Photography forum: Photography 101: Metering modes

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Name: Dave Whitinger
Jacksonville, Texas (Zone 8b)
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dave
Sep 19, 2014 12:39 PM CST

Garden.org Admin

When I discovered metering modes, it made a huge difference in how I take photos, and the quality of them.

Metering is where you tell the camera which part of the frame it should consider when it decides what kind of exposure it should make.

If I'm taking a photo of a little insect on a flower, I use spot metering and I make sure the auto focus point is pointing exactly at the insect. Then the photo is perfectly exposed for the primary subject (the insect.)

I do the same if I'm taking a photo of a daylily in bright light. I make sure the daylily is the auto-focus point, and using spot metering I get a perfectly exposed daylily photo.

The default on the camera is usually a "center weighted average" where it tries to figure out an average exposure based on everything in the center of your photo. That's fine for most photos but it's not to have really fine control over the exposure in situations like this.
Name: Dave Whitinger
Jacksonville, Texas (Zone 8b)
Charter ATP Member Region: Texas Master Gardener: Texas Permaculture Raises cows I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database!
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dave
Sep 19, 2014 12:50 PM CST

Garden.org Admin

To show an example, I just now went outside (bright sunlight) and took these photos. In each case, the photo on the right is taken with Spot metering, and the left photo was taken with center-weighted averaging. No other camera settings were changed between photos. Open an image by clicking on it, and use your right and left arrows on your keyboard to switch between the photos.

Thumb of 2014-09-19/dave/7dfa38 Thumb of 2014-09-19/dave/2fdebc
Thumb of 2014-09-19/dave/5cb90a Thumb of 2014-09-19/dave/0c2ae3
Thumb of 2014-09-19/dave/8c2c80 Thumb of 2014-09-19/dave/edda8f

Notice on the left ones, the lighting is more washed out. On the right-side photos, the subject stands out much better against the background. This is hopefully a good demonstration of the power of spot metering.
Name: Marilyn
Greenwood Village, CO (Zone 5b)
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CDsSister
Sep 19, 2014 2:26 PM CST

I'm going to see if one of my cameras allow me to do meter mode.

I upgraded last year a tiny bit may have to see what deals Black Friday brings this year.

Name: Mother Raphaela
Holy Myrrhbearers Monastery NY (Zone 4b)
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MotherRaphaela
Sep 19, 2014 3:01 PM CST
dave said:When I discovered metering modes, it made a huge difference in how I take photos, and the quality of them.

Metering is where you tell the camera which part of the frame it should consider when it decides what kind of exposure it should make.

The default on the camera is usually a "center weighted average" where it tries to figure out an average exposure based on everything in the center of your photo. That's fine for most photos but it's not to have really fine control over the exposure in situations like this.


Dave -- first of all, thank you very much for jumping in here and helping us tyros out. Secondly, how can we tell whether our camera has the ability to use metering modes? At least in those words, my manual doesn't show anything. I have discovered, however, that it is possible to select shutter speeds and aperture values. I don't know enough to want to try that yet, but I'm wondering if metering modes has any relationship to this? MR

Name: Mother Raphaela
Holy Myrrhbearers Monastery NY (Zone 4b)
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MotherRaphaela
Sep 19, 2014 3:03 PM CST
P.S. Yes, I can definitely tell the difference between the photos you show as examples. It will be great to get to the point where I can fine-tune that much!
Name: Dave Whitinger
Jacksonville, Texas (Zone 8b)
Charter ATP Member Region: Texas Master Gardener: Texas Permaculture Raises cows I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database!
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dave
Sep 19, 2014 3:06 PM CST

Garden.org Admin

Shutter speed and aperture values are not related directly to metering.

@MotherRaphaela I'm sorry if I missed it elsewhere, but which camera do you have?
Name: Mother Raphaela
Holy Myrrhbearers Monastery NY (Zone 4b)
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MotherRaphaela
Sep 19, 2014 3:10 PM CST
Dave, I have a Canon PowerShot S5 IS with a 12X zoom lens (the rim says 6.0-7.2.0 mm 1.2.7-3.5 USM) MR
Name: Dave Whitinger
Jacksonville, Texas (Zone 8b)
Charter ATP Member Region: Texas Master Gardener: Texas Permaculture Raises cows I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database!
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dave
Sep 19, 2014 3:22 PM CST

