Part 3 Making exposure adjustments
If you think the camera will get it wrong, please do touch that dial
Consider the scene of a polar bear against a snowy background. With so much brightness being reflected into the exposure meter, the camera will tend to underexpose the image, even while indicating that the exposure is ‘correct’. This will result in the polar bear looking grey rather than white. Faced with this situation, it’s clearly time to over-ride the camera and switch to Manual mode.
Select M on the exposure mode dial and you’ll get the benefit of an always-on exposure indicator, usually displayed in the viewfinder or on the top plate of the camera. This is a scale that typically runs from -3 to 0 to +3. Point the camera at something else and you’ll see that the exposure indicator moves. Even with the indicator showing 0, the scene could still be incorrectly exposed. The key consideration to bear in mind is that the camera thinks that 0 is the correct exposure, because it is trying to render the white bear as a midtone. But in doing so, this scene is actually being under-exposed, so you’ll need to dial in some extra exposure by moving the scale to the right of zero. This is done in stops, similar to adjusting aperture and shutter speeds, and most cameras support one-third or half-stop increments. When faced with a scenario like this, keep this phrase in mind: “Add light when it’s bright.”
Stay away from the middle
Habitually shooting in Manual exposure mode may make you feel like a pro, but there’s more to it than choosing settings to keep the exposure indicator at 0. If you’re doing that, you may as well be using one of the semi-automatic exposure modes and the Exposure Compensation dial.
To learn more about how exposure works, stray from the middle ground and force the camera into giving you the exposures for the image you’re trying to realise.
Type of shot These dark red tones will result in overexposure Settings Manual Increase shutter speed to underexpose
… But not with too much! -2 EV
-1 EV It looks better with underexposure…
0 EV The camera’s ‘correct’ exposure