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Subject: Re: Exposure to the right and tone placement

Uh-oh. I'm surrounded by Science. What to do...I once shot photographs for a living ("you call that a living?") and for the past 37.3 years, give or take, have been making exposures, some of them good, some of them awful. I cannot play either a doctor or a professional photographer -- no, not even on TV. (C.V. will not be made available on request. No, don't thank me.)

So how do you shoot a black cat? Here's how I did it -- first, the wrong way and second, the right way. 1) Cat presented himself in completely adorable pose (cue the "Kodak Moment" music). Quick, grab camera. Fumble for on/off switch. Where the devil did they put the damned switch...ok, there it is. Uh-oh, low light and ISO 100. Quick, fumble for firmware settings to arrive at ISO 800. Cat might not hold pose much longer...aim, focus, shoot. OOPS. Didn't think fast enough. Of course, indicated meter reading will overexpose the shot. Yep, it's overexposed. Shot later panned by a certain programmer who haunts this forum because it was overexposed (the photo, not the forum). Abject humiliation. However, the print made from the overexposed digital file turned out ok. Not gorgeous but acceptable. Made note of this to aforesaid programmer, who, for some reason, did not respond. :)

2) Once again, cat posing in a photographically appealing fashion. Quick, grab camera. Fantastic luck -- found on/off switch a bit faster this time. Already at ISO 100 -- good, good, more photons in evidence today. And this time, remember that indicated meter reading will not be sufficient. (Mind racing, fumbling for useful mnemonics...ah, here they are: dark...down...minus -- aha! Yreka! Decrease exposure!) Turn magic EV compensation wheel provided in convenient location on camera. Better do it fast, as Kodak Moment is disappearing rapidly. Cat has reached zenith of cuteness and is about to become bored. So pluck the magic twanger and SHOOT, fool!

Shot at 1.5 or so stops less than indicated meter reading, all praise to magic EV comp wheel. The resulting inkjet print can't rival the best stuff I did on Afga enlarging papers back in the days when dinosaurs roamed the earth, but it's the best damned inkjet print I've made and has a nice range of rich dark tones, and that print, while not Agfa-like, is making it damned difficult for me to give up the Epson 1280 with its dye-based inks. Pigment, schmigment. But I digress. There's plenty of detail throughout the dark-on-dark areas of the cat's fur. Further, I was gratified to see that the victim's rather bright white fur patches also contain detail. I am rarely impressed by what I shoot, but in this case I will make an exception.

So that's one way to take a decent shot of a black cat. Hell with the numbers! Sometimes you have to make your decision in a hurry, turn the damned EV wheel, and spray 'n' pray.


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