Brighten up!

James Pater­son ex­plains how ex­po­sure com­pen­sa­tion can help in tricky light­ing con­di­tions

NPhoto - - Contents -

Dis­cover how your Nikon’s Ex­po­sure Com­pen­sa­tion fea­ture can make all the dif­fer­ence in tricky light­ing con­di­tions

Found on all D-SLRs, ex­po­sure com­pen­sa­tion lets you dial in more or less light as needed

Your Nikon’s metering sys­tem plays a vi­tal role in pic­ture-tak­ing. It works out how much light should en­ter the cam­era to make a cor­rect ex­po­sure. Be warned, though: it’s very clever, but it’s not com­pletely fool­proof. The prob­lem with metering is that it takes an av­er­age read­ing (ei­ther of the en­tire frame or part of it, depend­ing on which metering mode you’re in), and this read­ing is as­sumed to be a mid­tone, half­way be­tween white and black.

More of­ten than not this as­sump­tion comes out right, but the metering sys­tem can strug­gle when a frame is dom­i­nated by ar­eas of ex­treme bright­ness or dark­ness. For ex­am­ple, imag­ine a per­son stand­ing in the snow wear­ing a white coat. The frame will be dom­i­nated by whites, but your metering sys­tem doesn’t know that it’s snow, all it de­tects is overly bright tones. So it does what it’s de­signed to do, which is al­low less light than into the cam­era in or­der to av­er­age out the scene. The re­sult could be an un­der­ex­posed face. On the other hand, imag­ine a per­son stand­ing un­der a spot­light in a dark room. This time the metering may be tricked by the large ex­panse of black into as­sum­ing the sub­ject is darker than it re­ally is, and over­ex­pose the face.

It’s all about por­tions of the frame. Your cam­era can’t al­ways work out what the most im­por­tant por­tion is – but you can. The ques­tion is, if the cam­era gets it wrong, what can you do about it? The so­lu­tion is ex­po­sure com­pen­sa­tion. Found on all D-SLRs, this fea­ture lets you dial in more or less light as needed. Here’s how…

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