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Advice for exposing for hightlights with a Nikon D750
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Oct 16, 2016 20:08:26   #
I need some advise for exposing for highlights with a Nikon D750.

I took a picture of an egret looking for lunch and the white bird is blown out in the image. There is no detail in the feathers and the D750 shows the egret as being blown out on the rear LCD.

The details of the shot:
Camera - D750
Lens - 28-300mm zoom set at 300mm
ISO - 3200
Exposure - 1/125 sec.
f/stop - 16.0
Exposure - Aperture priority
Metering Mode - Spot
Light - decent daylight.

How in the future can i prevent blowing out the highlights? Would adding +2 or +3 EV exposure compensation correct the exposure of the egret?

Has anybody tried 'Highlight Metering Mode' on the D750? When I was looking it up at the Nikon website, it looks like it would handle handle exposure situations like the white egret against the dark background. Some of the online comments warned that 'Highlight Metering Mode' on the D750 wasn't that good.

Please advise gang.

Thank you.

Oct 16, 2016 20:13:04   #
MT Shooter (a regular here)
Use -1 to -1.3, never use + anything for a light subject on a dark background.
Since you used Spot metering, then metering the egret should have come very close.
Oct 16, 2016 20:24:31   #
In the first place, was it necessary to use ISO 3200? Was it necessary to use f16? From what place in the photograph did you meter with the spot meter?
It is well known that metering should ALWAYS be done from the most important highlight where detail is wanted. I was not there but with decent light an aperture of f5.6-8 would have been more than enough for this shot with a sufficiently high shutter speed to freeze the motion of the bird. Spot metering from the bird in MANUAL mode and opening 1 stop from meter reading surely would have rendered your bird well exposed with details. It could have been also possible to meter from a middle tonality area and close slightly the lens since a bright subject is not a middle tone. Minor adjustments can be done during editing but once overexposed details will never be recovered.
In general, the whole scene is overexposed lacking important details. I improved the image in its middle tonalities but as you can see once details are lost in the bright areas it is impossible to bring them back.

Oct 16, 2016 20:36:12   #
no way you needed 3200iso, 400 or lower would have worked, shoot RAW, as stated spot meter the brightest spot, but open up 3 stops (forget your highlight warning, you will have plenty of latitude).

go home happy
Oct 17, 2016 09:54:46   #
Did you focus and recompose or was your focus point on the bird? The D750 will meter off of where the focus point is, so it will make a difference in how you shot. I have used the highlight meter and it works fine. Just like anything else, you have to understand the situations and limitations.
Oct 17, 2016 11:19:53   #
Twardlow (a regular here)
I know I'm a simpleton, but did you look at your histogram after the shot?

Does it show you 'climbing the wall' on the right side?

Probably, I think.
Oct 17, 2016 11:38:21   #
Twardlow wrote:
I know I'm a simpleton, but did you look at your histogram after the shot?

Does it show you 'climbing the wall' on the right side?

Probably, I think.

Check your histogram after the first shot.
Oct 17, 2016 13:37:06   #
jeep_daddy (a regular here)
I see that you used spot metering but nobody knows if you locked the exposure in before you recomposed and took the shot. Also, when using spot metering, if the subject isn't filling most of the circle then that may not be very accurate. One thing you can do when shooting a subject like this is to forget the metering and trust you instincts. I always use Evaluative Metering in my Canon, Nikon calls it something else, but it's the average metering of the entire scene. When I take pictures of white or Great Egret I know to underexpose it about 1 stop so I use -1 EC (exposure compensation). You can also check your LCD to see how it's going to look. You can check your histogram to see if you detect a spike on the right side - if you do detect a spike on the right side, then you've blown out some portion of your picture. With an egret in the picture, which is the only white, you know for certain that you'll have blown out the highlights of the bird. And one last thing you can do to aid in getting the exposure correct, is to use Highlight Alert (Canons setting name), Nikon calls it something else but when this is turned on you will see the blown out parts of the picture flashing on your screen when you view the image. As you become more experienced, you won't need any of this because it will be second nature to just use exposure compensation to get it right without all the other tricks.
Oct 20, 2016 10:56:44   #
Bill Munny
I have used the "highlights*" on my 750. You application did not warrant that use with the scene you experienced. Just set the white balance at "direct sunlight", exposure comp at -0.7, picture control at "standard", and then bracket at 0.3 for 3-5 snaps. Using "Aperture" mode, set at f/5.6, let the camera do the rest of the work. Then check your histograms for final white balance check. Make sure you have your lens hood attached. If it is still washed out, change your exposure comp to a greater minus setting and try again. The ultra white bird is difficult to get a great shot off unless you have experience with so much contrast change. Hope this helps and works.
Oct 23, 2016 20:34:56   #
I wish to thank everybody for their comments, there has been a lot of good advice and criticism.

