Ident ify­ing the key tone

Once you know the area you want to ex­pose for, you’re half­way there

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The fast track to suc­cess­ful ex­po­sure is very much based on ex­pe­ri­ence and judg­ment, and is sim­ply this: learn to iden­tify the most im­por­tant tone in the im­age you’re about to shoot, and then de­cide how bright you want it. This key tone may well coin­cide with the ob­vi­ous sub­ject, such as the skin tone in a por­trait, but it may just be a part of a sub­ject, such as the sliver of light around a back­lit sub­ject (see left). The key tone does not, of course, al­ways have to be an av­er­age, mid-tone. Just think of the dif­fer­ence in a por­trait be­tween very dark and very pale: the for­mer needs to be at least a stop darker than an av­er­age mid-tone, the other a lit­tle lighter.

Me­ter a stop darker than a mid-tone to cap­ture the beauty of darker skins

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