Hi I’m Sareesh Sudhakaran.
In this video I’ll show you how to properlyexpose an image, the way cinematographers do it.
It’s a completely different way of thinking.
You’ll be able to expose the way you want, and never have to worry about it ever again.
We’ll start really simple, and increasethe complexity as we go along.
You pick where you want to draw the line, and stick to that.
But please watch till the end, subscribe andhit the bell because that gives me the right exposure.
Let’s start with a simple background.
There’s only one light falling on it frombehind, and it’s pretty even.
You know it's even by looking at the waveformmonitor, it’s flat.
Don’t fret, you don’t need to know anythingabout waveforms or histograms for this video.
I’m just going to be using what everyonehas – the in-camera meter.
I’m using matrix or evaluative metering.
Most people start with this.
When the exposure reading is zero, you knowit’s what the camera thinks is middle grey.
If that went over your head, don’t worry, it’s going to happen a lot the rest of your life.
But for now, just to keep it really simple, let’s call that correct exposure.
You know, like how people say she’s awfullypretty, or he’s a gentleman bandit.
You point the camera at something, the cameradoes its best, and when you see zero, you’re done.
If things were this simple that would be theend of this video.
But it wouldn’t be fair to you.
You skipped all those other clickbait videosto watch this one.
Now you must pay the price.
Let’s fool the camera.
What if the background is black? The camera exposes for it, you turn your aperture, ISO or shutter until the meter says zero, and black becomes.
grey? That’s not right.
What if the color is white? The camera exposes for it, .
and it becomesgrey again.
Obviously our in-camera meter can be fooledpretty easily.
And what if the scene has both light and darkdetails? The camera will do its best, and you get this.
Yet another correct exposure.
Okay, if the BFG doesn’t work, you pullout the sniper.
Anybody remember MDK? I thought so.
The sniper in the camera is called Spot metering.
It’s a circle in the center, and now thecamera only calculates exposure for whatever’s inside it.
So it’s your job to point it right.
You could pan the spot to the left, and ruineverything, or you could pan the spot to the right, for an encore.
Where exactly do you put this spot? To wag the dog we have what is called a greycard.
I’m using the DSC Labs OneShot, you’llfind the link to it below.
Grey cards are not cheap, but like everythingin life, you can make cheap ones work.
You place the grey card in the center, andput the circle inside it.
When the meter reads zero, it is supposedto be correctly exposed.
People call it middle grey.
Doesn’t matter what they call it.
Does the scene look correctly exposed to you? As we all know, the mathematically perfectpizza isn’t always the most satisfying one.
Now let’s bring in something even more expensive.
A light meter.
You place the light meter in the same light, and you dial in the same settings and take an aperture reading.
In this case, it’s pretty close.
The lens is at an f/2.
8, and the meter readsf/2.
Close enough, really.
If you’re wondering why the ball is recededin the meter, I have another video about that.
if you beg me enough I’ll put a link to itbelow.
You know, filmmakers see light meters andtheir eyes glaze over.
You’ve seen cinematographers use these lightmeters.
Or, you have seen pictures of cinematographersusing light meters.
Those pictures were clicked with the in-camerameter.
Anyway, most expensive light meters have spotmeters as well.
Some cinematographers prefer spot meters, others just the incident meter, many use both.
Is this the holy grail, a light meter? Or are you okay with just the spot meter? Let me clear it up a bit.
Even though you get the same aperture reading, that’s not good enough for cinematography.
The spot meter reads light reflected off asurface.
If grey reflects light, that’s one value.
If a white background reflects the same light, the reading changes.
In that respect, spot meters are great, becausethey take into account what’s in the scene.
But, it only works well if you know whereto point it.
Incident light meters read light falling onthem.
They don’t know or care what’s in thescene.
It treats everything democratically, whichin this case basically means blindly.
The only time you really need incident lightmeters is if you don’t have access to the camera, and you need to light a set quickly.
It’s a fast and accurate way to light andwork.
In all other situations, you don’t needan incident light meter.
As a matter of fact, there are four toolson the screen, and only one is perfectly designed for video and cinematography.
And it’s the one everyone hates to use, but is your best bet.
The waveform tells you at a glance what partsof the scene are light and what are dark, and by how much exactly.
