Part 3 Mak­ing ex­po­sure ad­just­ments

If you think the cam­era will get it wrong, please do touch that dial

Digital Camera World - - DIAL M FOR MANUAL -

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

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