Garden.org Admin

Page 78 of your manual shows how to switch metering modes. Here's the page:

http://www.manualslib.com/manual/24789/Canon-Powershot-S5-Is...
Name: Mother Raphaela
Holy Myrrhbearers Monastery NY (Zone 4b)
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MotherRaphaela
Sep 19, 2014 3:46 PM CST
Yes, you are right. There it is. That is where an index would be helpful. Oh my. I'll keep at this, but to be honest, I find the format very confusing. Maybe it's my trifocals! Whistling

What I'm going to have to do is copy it out in a format I don't find so confusing (or off-putting?). I don't know how to explain it, but truly, I look at the page (with 20/20 vision in both eyes) and it could almost be written in Mandarin. I think it's a good camera and I want to take good pictures, so I have to figure out how to get on with this! Sticking tongue out
Name: Dave Whitinger
Jacksonville, Texas (Zone 8b)
Charter ATP Member Region: Texas Master Gardener: Texas Permaculture Raises cows I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database!
Garden Ideas: Master Level Beekeeper Garden Sages Avid Green Pages Reviewer Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Plant Identifier
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dave
Sep 19, 2014 3:52 PM CST

Garden.org Admin

A lot of the terminology in photography is foreign and that makes it hard to understand until you start to get a little more comfortable with the new words they're using. Smiling
Name: Mother Raphaela
Holy Myrrhbearers Monastery NY (Zone 4b)
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MotherRaphaela
Sep 19, 2014 4:00 PM CST
I agree Thank You! I tip my hat to you. Now to work! You could call me Snow White, but right now I feel like Dopey! Whistling
Name: Rick Corey
Everett WA 98204 (Zone 8a)
Sunset Zone 5. Koppen Csb. Eco 2f
I helped beta test the first seed swap Plant and/or Seed Trader Seed Starter Region: Pacific Northwest Photo Contest Winner: 2014 Vegetable Grower
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RickCorey
Sep 19, 2014 5:14 PM CST
Sometimes I like blowing up the manual into large print using a Xerox machine with magnification. That gives me room to scribble marginal notes.

Or, if it's an online manual, I copy the text to some document format that I can edit.

Then I highlight and underline, or replace the phrases that make no sense to me with phrases that I THINK mean about the same thing.

User manuals are always written by the engineer that knows the most, for the new user who knows the least. I think that's too bad.

They should be written by a NEW USER who JUST NOW figured out how to do it right. Then that NEW USER can write in terms that NEW USERS would understand.

My school had a policy that some teaching assistants for introductory courses should NOT be grad students who are currently taking highly advanced courses for PhD candidates.

Some of the teaching assistants for intro courses were always chosen from among the freshmen who came close to failing the course, but figured it out in time to pass.

THEY are the only ones who understand how to explain the subject to someone who does not ALREADY understand it fully.





Name: Mother Raphaela
Holy Myrrhbearers Monastery NY (Zone 4b)
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MotherRaphaela
Sep 19, 2014 6:53 PM CST
RickCorey said:
...freshmen who came close to failing the course, but figured it out in time to pass.


That's me, Rick! At least the close to failing part. Whether I pass remains to be seen, but thankfully I'm not working for a degree! Big Grin (I always was allergic to anything that felt like school, but thereon hangs a tale...)

Making the manual larger and highlighting may help but it's also the way the pages are organized. With all the help I'm getting, I should be getting some better shots -- as soon as I figure out how to read and understand the directions! I'm all ears!

Take care. Looks as if it's getting late here, so for the rest -- tomorrow! Thumbs up MR
Name: Rick R.
near Minneapolis, MN zone 4a
I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Garden Sages The WITWIT Badge Garden Photography Region: Minnesota Plant Identifier
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Leftwood
Sep 19, 2014 9:29 PM CST
RickCorey said:They [manuals] should be written by a NEW USER who JUST NOW figured out how to do it right. Then that NEW USER can write in terms that NEW USERS would understand.


Only if said new user is proficient in technical writing. This is rarely the case, and what will happen is that key steps/information will be left out. The "student" will be stuck, with no recourse. The other "problem" is that with cameras, much like computer operating systems (e.g. Windows), there is often more than one way to produce the same desired effect. The method presented may not be the best one, and not offering other viable options is a disservice to the camera owner/student.

On the other hand, with verbal teaching, such missing information can be rectified on the spot. Questions can be asked.



