Exposure notes

I have always been too focused (pardon the inevitable pun) on making an image to bother with field notes. Of course these days most digital cameras record not only the lens, exposure, and date/time but usually GPS location as well. Not so in the days of film. Nonetheless if you scroll below any of my 4"x5" images you will see approximate lens and exposure notes from memory. Over time I will add the appropriate data to my digital images online.

To "calculate" exposure I combine several common techniques. First, I carry an incident light meter, which I find very useful, no matter how old fashioned, in judging overall light on distant subjects. Next, I "shoot to the right"; i.e. I routinely over-expose 2/3 stop above that indicated in-camera. As has been extensively discussed elsewhere, this gives me the best chance of preserving maximum information in hightlights (recovered in post-processing) without blowing them up. And then I usually bracket three shots in 2/3 stop imcrements.

In spite of all that, and many years shooting the zone system with a Pentax electronic Spotmeter, I find my best "exposure calculator" in in my eyes and brain. Practice makes better (not necessarily perfect).


Over the last fifty years I have used a fairly wide variety of cameras and formats, Items in bold are those I currently use:

Over the years my 4"x5" film cameras have held many fine lenses, including:

Now the the digital age is upon us, and film, to my great regret, is very difficult to obtain and process, I have worked through an arsenal of Canon EF lenses. Items in bold are those I currently use:

"Why so many?" is a fair question, although any dedicated photographer will know. First, technology has evolved very rapidly over the last fifty years - from Brownie box to full digital componentization. Most serious photograpohers are always at least as curious as their wallet allows. Second, one's personal style of seeing, processing, presenting, and eventaully, carrying (or not) evolves continually. I have reached the age where I shoot only what I can carry comfortably to the car, and only where I carry only the one camera and lens with which I will shoot, not more than 50 yeards from the car.

But in the end, it is the photographer, not the equipment, which makes the image!