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Is exposing for skin a more refined version of exposing at 18%

Stelios Contos

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It seems like exposing for [ insert skin tone here ] skin tone is more of a refined and poignant version of using a 18%grey card. I understand that my exposure is based on the subject matter and creative decisions, but is there another advantage of using a 18% grey card over the skins talent when the subject is the human ?

I would think in an event where multiple skin tones are being captured a grey card would do better than selecting a certain to skin tone to base the exposure around. As far as I my knowledge goes, I think most human skin tones lay on 5 in the zone system....and other skin tones within a + - stop and fraction or thereabout within #5 in the zone system.

So girls and guys, To close out and hopefully this makes sense, when do you choose to expose your subject with a grey card versus their skin tone or is it less imperative than I'm thinking.

Thanks for your input. I love learning so let me know if a mix of exposure tools are useful or do you use one and done.



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Different skin tones are expected to be at different "gray levels". You would not want a deep black skin tone talent to be exposed at middle gray.

You can expose using skin tone as reference, correcting with a personal scale inherited from your experience. Something like: "if the talent has typical Caucasian or Asian tone, expose at middle gray. If she is Afro-American, expose one stop under middle gray. If he is Ethiopian, expose two stops under middle gray. If she is particularly white skin with red hair, expose one stop above middle gray,". That is very similar to using a gray card. It is less reproducible, but it still works if you do not have a gray card.

Edited by Nicolas POISSON
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