365 Challenge #222 - learnin' about exposure

So, I went to Session #2 of the Colour I Course at the Brisbane College of Photography and Art tonight.

This week we talked about quality of light and then got onto metering. As with some of the topics last week, I'd heard discussions about metering before, but it was helpful to hear about the pros and cons of the various metering options, like evaluative, centre-weighted, partial and spot metering. Until now, I've pretty much not moved the dial off evaluative - kinda like the Auto of the metering world.

My mission after tonight's workshop is to get a bit more specific about what I meter off in each shot.

According to the Canon website, evaluative metering "is directly linked to, and concentrated on, the active Autofocus (AF) point. Light values measured at the active AF point are compared with light values measured from the metering segments surrounding the active point, and the camera's metering system attempts to provide an accurate exposure based on that comparison." Basically, as the tutor pointed out, the camera tries to average out the whole scene - which may or may not be appropriate. If you have obvious highlights and lowlights, this probably isn't gonna be a good mode to use.

Centre-weighted Average: This metering mode averages the exposure for the entire picture area, but with greater emphasis on the centre metering zones.

Partial: This metering mode is similar to Spot Metering, but covers a slightly larger area, reading only the cross-shaped central five metering zones (approximately 10% of the total picture area).

Spot: This metering mode gets exposure information only from the single exposure zone in the center of the frame (approximately 3% of the total picture area).

The tutor reckoned that even seasoned pros struggle with metering, and that using spot metering mode can be tricky and far less forgiving than something like partial metering mode. He said he liked to use this mode for shooting portraits, like those at weddings. I'm thinking I'll have the perfect opportunity to test out this theory this weekend.

This led into a discussion about bracketing (as you can by the scrawl above, I thought this was pretty important). Autobracketing is where you set the camera to take several successive shots (usually three) with slightly different settings. Later, the best-looking image can be picked from the batch.

The most common type of autobracketing is exposure autobracketing, where the camera is set to capture the same image several times with different exposure settings, both over-exposed and under-exposed (lighter and darker) compared to the current setting on the camera. It's kinda like hedging your bets as to whether you're doing it right. I'm a hedger. I like it!

We also had a bit of revision about composition; guidelines like the Rule of Thirds, the centre of interest, merges, framing and leading lines. There's something about hearing this information, seeing images that illustrate the points, chattin' about it, then actually going out and looking for these elements in shots, that's starting to make it all sink in (at leats theorectically).

Like learning any new skill, there's different phases of learning:
1) Unconscious incompetence
2) Conscious incompetence
3) Conscious competence
4) Unconscious competence

I reckon I'm at about the conscious incompetence phase with my photography, but I also reckon that if I continue to have as much fun learning about it as I currently am, I will never tire of it.

Now...can I just fast forward to unconscious competence? :)

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