Partial Metering Partial metering covers an area exclusively at the center of the scene, taking up about 10 percent of the total picture area—not quite as small as that of a spot meter. Here, too, if the surrounding area is darker or lighter than the main subject, this mode is a good choice. It will usually give you the correct exposure for your subject, as long as your subject isn’t very light or very dark. That’s why I selected the partial metering mode for this shot of a cowboy riding at sunset at the Ponderosa Ranch in Oregon.
Not all cameras have spot-metering mode. For those that don’t, they’ll typically offer a partial-metering mode instead.
Autoexposure Lock Some digital cameras feature an exposure lock as part of the autoexposure metering system, which is extremely useful for scenes with a high contrast between the light and dark areas. One way to use this feature is to point your camera at an area of a scene that’s a middle brightness or midtone. Once you activate the autoexposure lock mode (AEL), depress the shutter release half way and lock in that exposure. Then you can recompose the scene and take the picture with that setting.
For my photograph of the camel and rider in Rajasthan, India, a balanced exposure was not my goal. I just wanted to capture their shadowed silhouette, illuminated by the radiance of the setting sun. That’s why I pointed my camera at the area surrounding the sun and not at the camel and rider.
This mode also helped me get a good shot of this owl in Upstate New York.
Using another metering mode could have easily underexposed the owl or overexposed the sky. So choose your exposure mode wisely before you shoot. This will ensure that you capture the best images possible and have minimal problems when editing them.
Rick Sammon has published 27 books. Visit www.ricksammon.com for more information, and meet up with Rick at one of his PCPhoto/Outdoor Photographer workshops.