1 On the dark side
When shooting your subject in shade against a brighter backdrop your Nikon’s metering system may struggle. In the inset image on the left you can see that the result of shooting from dark to light when relying purely on matrix metering is an underexposed subject.
2 Give it one
If you don’t want to leave your subject in the dark, now’s the time to try exposure compensation. Most Nikon D-SLRs have a dedicated exposure compensation button on the top plate. Hold it down and flick the back dial to add in more light – here we’ll try +1 stop.
3 Add more light
At +1 stop we’ve lifted the subject, but perhaps not enough. So we can try adding in a little more light. We took it to +2.3 for our main image here. This correctly exposes the face; it blows out some of the background detail but that’s fine, we can’t have it both ways.
4 Change the mood
Exposure compensation gives you a huge degree of control over the mood of your shots. Here, with the flick of a dial we go from a moody silhouette to abright, airy portrait. Just remember, reset the dial when you’re done or it might trip you up next time you pick up your camera!
5 Light to dark
When the background is darker than the subject we have the opposite problem: our metering system may overexpose the face. We moved our model into the light and shot into a background of shade. When shooting in sunshine like this, tilt the face upwards towards the light.
6 Take it down
As you can see from the shot on the left, the large dark patches in the frame have fooled the meter into thinking we need more light than we really do, resulting in an overexposed face. So we dial in -1 stop of underexposure and the skin tones look much nicer.