I would just like to start this post off by saying that I am no means an expert on exposure. However, these are three things that I keep in mind each time that help me get on the path to good exposure. I work super hard to get everything right IN the camera, so that when I go to do any post-processing, I can actually be super efficient with my time and editing!
#1. Compose the shot in your mind.
This first step is really important to me. If I don’t know what I want to get for a shot, how do I know that it’s what I want, when I see it? Knowing before you take the shot what you want to be dark and light, or even, in the end result can go really far in helping you determine what is the proper exposure for you. Also take into consideration your surroundings. Are you in a dark room with little natural light? You may have to bump up your ISO to allow that extra light onto your sensor. Are you on the beach? It’ll probably be a good idea to bump up your shutter speed so that you don’t have a washed out photo. Having a good understanding of aperture, shutter speed, and ISO is pretty essential to producing photos that you really like, in a technical sense 🙂
#2. Look at the histogram.
Histograms are those little spiky graphs that come up when you pull up the information on a photo you just took. Don’t ignore those. Well, you can, obviously. But if you want to have a balanced photo those can be super helpful! I only just started to pay attention to the histograms just a few weeks ago! I had always heard about them, but never really saw the benefit.
Now, I get it. I absolutely love checking it to see if my photo is balanced. In the above photo, the histogram is the little graph thing next to the photo. They say that it’s good exposure if most of the spikes are located in the center and then level off as you go to the edges. So in my histogram, the exposure is pretty good, there are some light spots in the area according to the big spike on the far right, but overall, I’m happy with it. There’s a nice range of tones. I promise, the actual photo looks much better in real life, than on the back of that screen.
See? 🙂 I promise that this photo is straight out of camera! Just had to convert it to a JPEG.
For those who don’t know much about histograms check out this article from Digital Photography School. They do a great job explaining it. Also, this is a GREAT resource if you don’t already know about it! I could spend hours on this site just reading through all of the amazing information they have there!
#3. Use the light meter on your camera.
I absolutely love this feature on both of my cameras. It helps me to determine where my shutter speed should be to help get that balanced photo I strive for. However, it’s not always correct. It doesn’t know what I want the photo to look like, so I definitely adjust it if it’s still not bright or dark enough for my desires 🙂
Basically, you’ll see that bar across your screen (or across the top screen if you’re using a full frame camera) that looks something like this: + ——— 0 ——- (-). I usually try to get the bars to line up right under that “0.” What you’re changing when you do that is your shutter speed. So depending on the light you’re in, you could end up with a really slow shutter or a really fast shutter. It’s variable.
The light meter is that little set of bars right under the f/stop and the shutter speed.
These are just a few tips that I use that I thought may be helpful to some of you! If you already use these, then that’s fabulous! Learning about my camera is a never-ending process for me, and I crave new knowledge 🙂
Do you have any exposure tips for ME? 🙂