Name: Marilyn
Greenwood Village, CO (Zone 5b)
Garden today. Clean next week.
Garden Procrastinator Region: Colorado Heucheras Region: Southwest Gardening Container Gardener Enjoys or suffers cold winters
Sempervivums Annuals Foliage Fan Herbs Garden Ideas: Level 2
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CDsSister
Sep 19, 2014 9:37 PM CST
Leftwood said:

Only if said new user is proficient in technical writing. This is rarely the case, and what will happen is that key steps/information will be left out. The "student" will be stuck, with no recourse. The other "problem" is that with cameras, much like computer operating systems (e.g. Windows), there is often more than one way to produce the same desired effect. The method presented may not be the best one, and not offering other viable options is a disservice to the camera owner/student.


I meant to comment this is all good information and I appreciate it. However, sometimes offering multiple answers serves to confuse the novice,
(I am easily confused) I remember my brother telling me stongly "just give me the best way" he was talking about driving routes but it fits here too.
[Last edited by CDsSister - Sep 19, 2014 9:39 PM (+)]
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Name: Mother Raphaela
Holy Myrrhbearers Monastery NY (Zone 4b)
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MotherRaphaela
Sep 20, 2014 7:07 AM CST
CDsSister said:
I remember my brother telling me stongly "just give me the best way" he was talking about driving routes but it fits here too.

Amen!

Name: Dirt
(Zone 5b)
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dirtdorphins
Sep 20, 2014 8:27 AM CST
dave said:When I discovered metering modes, it made a huge difference in how I take photos, and the quality of them.


I agree
Valuable tip Dave! Thank you for posting it and the examples.

Spot metering yields a big improvement for single subject/main subject photos. I made it my 'default'.

...and the sad but true and funny part is that I neglect to change it when I should because I don't remember how to do it, so when trying to capture combos of contrasting subjects I must focus on the lightest/brightest for a decent exposure. Still though, I have way too many pics of a black cat with overexposed flowers Hilarious!

Name: Mother Raphaela
Holy Myrrhbearers Monastery NY (Zone 4b)
Cat Lover Plant Lover: Loves 'em all! Container Gardener Garden Procrastinator Seed Starter Permaculture
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MotherRaphaela
Sep 20, 2014 8:57 AM CST
Leftwood said: Only if said new user is proficient in technical writing. This is rarely the case, and what will happen is that key steps/information will be left out. The "student" will be stuck, with no recourse. The other "problem" is that with cameras, much like computer operating systems (e.g. Windows), there is often more than one way to produce the same desired effect. The method presented may not be the best one, and not offering other viable options is a disservice to the camera owner/student.

On the other hand, with verbal teaching, such missing information can be rectified on the spot. Questions can be asked.

My problem is not understanding the need for "either/or" here. There is nothing wrong with a person's learning his craft, calling or business, whatever it is; in this place, how to operate a digital camera; in my place, how to live as an Orthodox Christian nun. There is also nothing wrong with that same person's learning how to communicate that craft, calling or business to outsiders in the language of his or her choice. While every group develops technical terms, groups that pride themselves on having terms that are esoteric, unable to be understood by "outsiders," do themselves a disservice. I have found that the best practitioners of every craft are almost always the ones able to explain themselves to "outsiders."

Don't worry, I'm not interested in anything here other than learning how to work my camera! MR
Name: Vickie
Elberfeld, Indiana, USA (Zone 6b)
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blue23rose
Oct 8, 2014 11:13 AM CST
I will have to play with the spot metering on my camera. Those pictures on the right are definitely better.

The only problem I have when I change a setting on my camera is when I want to take a picture in an entirely different surrounding, I forget to change something back. Sometimes even knowing I changed a setting, but forgetting what it was Smiling
Vickie
May all your weeds be wildflowers. ~Author Unknown
Name: Mother Raphaela
Holy Myrrhbearers Monastery NY (Zone 4b)
Cat Lover Plant Lover: Loves 'em all! Container Gardener Garden Procrastinator Seed Starter Permaculture
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MotherRaphaela
Oct 8, 2014 2:40 PM CST
I picked up a pocket notebook on my way home from CA since I'm realizing I'm going to need to keep a diary of what I'm doing/have done. There is so much to remember here! Point and shoot was a simple way of life -- even though it meant I only got a few good pictures and they were mostly by accident... *Blush*

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