New England Central 611—Two Exposures.

Picking the best exposure is an important part of photography.

Today with modern metering, computer guided exposure aids (program modes) and automatic lenses, most photographers don’t spend a lot of time worrying about exposure details.

It might surprise some Tracking the Light readers that in most instances I set my exposures manually, and I only use camera metering in an advisory capacity (In other words I look at the camera meter but don’t necessarily accept its advice).

While I often use my Lumix LX7 in ‘A’ mode, I routinely over-ride the camera’s exposure advice using manual controls. With my FujiFilm XT1 and Canon digital cameras (and film cameras), I almost always set my exposure manually.

Last week, working with my FujiFilm XT1 I made these views of New England Central freight 611 working south of Brattleboro, Vermont. The stunning scenic setting of the Connecticut River backwater combined with dramatic morning cross-lighting and a dark background makes for an excellent illustration of a difficult lighting situation.

Here, many camera automatic modes might grossly overexpose the scene in a misguided attempt to compensate for the dark background.

I’ve metered manually and gauged exposure using the camera’s histogram (set up to show the distribution of pixels in regards to exposure.) I’ve offered two variations here, exposed 1 full stop apart.

A ‘stop’ is a standard increment of exposure. The amount of light reaching the sensor or film doubles/halves with each change of one stop. So going from an aperture setting of f4 to f5.6 (one stop) cuts the light by half. Likewise, a shutter speed change from 1/250 to 1/500 will also cut the amount of light by half.

The darker image was exposed at f5.6 at 1/400th of a second at ISO 400; while the lighter image was exposed at f4 at 1/400th of a second at ISO 400. (In other words the only the aperture setting was changed.)

FujiFilm XT-1 with 90mm lens set at: f5.6 at 1/400th of a second at ISO 400
FujiFilm XT-1 with 90mm lens set at: f4 at 1/400th of a second at ISO 400

Both exposures are acceptable, but you may have a preference for one versus the other. The photos here have not been altered for density, color balance or color temperature  in post processing; both are scaled versions of the camera produced JPGs.

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One thought on “New England Central 611—Two Exposures.”

  1. Brian: I found the info you rendered very informative. Put in the context here with examples of the effects is very helpful.
    Might have to get the camera out and put this material to use!
    Thank you!

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