And I am starting to include some of that advice in my shooting. I've changed to Matrix metering, lowered my ISO to 100 to 400, and set the camera to Manual. I am starting to pay attention to the histogram and highlights display in image playback.

I have not been able to get back to the park and the egret so I have been practicing exposure compensation with other brightly lit objects. i have enjoyed the practice.

Oct 24, 2016 21:49:18   #
Here is a link to a post that I wrote for the BIF/BOW forum on this very subject, I hope it is some help to you.:

Oct 25, 2016 11:57:25   #
canon Lee (a regular here)
HI.. my comment has to do with the composition. If the bird is to be the subject then by all means zoom in on it..the bird is lost in the background... I would use aperture priority, where you select the DOF.. I would set my aperture to wide open. With ISO at minimum. (100%~400%) I would frame the bird with just a minimum of cropping necessary... Then most important, look at the histogram and make sure it's not over exposing the whites... You can always adjust the blacks and mid tones in LR.
Oct 26, 2016 08:20:18   #
birdman I have the AF-S NIKKOR 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR Lens and after extensive testing have determined it's optimum aperture is f/8... it's soft below that and by f/16 (the aperture your image was captured) diffraction is taking it's toll... best advice? Lock aperture at f/8 unless there are extremely compelling reason not to... bottom line with this lens... do not shoot wide open, experience is a brutal teacher...

Next issue... Avoid spot metering... it is a relic of days gone by when that was the only choice available... Matrix is generally the best option albeit test shots and verify with your histogram...

For work where it is imperative that I nail exposure I ALWAYS use auto bracketing... (provided the subject is stationary) as in this scenario... Three exposures at -0.7; 0.0; +0.7 with the mode dial set at CH (you need to test your D750 here to fine tune with exposure compensation to accommodate your particular sensor...

As for exposing for highlights? Learn to read your histograms... study and analyze carefully here... it takes literially hundreds and hundreds of test shots to become one with your camera's sensor... Auto Bracketing is a wonderful way to get your head around your sensor's dynamic range... However do not use auto bracketing for BIF... you need maximum frames per second for that scenario...

btw, using an exposure time of 1/125 second at a focal length of 300mm is pushing your luck... Yes Nikon's VR may accommodate this for static background elements albeit there is absolutely no guaranty the egret will... even the slightest movement of this bird will degrade it's acuity... And at f/8 you'll gain at least two stops of speed... thus 1/500 at f/8 is the same exposure and will likely accommodate the egret's movements...

Have you consider the merit of getting closer to your subject?
Just a thought...

Thank you for sharing...
Oct 31, 2016 19:46:38   #
Thank you for your comment.

Good point about changing the aperture to f/8. Shooting at lens's middle aperture for best sharpness is one of those things I need to relearn.

A PM advised sticking with matrix metering and I have been experimenting with that. I will also try auto bracketing, it will be interesting.

I don't know how much the VR on the 28-300 helps. But as it is the only VR lens I have, I had better get used to used to using higher shutter speeds to control vibration.

I couldn't get any closer to the egret. It was at the far end of a mill pond and I was on a board walk going across the mill pond.

Again, thank you for commenting.

Nov 4, 2016 14:34:44   #
frank bruce
can i import it and give you my rendition. thanks, frank
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