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Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Digital Exposure Tips From The Pros

Don’t rely on setting the camera to auto or fixing a photo after capture. Check out what the pros have to say about exposure.

This Article Features Photo Zoom

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Mastering exposure is every bit as important for a digital shooter as it is for a film photographer. Routine technical choices about metering, lens aperture and shutter speed remain the basic ingredients for a well-executed photograph. But what if you’re trying to capture a forest freshly covered in snow, or photograph a close-up shot of a bee crawling on a sunflower, or compose an image of the ocean just after sunset?

Exposure becomes trickier when the light becomes more challenging. Yet, these situations can be the most photographically rewarding because a proper exposure becomes a creative element of the image. So we polled some longtime OP contributors for their tips and techniques for getting the best exposures in various conditions.

1 Center-weighted metering. As a rule of thumb, I always try to get the best exposure while taking my photo as opposed to fixing it in Photoshop. I encourage everyone to make tests with their cameras and metering systems to see what kind of exposures they get at different settings. I use Olympus cameras and find that center-weighted-averaging metering is the most suited for almost all of my shooting. I also check my histogram to see that the extremes don’t get blown out.
—John Isaac

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2 Getting close. This is an example of a common exposure problem for close-ups—an image filled with bright white, yet with a very dark key element. The camera meter has a tendency to underexpose this type of scene because it’s overinfluenced by the white. That’s a problem, however, because the underexposure will make the dark tones and colors of the bee record poorly. You need to adjust exposure so that you get enough brightness in the dark areas, but you must be sure to keep tones in the bright area as well. One way to do this is to increase exposure until the highlight warnings start to blink and then reduce exposure just enough that they quit blinking, but no less.
—Rob Sheppard


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