Using exposure compensation in different shooting modes
A good time to try Exposure Compensation is when you’re taking a portrait photo and there’s a bright sky behind your subject.
If you’re using the standard Evaluative Metering mode, your camera factors the bright areas into the exposure and, not wanting to ‘overexpose’ the shot, you end up with a grey sky and your subject looking too dark.
By using Exposure Compensation in this situation, you can choose to make your shot lighter by dialling-in from +1/3 to +2 stops of overexposure – however much you think you need to achieve the result you’re after.
Exposure Compensation is only available if you’re shooting in the Program, Aperture Priority or Shutter Priority modes (and A-Dep mode on Canon cameras).
Using Exposure Compensation in Aperture Priority mode
In Av mode, if you hold the Exposure Compensation button down and use the top dial, you’ll be adjusting the shutter speed. A stop of under- or overexposure makes the shutter double or half its speed.
The aperture remains the same, so a faster shutter speed gives you darker shots by allowing less light to fall on the sensor in a given time.
Conversely, a slower shutter speed produces lighter shots by allowing the sensor to ‘see’ more light in a given time.
Don’t alter the shutter speed so much that it’s too slow to capture sharp shots when you’re shooting handheld.
Using Exposure Compensation in Shutter Priority mode
If you’re shooting in Shutter Priority mode and you alter the Exposure Compensation, you’ll be adjusting your camera’s aperture to make it wider or narrower.
Now the shutter speed will remain constant, so a narrower aperture will result in darker shots because more light will be excluded in the time frame, whereas a wider aperture will produce lighter shots because you’ll be letting more light in during a given time.
When you’re shooting in Shutter Priority mode and using Exposure Compensation to adjust the aperture, bear in mind that you’ll also be adjusting the depth of field, so more or less of your shot will be in focus.
Make your shots brighter
Whether you’re in Shutter Priority or Aperture Priority mode, pressing the Exposure Compensation button and turning the dial to the right makes shots brighter. Dial-in +1/3 of a stop at a time and take a photo after each change. Check the results and increase exposure as necessary. This shot of the Bristol Balloon Fiesta was taken with +1 stop of overexposure.
Make your shots darker
When using Exposure Compensation, turning the dial to the left will make your shots darker whether you’re in Shutter Priority or Aperture Priority mode. Dial-in -1/3 of a stop at a time, then take a photo and check the results on your camera’s rear LCD. Underexpose more until you’re satisfied. This sunset shot was taken in Bath with -1 stop of underexposure.
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