By June 21, 2013 2 Comments

Keys to Good Hybrid Photography – Part 1 Exposure

If you shoot hybrid eProducts there are some camera settings you need to get right in order to get good, useable video and stills. The added benefit is that you don’t need to spend time editing. In this video series I’m going to be covering these key things starting with exposure.

The key to good hybrids is that your video and stills match each other.

Shooting video is like shooting jpgs. The settings are cooked into the image.

You need to get things right in the camera so that you can completely eliminate the editing process.

Yup you heard that right. Eliminate the editing process and go straight to assembly.

If you are trying to edit video clips and you don’t have much experience in that area, you’re going to spend a lot of time on it and you might just give up. Because video editing ain’t easy, especially fixing bad video!

When I started with dSLR video 3  years ago, I spent hours learning (and agonizing over) video editing software. It’s not that hard to plunk some clips on a timeline, trim them, and add the sound track, but the problems arise when you have poor exposure and bad color. Those are the things that are time consuming to learn and fix in video editing.

Thinking hybrid

With new ways of thinking, I’ve totally changed the way I work, and I can assemble and deliver a finished video eProduct to my customers with minimal effort, and I save a lot of time now too.

First step: Getting proper Exposure

You’ve been taking pictures for a long time. You’ve got a pretty good handle on things. But if you haven’t shot jpgs in awhile, you might need to tighten up your capture workflow.

With raw files it’s easy to fix your exposure and lighting mistakes. You just move the exposure, highlight, blacks and shadows sliders in your raw processing software, until it’s perfect.

And yes, with jpgs you can correct some exposure problems, but there are limits. Blown out highlights will always remain blown out highlights. You can’t get that detail back in jpgs or video once it’s gone.

The easiest way to check if your exposure is correct, is to check the histogram.

That works for both jpgs and video clips. I prefer to check the histogram after the photos or video clips are captured, rather than from the live view. Mostly because file processing happens after the shutter is pressed, and I want to see the final result.

So if your histogram doesn’t go from side to side – from shadows on the left to highlights on the right, then somethings’ wrong. If it’s climbing the walls on one side or the other, or both, then you’ve lost detail in those areas.

Another way to check your exposure is to look at your blinkies. I have a followup post on that, here.

How to fix a bad looking histogram

If you shoot in any of the automatic modes: Program mode, Aperture priority or Shutter priority, then you can use exposure compensation to adjust exposure. It’s a matter of adding or taking away light. Use the + or the - to do that.

And if you like to use manual exposure, then adjust your shutter speed, f-stop or ISO to compensate manually.

Getting it right in the camera will save you time at the back end, so that you can spend more time taking pictures and video clips, than editing them.

About the Author:

With over 20 years as a pro shooting editorial, sports, corporate and industrial photography, Marlene Hielema has become comfortable with the craft of digital output. As a photo and video tinkerer and troubleshooter, Marlene enjoys relaying the practical uses of photo and video hardware and software that you might not find on the manufacturer's or software publisher's websites. Thousands have seen her work on YouTube and her popular site where Marlene teaches photography and photo editing online, in the classroom, and one-to-one. Find out more about what Marlene can help you with here on discovermirrorless, as well as and

2 Comments on "Keys to Good Hybrid Photography – Part 1 Exposure"

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  1. seamuswarren says:

    Hello DiscoverMirrorless, I found it somewhat counter intuitive when advised to increase exposure when shooting “a Polar Bear in a Blizzard” so-to-speak, because the camera tries to turn the white snow and ice and the Polar Bear too, into an icky grey. :)

    The opposite is advised when shooting a dark image such as a thousand Iguanas sun bathing on Volcanic rocks in the Galapogas – a dark image the camera will try to average out to an icky grey again. So, we need to tell the camera to darken the image via exposure compensation or a manual means like a faster shutter speed if we don’t want to mess with the aperture. The ISO would already be as low as possible. :)

    In my opinion, unless a manageable RAW video format accessible to mere mortals is introduced, we need to get the exposure right at the time of the shoot if we want a consistent look when combining moving and still images. :)

    It seems the convergence of videography and photography is forcing us – in this digital age of easy image manipulation – to get a bit “old school” in a sense. :) We are forced to “get it right” (or close to it) in the camera as was the case in the film days where it may have been hard to recover poorly exposed images in the lab. :)

    I will mostly shoot RAW +JPEG as insurance if I need to do something more with the images but if I want to shoot Black ‘n’ White or 1:1, then I will do so in camera rather than apple a filter and crop later. Too bad the 1:1 aspect ratio is not available on my RX100 when shooting a video.

    Thanks for sharing your exposure tips. :)

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