Archive for the ‘Tutorials’ Category

10MP D-SLR Review (Canon, Nikon and Sony)

Anatomical 18% gray card

Any SLR user (advanced) who shoots in “M” mode must have surely come across the term “18% gray”. So what exactly is this 18% gray and how does it affect exposure?

Mostly all cameras have an in-built light meter, which are calibrated for 18% gray i.e. the reference point for a camera’s light-meter to determine exposure are the surfaces that reflect 18% of the light that if falling on them. It is similar to a thermometer: At room temperature the thermometer stay at 94-97 deg i.e. the mercury in the thermometer remains stable during these temperatures. As the temperatures rise above this point the mercury starts reacting and shoots up the meter depending on the temperature it has been subjected to. So a reference point for a thermometer are the points at which it stays stable. Depending on this you can say if a person has a fever or if there is a drop in temperature. Similarly a camera”s light-meter is calibrated for, surfaces that reflect 18% light, or in other words, surfaces with 18% reflectance. So the mid-tones in your frame are rendered as surfaces that reflect 18% gray and deflection from this point results in an over or an under-exposed picture.

For instance if you compose a picture with your SLR camera in such a way that the frame is filled with any black material, the famous example is when you shoot a black cat. Place a black cat on a leather couch which is also black in color and then compose and shoot the picture with the whole frame filled with the black cat and the background, the black couch.

The results will be surprising you will see that the camera will fail to understand the shades of black and your picture will have a noticeable layer of gray on it. This is because of the camera calibration to 18%gray. Since the light-meter cannot find any mid-tones it renders the whole picture as gray. Similarly you can try this with your frame filled with only whites and you’ll see that the results are more or less the same.

So, how do we expose correctly for black cats ūüôā or rather when your frame is filled with same colors? The answer is very simple: “Use an 18% gray card/surface to determine the exposure”.

How do I take the reading for a good exposure? You can place the 18% gray card next to the subject of interest. Zoom in with your lens (or go closer) and now focus the gray card, adjust your shutter speed such that the light meter indicates perfect exposure. Now remove the gray card, zoom out and recompose your frame with your cat or whatever it is, DO NOT CHANGE YOUR EXPOSURE SETTINGS (let the reading be the one that you took off from the gray card) and then shoot et voila you now have a better and most realistic colors and shades of the picture as opposed to the one that the stupid light-meter has decided for you.

So now where do I get a gray card?

You can pick them at any of your local store for a few dollars.

What If I don’t have one or If you forgot one at home?

Most of the camera bag manufacturers (LowePro) provide the adjustable partition strips inside the bags with gray color. you can just strip on these and use it as your gray card. Alternatively an average human palm is supposed to reflect 18% gray so you are never out of options.

Tricky situations can be encountered when you are shooting a landscape with hills, clouds, flowing water, rocks and the green valley. Obviously, one cannot walk up to the hill place your gray card, come back place it on the water and then on the greens, take readings and shoot. The solution for this is quite simple and also complex

keep reading this blog for more on exposure techniques.

Good day people!


What is Sunny 16 rule?

Damn!! I forgot that light meter..does that sound familiar.
A beautiful landscape is waiting in front of you to be clicked and you are left with your imagination on how to expose that frame.
Well..sunny 16 rule comes handy.

What is Sunny 16 Rule?

On a brightest sunny day the exposure is roughly equal to the reciprocal of your film speed or ISO setting (in case of digital slr) at f/16.

i.e. your shutter speed = (approx) film speed

so if you are loaded with a 100 ISO film then set your shutter speed to 125
and if you are loaded with a 200 ISO then your shutter speed would be 250 basically anything close to the ISO numbers.

Well, now what if it is not exactly that sunny.
Hmm..not to worry we can tweak this rule a bit to work for us.

If it’s slightly overcast then we need more light to expose so we open it up one stop (I mean the aperture) keeping the shutter speeds same as above.
so for 100 ISO film it would be shutter speed = 125 and aperture f/11.

If it’s slightly more than overcast then we shall open it up a little more..2 stops.
so we get for 100 ISO film, shutter speed = 125 and aperture f/8.0

and for the rest of the ISO’s you do the math.

Happy Clickin.

How to shoot traffic at night?

It always fascinates me to see night photographs of traffic esp. those long white and red streaks of light. I have seen many photographs of traffic at night, endless shuffling through those Nat Geo really charges up your gray cells. After being inspired enough I decided to see night life from a different perspective. Whenever I used to travel I was always able to spot a good “night” frame here and there..I guess it’s the warm glow of tungsten on peoples faces and buildings,gates,foodstalls, I guess it’s the fire that lights up in those narrow streets. There is a strange beauty in the night mesmerizing and calm.

After said all that I wanted some good memoirs of night life through my lens

Some points to consider while shooting traffic at night esp if you want those everlasting white/yellow/red streaks of lights, glittering street lamps..

What would you need:
1. A sturdy and flexible tripod.
2. A Shutter release OR IR remote control to release the shutter
3. A good wide angle lens with MF (Manual focus) option
4. Patience and Cool.

1. Setting your ISO
If you are using a Digital SLR then set your ISO to 100/200. I prefer these ISO levels as the color saturation is more and more detail is captured while exposing. If you are shooting with a film/slide then also make sure you have loaded the camera with a ISO 100/200 film. I suggest Fuji crystal for film users and Fuji Velvia 100/100F for slide users.
2. Apertue and Shutter Speed settings
a. Stoop the aperture down to anything above 18 (personally I like 22) this is to allow the light to gradually fill the frame as time passes by.. so you can capture even the most dimly lit areas…if exposed for a long enough time all the street lights will glitter like stars and this is also to avoid those bright blobs in your picture if you were shooting traffic travelling towards the direction of the frame with their head lights on

b. Change to MF (Manual Focus). Now compose your picture. It is better if you a still /stationary object in your frame like a lamp post, sign post, parked vehicle etc., and focus on that This gives the feeling of motion better.
c. Set your shutter speeds to anything above 15″ (secs) (personally I like the BULB setting). Why 15″ ? I’am assuming here that a vehicle would enter and pass the frame (when viewed through your viewfinder) in 15″. If you have continous traffic coming at irregular intervals then it is better to set your shutter to BULB.

Now once your ISO, aperture and shutter speed settings are done then release your shutter slowly using the shutter release…take a deep breath and leave the shutter release to avoid any camera shake.. after you are satisified that enough traffic has passed by then release the shutter back to normal.
During the whole process you can completley forget the cameras readings.

DO NOT compensate for exposure by taking the camera readings into consideration.
You can experiment with different combinations of aperture and shutter speed settings. Interesting shots can be taken by experimenting with different white balance settings. Also do try taking some shots in Black & White and am sure you will be pleased.
Here are some of the pictures I have taken during the last two years.
Traffic, Bangkok

Traffic, Bangkok

Jamal, Khatmandu: Nepal

Vidhana Soudha, Bangalore