Subject: Re: Exposure to the right and tone placement
OK, so what I have gotten out of this is:
1. Try to push your exposure to the right, but keep track of the highlight detail you want to keep, or that you're willing to give up for what gain you get in shadow detail.
2. Realize the deficiency of those gains, because they are in the area of diminishing returns due to the exponential loss of levels as you move left. Nevertheless, they may be worth it, depending on the image.
3. As far as the Zone System goes, while I never did B&W, I found it a great tool for image visualization through understanding of what happens when you change the exposure and move a particular scene brightness level from one zone to another in your imaging system.
4. Those changes from zone to zone are totally dependent on the characteristics of the imaging device, which you have better understand through test shots that let you see the effect as brightness points move from one zone to the next.
5. For that, spot metering and the ability to place the value within the exposure system are key, after getting familiar with the results from your testing. That implies full manual or flexible exposure compensation. Canon gives +- 3, which is just about adequate for a range of 7 f-stops, but I would be happier with +- 4 or 5, because I hate full manual :). Of course I'm assuming a dynamic range of at least 7 f-stops, which may or not be presumptuous of my 1DsII. I do wish the spot was smaller. Yeah, I know, I also have a Sekonic 1-degree that I could uae, but I've gotten lazy in my old age.
When I shot film fanatically I would spend a couple of rolls per emulsion to calibrate it to my metering, and set the ISO accordingly after noting the dynamic range behavior. I haven't done any such testing yet with my 1DsII (I did do the ACR calibration script), as I've been concentrating in having a good time shooting while getting familiar with the whole environment, but it's getting to be just about that time ...
As a system architect / developer, photography was / is part get-away from work, part techno-quest, and the two always struggled. The get-away part has some upper-hand currently, but just barely :).
Thanks to all for the education / entertainment, and be happy! And sorry for the self-reflective BS above. It did help me clear some things though.
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Exposure to the right and tone placement =>
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