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| Re: Lighting Ratios, beyond the numbers.... |
Peter Figen wrote:
but the histogram IS going to tell you more accurately where the limits of your sensor lie.
I would agree with you, except that the histogram DOES NOT (manufacturer's design) accurately tell you where the limits of your sensor lie. It has a 'safety factor' built in to it that varies between cameras. If it actually had the ability to give you the precise ends ... "SWEETNESS" and this wouldn't be the issue that it is. Also, when you are dealing with small areas such as the white trees, the histo doesn't provide sufficient information to let you know what their values are.
My Kodak SLR/C is sweet, in that it gives you individual RGB values wherever you place the LCD cursor. THAT lets you dial it in very nicely. With the SLR/C I can chimp & dial in an exposure to see my white point somewhere between 245 & 255 (if that's where I want it) and or see how much my shadows are blocking up (numerically) ... which I prefer much better than a meter. Sadly, I've not seen any other cameras that can do this. The SLR/C also has an option to show you a FULL HISTO or the regular one with the safety factor built in. Again, too bad other cameras don't have this functionality.
You are correct that the meter isn't going to expand or contract anything. A scene like this can easily exceed the range of the sensor. But the more accurately you can assess where an end point exists, the less clipping you'll unnecessarily lose on the other end. Leaving 3/4 - 2 stops (OEM design) off the right side side of the histo means that you'll lose more detail on the left when you have a scene that exceeds the sensor, blocking your shadow detail more than would otherwise be necessary. For some that 3/4 - 2 stops of headroom may not be important to them, for others, it is.
If a sensor will handle say 10 stops, and my scene is 12 stops, then I have some decisions to make. Knowing what my ambient light is AND knowing what my endpoints in the scene are provide information that I can use to decide which direction, and how much I want to move things. Conversely, if my scene is only 8 stops with a given lighting arrangement, then I know I can adjust my lighting to create some additional range (if I so choose), or I can stay in the "safe zone" of the histo. The meter doesn't change anything ... it just provides objective information for you to use in your decision making.
+1 @ bracketing as a strategy. Not an option on this one, as it was a multi-shot pano that I ripped off as fast as I could (thanks btw) to capture the fleeting light that I wanted. The shot was around a 30-40 minute study, wait & watch for the clouds to do their job. The exposure on this one was already established relative to incident (EV) readings and my SLR/C RGB values.
Since the key light was unchanging, it was the changing levels in the shadows that my meter was crucial for. It let me know when the shadows being created by the clouds were inside the range of the sensor would give me the lighting range that would fit in the sensor. Too dark and I block up more than I want, too light and I leave some range on the table.
If I had not had any changing light conditions to coordinate the shadows with, no biggie. But since they were variable, the meter was very helpful in letting me know when they were where I wanted them. In such lighting conditions, my adaptive vision is not trustworthy ... but my meter is much more objectively so.
I just find the ability to know my EV values, for both end points and range are highly valuable information. For others ... its just boring technical hoooey.