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15.4 - Getting the Correct Exposure

How do you photograph subjects that are bright or dark?

There are four methods.

Method #1 - Use

Exposure Compensation

This method uses the exposure compensation feature of your camera.

Light Colored/Toned Subjects

You need to overexpose light colored/toned subjects that are in bright light.

Set the exposure compensation feature on your camera to +1.5.

Take a photograph.

Then set it to +2 and take another one.

Be sure to set the exposure compensation back to 0.0 when you're done.

Dark Colored/Toned Subjects

You need to underexpose dark colored/toned subjects that are in bright light.

Set the exposure compensation feature on your camera to -1.5.

Take a photograph.

Then set it to -2 and take another one.

Be sure to set the exposure compensation back to 0.0 when you're done.

Method #2 - Measure

Something More Average

In this method, you look around the scene for something that's average colored or toned.

This object must be in the same light as the subject, of course.

1) Find something in the scene that is average colored/toned.

For example, in the snowy valley scene, this tree bark was medium toned.

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In the photograph of the gloves, the picnic table was medium toned.

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2) Fill the viewfinder with the average colored/toned part of the scene, and set your exposure.

Lock in this exposure by using the automatic exposure lock (AEL) feature.

3) Then, point your camera at the scene you want to photograph, and press the shutter release.

Method #3 - Gray Card

You can use an 18% gray card.

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Hold the gray card in the same light as the subject.

Measure the light by pointing your camera at the card.

The photograph below is of a gray card held in front of the hydrangea.

The camera light meter measured the light reflecting back from the gray card.

The light reading was 1/500th at f/8.

This exposure was locked in using the autoexposure lock (AEL) feature of the camera.

 

Method #4 - Incident Meter

You can use a separate light meter.

The light meter in your camera is measuring the light reflected from the scene.

As we have seen above, this can confuse the light meter.

A separate light meter can take incident measurements.

An incident light reading is of the light falling on the scene—not the light reflecting back at the camera from the scene.

Therefore, an incident light reading is not confused by how much light gets absorbed and reflected from the scene.

To take a light reading, place the meter in the scene, and point it back at the camera.

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