Since returning to London, the VENTH team have been SUPER busy, especially over the past weekend, celebrating Producer Cassandra’s birthday! So today’s #askVENTH episode was slightly strange as we deal with the after-effects, whilst relocating to the English countryside to get our noses back to the grindstone. The subject for today: How are you using metering and EV comp for your type of photography?
To be honest, Brian doesn’t focus too much on the technical side of photography when he’s shooting, so that kind of stuff doesn’t really factor too heavily in his mind at the time. He generally uses spot metering, but more often than not just uses the LCD as a visual light meter, rather than relying on the light meter of his camera.
What is spot metering?
The most important element when taking a photograph is light – without it you have nothing. If you have too much of it, your image can become overexposed and if you have too little of it, your image can be much too dark and underexposed. In order to gain the correct level of exposure for what you’re shooting, you need to make sure that you have the right amount of light entering your camera to register the image the way you want it. Spot metering is an accurate technique to focus on one part of the image to measure the light, and adjust exposure as needs be – it’s more commonly used to shoot high contrast scenes.
What is EV?
EV stands for Exposure Value, and almost all cameras will have an EV compensation setting to correct the lighting in a photo, when the camera makes the wrong assumption of how something is lit. Say for example you’re taking a picture of a snowy scene, which is naturally going to be very bright due to all the white in the image, on an auto setting your camera is naturally set to choose a mid-point between the very dark and very bright areas of the image to find the correct exposure for that image. For snowy scenes the camera thinks the very bright areas are the mid-point so it focuses on them, fooling the camera’s settings and making the snow appear grey in the end-product. Playing with the EV will make sure that all of your photos are correctly exposed, by telling the camera to expose the image at a higher or lower setting than it naturally thinks is right. This also applies to very dark scenes.
Does it really matter?
Brian doesn’t stress out too much about achieving the “correct” exposure for what he’s shooting, he just adjusts the settings to apply to what he’s shooting at the time and checks it visually in the moment by eye. Many people bang on about how it’s not technically correct, but it’s pretty damn close, and it’s better to trust your eyes wherever possible – you were given them for a reason! If you’re looking to capture an awesome image in your own unique style, it’s okay not to always rely on your camera to adjust your exposure, etc. for you, you should trust in your own ability to see the scene before you as you’re shooting it. If you know how to achieve the result you want, then you utilise the tools at your disposal and don’t worry about getting caught up in all the technical jargon that goes along with that.
When Brian started using his first DSLR, he didn’t know what any of the settings did, he just used it straight from the box and has been figuring it out for himself ever since. If you like the way you shoot something, does it matter what other people are doing with their settings, or how they go about things? No, it doesn’t. So stop worrying about other people, just try out your own methodologies to get your result and once you’ve figured it out, don’t question it, just own it. Of course you should be expanding your skills and knowledge as you go, but don’t get too caught up in the technical that you jeopardise your creative vision. If it works for you and it gets you the result that you want, then it’s the right thing to do.