Exposure Compensation: finally a jargon free method for getting perfect exposure

Exposure Compensation: finally a jargon-free method for getting perfect exposure

3 ways your camera’s auto exposure can get it wrong

There are lots of situations that benefit from a slightly brighter or darker image. Here are some classic examples…

3 ways your camera's auto exposure can get it wrong: dark subjects

Dark subjects
Black objects can fool a meter into overexposure. The camera sensor receives too much light, so the picture looks too bright – and the blacks become grey.

3 ways your camera's auto exposure can get it wrong: dark subjects

Any white or pale areas (such as this coot’s beak) can be overexposed, too. Dialling in -2/3 to -1 1/3 underexposure, so the histogram shifts to the left, can rectify this.

 

3 ways your camera's auto exposure can get it wrong: backlit subjects

Backlit subjects
Including a very bright light source in the frame will lead to a very dark image, as the meter tries to balance the scene.

3 ways your camera's auto exposure can get it wrong: backlit subjects

This is not a problem if you’re shooting silhouettes, but if you want to reveal detail in the foreground, be prepared to dial in some positive exposure compensation – anywhere from 1 stop to 3 stops.

 

3 ways your camera's auto exposure can get it wrong: low-contrast subjects

Low contrast subjects
Not all subjects or situations will give a histogram that stretches the full width of the graph. In this case, it’s best to expose so that the histogram moves as far to the right without detail being ‘clipped’.

3 ways your camera's auto exposure can get it wrong: low-contrast subjects

In this low-contrast example, dialling in exposure compensation of +2/3 or +1 stop would have given a better exposure to work with later.

PAGE 1: Common questions about using exposure compensation
PAGE 2: How much exposure compensation should I use?
PAGE 3: How to control your camera’s exposure compensation
PAGE 4: What is highlight alert?
PAGE 5: 3 ways your camera’s auto exposure can get it wrong

READ MORE

Best shutter speeds for every situation
What is ISO: when to increase sensitivity, types of noise and more
What is color temperature: free photography cheat sheet
Common mistakes at every shutter speed (and the best settings to use)