Exposure is arguably more important than focusing, and potentially more daunting. Thankfully, help is at hand…
Claim some compensation
Unusually light or dark subjects can confuse your Nikon’s exposure meter, as it will always try to render them as a mid-tone. In such cases you may need to apply exposure compensation. It’s easier that it sounds: apply positive compensation to let in more light and lighten the exposure (making subjects such as snow come out lighter) and negative compensation to reduce the amount and so darken the exposure.
Lock the exposure
Nikon D-SLRs aren’t like most other digital cameras – half-pressing and holding the shutter button will lock the focus, but not the exposure (though you can change this is the Custom Settings). That’s why you need the AE-L/AF-L button on the back of the camera. In fact, you can configure this to lock the focus, the exposure, or both, using the custom functions menu.
Dial M for manual
If it’s set to any of the auto exposure modes, your Nikon will measure the light in the scene and make adjustments for each shot you take. This isn’t always a good thing! If you’re shooting a panorama made up of overlapping frames, for example, you need each exposure to be exactly the same, so shooting in Manual mode ensures complete consistency across the whole sequence.
25 Get help from your histogram
You can display an RGB histogram for shots you’ve taken using the Playback display option in the Playback menu. This shows a histogram for each of the red, green and blue colour channels, and it can be more useful than the regular histogram because it alerts you to situations where one channel or colour is ‘clipping’ (under- or over-exposing) more than the others.