Exposure Compensation

May 24, 2010

You probably have heard a lot about exposure compensation when photographers talk about taking photographs, and wondered what all the fuss is about. Well, not all lighting situations are easy to shoot, that’s why photography is considered both an art and a science.

It is fairly easy for real life scenes to trick your camera’s exposure sensor and under or over expose your photograph. Sometimes you can fix the problem later with a program like Photoshop, but you would be much better off to expose the picture correctly to begin with.

The reason you want to get the exposure correct the first time is that an over or under exposed image is missing some information about colors, texture and detail which can never be restored afterward. Only at the moment of exposure can you be sure that all the information will be in your image.

When you base your exposure on the wrong portion of the picture you can find yourself with an over or under exposed photograph. There are, however, several ways you can correct your exposures when you see a problem in your viewfinder. They are using:

Most digital cameras come with an exposure compensation control, usually referred to as the EV adjustment. The EV control allows you to lock in and use the cameras recommended automatic exposure setting, but then adjust that value up or down based on factors that you’re aware of but that the camera may not be smart enough to see.

It is really the camera’s exposure sensor known as an exposure meter that does the majority of the work when figuring out how to shoot your picture. It decides how much light is needed to adequately expose your picture. Therefore, it comes as no surprise to learn that cameras distinguish themselves by the kind of exposure meter they use. Some meters are better than others at metering a scene and applying the right exposure.

Tomorrow we will discuss more about metering.

The exposure lock feature in most digital cameras, ias borrowed from 35mm camera technology, and it is one of the handiest tricks you can learn and master. Exposure lock is almost always achieved by applying slight pressure to the shutter release. Not enough to activate the shutter and take a picture, but enough that you feel the camera itself respond. This allows you to focus on the part of the image you want properly exposed, hold that exposure, and then re-frame your picture.

You may be perfectly satisfied with the results you get from the automatic exposure controls in your camera. But there will be times when you can do much better on your own. Some of these situations are when you’re in very bright sunlight, or your subject is back lit or you’re in a very low light situation.

It is very important to consider exposure when you’re taking your photograph. This is particularly true when you are working with photographing children. Again, learn the controls on your camera well and experiment. You’ll be glad you did.

A really great new camera is the Panasonic Lumix DMC-ZS7 12.1 MP Digital Camera with 12x Optical Image Stabilized Zoom and 3.0-Inch LCD. This is a great little
compact digital camera which has many of the controls we have been discussing, is a great value and a handy camera to carry and use when you are out and about with your children.

Remember, keep taking lots and lots of photographs of your kids. You will be glad you did!

Betty Muscott, Child Photographer

Betty Muscott, Child Photographer

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