Welcome to TIPsy Tuesday, my weekly posts of Tips to get better shots. Every Tuesday I will post a Tip on topics such as: camera functions, composition, coordinating, post processing and many many more. So if you haven’t as of yet, be sure to subscribe to the RSS feed. You don’t want to miss out on this great new series. And if you have ANY questions or suggestions please comment below. I promise I will get back to you, because this series is all about sharing and interaction.
Today’s Tip: Metering Your Light
Beginner or not, it is important to figure out the basics. How many of us have bought a DSLR camera and made plans to learn all about it but ended up leaving it on the Auto button? With so many buttons and menu items the camera can become an obstacle, IF you let it. You don’t need to feel defeated and resort to point and shoot. What you need is some tips to guide you through that obstacle we call the DSLR.
For today’s tip we are going to focus on metering. Metering is how the camera decides the lightness of the subject.
Let me set the scene: You are on vacation at the beach with your family. Hey, it’s cold here and I would do anything to be able to be on a warm beach, sun baking and … oh wait … where was I? Oh yes, your mission: You want to capture the cute scene in front of you of Billy and Betsy playing in the sand. Okay, more like Billy burying his little annoying sister but what is cuter than that? Leaving it on Auto you snap a few shots. The results are not what you envisioned but why? You notice that the background is way lighter and brighter than the kids and on closer examination you discover they have almost no defining features on their faces. Yes, we can tell they are on the beach, but how excited were they? Was Billy in complete bliss covering his little sister in sand? Can’t really tell.
But before you swear and throw that camera back in the closet, let’s explore WHY this was the result. The camera has a built in meter that measures light. There are different modes of metering and the basic mode used most times by the camera is the Evaluation mode. It automatically meters the entire scene within the camera’s viewfinder. But when the subject is backlit or in strong bright light the camera can’t compensate for these scenes and you end up with blown out whites and under exposed subjects. Spot metering is another mode and a life saver. [There are a few metering modes. Time to pull out your manual and read up on metering and what each one does. If you have any questions just leave me a comment. Have no fear. I live on my blog. I will be answering all the questions. Just wish I could do so from a nice warm beach!] When set in spot metering (or partial metering for Canon) you will have a cursor to move around the viewfinder. Place that over your subjects face and retake the shot.** The camera will meter off the subject instead of the entire scene and the results will be more in align with what you need it to be. Of course there are other ways to tweak this and next week I will talk about those but for now … get out there with your kiddos, stand them with strong light coming from behind and give this a try. You will be amazed with what a simple change on the camera will do.
**You can also align the cursor with the subject, push the shutter button half way down, hold it down and re-position the camera to compose the shot before taking the photo. I offer this because sometimes the subject is not aligned with the preset cursor locations in the viewfinder.
Have fun and I look forward to getting to know you as we venture down this road of ‘Tipsy’ Tuesday. Cheers!____________________________________________________
Deborah Chetwood is an award winning, published photographer in Austin, TX who specializes in stylized children's, senior's and glamour photography. To find out more about the artist click HERE.
Please visit our other website for information on the Texas Vogue: Contemporary Glamour.