achieving proper exposure is very important because it allows you to not only portray your surroundings accurately through an image, but it allows you to preserve the details within the image. should your photo be too bright or too dark, you may loose important detail that should be included in your photograph. when focusing on the light that you give an image, keep these 5 tips for achieving proper exposure in mind.
trying to decide if you should keep or toss a photo? be sure to try these 3 things before you delete a photo when editing.
5 Tips for Achieving Proper Exposure
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1. Take Control of Your Camera
one of the easiest tips for achieving proper exposure is to take control of your camera and shoot in manual mode. when you are in manual mode, you are making the decisions for your camera instead of allowing your camera to make the decisions for you. you are allowed to tell your camera how much light you want to bring in or leave out of your frame, as you manipulate your settings.
are you scared on manual mode? i was too…for a really long time. manual mode definitely confused me, until i read this. then i finally understood.
2. Think Through Your Settings
as you are photographing, be sure you are really thinking through your camera settings and continue to ask yourself if they make sense. is your ISO high enough to bring in more light to your camera? don’t be afraid to bump up your ISO! two quick and easy ways to brighten up your images is by raising your ISO and/or lowering your aperture to a smaller number to bring more light into your camera. think through your settings and make adjustments accordingly. as you are adjusting your settings, remember that a properly expose images is metered to 0 (zero). in the diagram below, your goal is to make sure your settings (ISO, aperture, and shutter speed) all work together to balance to zero, which is considered proper exposure.
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3. Monitor Your Back of Camera Constantly
one of the easiest ways to ensure proper exposure is by trial and error. as you are photographing, be sure to make a habit out of constantly monitoring your back of camera to ensure that your photos look exposed. by constantly monitoring, you can quickly make adjustments to your camera settings to either raise or lower your exposure in camera instead of relying on post processing to fix your exposure after the fact. monitoring the back of your camera helps you with achieving proper exposure while you are photographing in a variety of light situations, as the light is always changing.
4. Be Aware of Blown Highlights and Clipped Blacks
while it is important to monitor your highlights and blacks in camera, i do this more in lightroom. the easiest way to ensure that you are not blowing your highlights and clipping your blacks is by turning on the highlights and black indicators in lightroom. on the upper left and upper right of your histogram in the develop module of lightroom, you will see two triangles. the blacks indicator is on the left, the highlights indicator is on the right. simply click on each triangle to turn on the indicator. if you are blowing highlights, the image will turn red to indicate the areas in which the highlights are blown. if you are clipping blacks, your image will indicate those areas in blue. this allows you to make the necessary adjustments with your sliders to heal those areas to achieve proper exposure.
clipping blacks and blowing highlights means that you are losing relevant information because those areas are too dark or too bright, respectively. by either darkening or brightening those areas, you are preserving lost information within your photo. for some photographers, they like to intentionally blow highlights or clip blacks because its part of their photography style. this is totally okay! but i encourage you to understand the rules of exposure before you decide what rules to break.
5. Monitor Skin Tones
one of the easiest tips for achieving proper exposure is to monitor skin tones, if you are photographing a person. while photographing a person, keep their skin in mind as your are adjusting your settings and make sure that you are making it look as real as possible as you think about exposure. as you choose your camera settings and begin photographing, check your back of camera and compare the skin tones that you are photographing to the skin tones of the person right in front of you. do they match? are they accurate?
achieving proper exposure is a skill that takes a lot of practice and comes with time. be patient with yourself and allow yourself the grace of time to learn about exposure. do your best to achieve proper exposure straight out of camera, but for those times when you don’t, adjust your exposure in lightroom and try again next time! it took me years to really understand exposure so don’t worry if it takes you a little time as well. photography is a journey. by keeping these 5 tips for achieving proper exposure in mind, i hope it inspires you to monitor your exposure better to create better images.
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