In this scene the mannequin is brighter, andthe thinker is wondering if he is maintaining the appropriate social distance.
But it’s clear the thinker doesn’t lookright.
Like he had expired tuna for breakfast.
He needs some air.
I’m going to take away the background.
Now we have a bright sky in the shot.
We have the same tools, grey card, light meter, in-camera meter, they’ll all give similar readings as before.
I say similar because flare, the thing thatcauses images to lose contrast, also fools spot meters and in-camera meters.
It doesn’t fool a waveform.
Clearly what was looking okay-ish before doesn’twork anymore.
To make things worse, what you see also dependson the camera.
Some cameras have great dynamic range, othersdon’t.
In this camera let me cycle through some ofthe settings so you can see how it changes the perceivable difference between the brightestand darkest parts of the image.
I feel for you.
By this point you are still here but yourbrain has left the building.
Let me tell you what to do.
You have two choices, both are correct.
If you’re the sort of person who insistson correct exposure, then a grey card is your best bet.
If you expose for middle grey, you’ll alwaysbe the teacher’s pet.
You’ll get the good grades, later on inlife you’ll be the boss’s puppy, and as long as everything is good and proper you’llhave a decent life.
But when you hit situations like this, thegrey card is next to useless.
It’s also useless in other ways, like youhave to always place the card in the light you want to expose.
What if you have a scene with both light andshadow? Where do you put the grey card – in the lightor in the shadow? Also, what if you had a scene in a jail cellwhere one character is near the light but another is in the shadows.
Where do you put the grey card? That’s right, you put it back on the shelf, and spend your money elsewhere.
This is why I use my grey cards a lot, wheneverI’m at home and testing cameras.
It’s great for that.
In the real world, there are few situationswhere you can always carry and use a grey card consistently.
Productions move fast, or maybe you’re shootingwith long lenses and the scene is too far away, or like I just showed you, the greycard doesn't always give you the right results.
And this is why you’ll rarely see a greycard on set in any behind the scenes footage.
I told you cinematographers think about exposuredifferently.
They know all this stuff, but still, theydecide to rely on their own experience instead of a grey card.
Make no mistake, they do a lot of testing.
Even cinematographers who have worked fordecades still test at the beginning of every movie.
Today it is even more important, because thereare so many different kinds of cameras and formats.
Good cinematographers always test, and thegrey card is great for testing and understanding.
The cinematographer’s main weapon is thedeeper understanding of light.
Let me turn on an LED to show you what I mean.
Now you control the exposure.
It doesn’t control you.
You don’t always need lights.
In other videos I’ve shown how you can uselight to your advantage even without having expensive lights or any lights at all.
By shining light or controlling availablelight a cinematographer achieves two objectives.
He or she gains complete control over exposure, and, he or she can also direct the aesthetic look of a frame.
You can paint with light, and create imagesthat would have been impossible otherwise.
So if you want to think like a cinematographerdo three things.
One, think of exposure as going to meet yourfriend in a different city.
You book your ticket for the city, not yourfriend’s home.
That’s what middle grey is for.
No matter how you choose to expose for middlegrey – in-camera meter, light meter or waveform monitor – remember it’s only a startingpoint.
The objective of middle grey is to get youclose.
Once you reach the city, now it’s your turnto fine tune the exposure to reach your friend’s house.
How you get there is your business.
Maybe you pick up some doughnuts along theway, or some coke, I don’t know.
But that’s what it is.
Correct exposure is just a way to please yourteacher or boss.
Cinematic exposure is one extra step, onewhich you must take alone.
You can move away from middle grey to underexposeor overexpose, or play with all the lighting tools to achieve complex looks.
That’s what separates the undies from thediapers.
The second thing you can do is more practical.
Rent a monitor for one day, and test a camerainside out.
This is what I do with my camera guides.
I always test, which is why it becomes easierin the field to take that leap of faith and expose the way I want it.
I let the light inspire my exposure, not thecamera.
And what if you can’t find inspiration? Fake it.
That’s my third tip.
Whatever the subject in front of you, createa story around it that will then show you the way.
If you don’t feel anything for the sceneor person in front of you, any exposure is correct, because nothing is.
If you liked this video please hit like, anddon’t forget to subscribe and hit the bell you’ll see on the right – because everytime you hit the bell you get to watch me again.