stops difference from land, you could underexpose original capture, to give more stops data in RAW to play with on the lighter side of the exposure ?

What do you think ?
You are right in that the dynamic range of the shot can and usually does far exceed the +/- 2 stops of latitude that you can typically recover when using a raw image. What that doesn’t take into account is that every little bit of underexposed image that you have to drag back introduces more noise, obviously at small amounts the noise is also very small and for most of us it is unnoticeable, however you are still degrading the shot. Learning to meter correctly and set up the equipment to capture the detail without over exposing and blowing out the highlights will always result is a better shot than one which has to be manipulated at a later stage. That is why to get the absolute best results you should expose to the right to capture the most amount of data.

The other point is that noise is often much more noticeable in one specific colour channel, as a mono fanatic you will appreciate how important it is for the best quality conversions that you have noise free colour channels to work with as a base for your conversions. Black and white images are not the most forgiving when it comes to noise.
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Old 24-08-2006, 21:12   #16 (permalink)
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Re: Metering using Filters

OK so.......

I expose for the foreground then the sky (in manual mode?)......

Use the exposure reading for the foreground.....I am OK so far.

I mount the Grad ND but then the meter reading often shows that the shot will be slightly underexposed

Do I ignore the reading?
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Old 24-08-2006, 21:26   #17 (permalink)
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Re: Metering using Filters

Simple answer...yes

Long answer...providing you have calculated correctly the differences between the foreground and the sky and factored in the allowance for exposing the sky with a + 1 to 2 stop difference to the foreground.

If you are having trouble with getting the exposure correct its always a good idea to bracket your shots as well.
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Old 24-08-2006, 21:30   #18 (permalink)
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Re: Metering using Filters

Yes. The meter will have taken account of a proportion of the sky, unless you are in spot mode and the meter is looking well below the ND transition. Even centre weighting may 'see' some sky, depending on how far down you have the gradient. Think of it like you have a subject in front of a window. You open up to correctly expose the subject, but the meter will be telling you that it is way over exposed. Imagine a spot reading of a face, then without moving the camera, switch to matrix. That is the same thing as exposing for the forground and ignoring the effect the sky is having.
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Old 24-08-2006, 21:33   #19 (permalink)
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Re: Metering using Filters

I have just had another thought....if you are stacking filters you could well be having the issue due to this.

Stacking a 2 stop and a 1 stop filter does not make a 3 stop filter...you did know that?
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Old 24-08-2006, 21:35   #20 (permalink)
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Re: Metering using Filters

Quote:
Originally Posted by Steve View Post
Simple answer...yes
I think this is my problem as I didn't ignore it and would increase the exposure resulting in a blown foreground.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Steve View Post
If you are having trouble with getting the exposure correct its always a good idea to bracket your shots as well.
I was going to ask if it would be advisible to bracket .

Well thanks all for all the advice, much appreciated
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Old 24-08-2006, 21:37   #21 (permalink)
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Re: Metering using Filters

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Originally Posted by Steve View Post
I have just had another thought....if you are stacking filters you could well be having the issue due to this.

Stacking a 2 stop and a 1 stop filter does not make a 3 stop filter...you did know that?
Should this go into the 'did you know' thread?
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Old 24-08-2006, 21:40   #22 (permalink)
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Re: Metering using Filters

Quote:
Originally Posted by Steve View Post
I have just had another thought....if you are stacking filters you could well be having the issue due to this.

Stacking a 2 stop and a 1 stop filter does not make a 3 stop filter...you did know that?
Very much a noob with filters Steve.
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Old 24-08-2006, 21:44   #23 (permalink)
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Re: Metering using Filters

Just another thought and this might be totally wrong....

If I have selected centre focus point would I be better selecting one lower down on the focus screen?

My heads spinning now.
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Old 24-08-2006, 21:54   #24 (permalink)
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Re: Metering using Filters

Well if you are taking two readings then I would use center point. Make sure the reading for the foreground is done with very little sky in the frame...and no sky at all if the 'bright point' is in the lower section of the sky.
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Old 24-08-2006, 22:00   #25 (permalink)
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Re: Metering using Filters

If you do this, that is, meter from the foregound only, (ignoring the filter for now), the sky would get more exposure than if you used a matrix pattern. reason being is that on matrix, the overall exposure is an average of all of the metered sections. This would, of course, include the sky. (Assuming the sky is the lightest element of the picture). Thus if you cut the sky out of the metering process, the lightest part of the composition is not contributing to the exposure. When you then put your grad on, the sky will then be exposed more than if you allowed it to contribute to the exposure initially, becaus the spot metering will hve not taken the sky into account.

Hope this makes sense. I'm not being very clear here. But I know what I mean

Bottom line is try metering with no filter and ignore it after fitting the filter. Years ago, the trick was to meter the brightest part of your picture, then the darkest. You then set the median, and if you wanted to bracket, the upper and lower values were the parameters.
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Old 24-08-2006, 22:04   #26 (permalink)
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Re: Metering using Filters

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dabhand16 View Post
Hope this makes sense. I'm not being very clear here. But I know what I mean
You are doing fine Graham
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Old 25-08-2006, 00:00   #27 (permalink)
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Re: Metering using Filters

I usually just meter for the foreground without the filter and then add the filter. Nine times out of 10 it's pretty close.
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Old 25-08-2006, 00:10   #28 (permalink)
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Re: Metering using Filters

We both can't be wrong!
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Old 25-08-2006, 00:13   #29 (permalink)
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Re: Metering using Filters

Quote:
Originally Posted by dod View Post
I usually just meter for the foreground without the filter and then add the filter. Nine times out of 10 it's pretty close.
So no metering for the sky then.

Nine times out of ten would do for me
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Old 25-08-2006, 08:33   #30 (permalink)
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Re: Metering using Filters

But if you do it that way how do know what stop grad to use to get correct exposure?
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