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Friday, February 19, 2010


Go ahead, call me a loser. I deserve it. I never got around to doing Q&A last week. I know! And I'm sorry, m'kay?

Onto those Q&A's:

How do you get consistent exposure? It seems like I'm always underexposing my images. Let me let you in on a little secret: I used to consistently underexpose my images by 1/3 a stop, and I still do sometimes. But this question, though it seems simple, can actually have a very detailed answer. Today I'm going to give you the Reader's Digest version (who here actually reads Reader's Digest, because I'm telling you, it rocks...especially the joke section. My MIL who lives with me gets it, and I steal it sometimes...shhh). Okay, so first of all, if you are new to photography a very easy way to start understanding how to expose your images is to turn your camera on auto. Yes, I said auto. Take a picture. What were the settings? Is the image exposed properly? If so, that's a good place to start. If not, that's also a good place to start. Assuming you understand what I mean by good exposure (no blown highlights or shadows so deep they've lost detail), you can now put your camera in manual, choose the settings that you were shown in auto, and tweak them from there to achieve better exposure.
Now, another good place to start (and often the way I begin my exposure) is by throwing that camera into manual, and looking into the viewfinder. I use Canon, so I'm familiar with that, but my Pentax was very similar, and I'm assuming most low-mid level DSLRs are the same. When you look into the viewfinder turn your little eye around and around until you see something that looks like this:

or like this:

You see the line in the middle? That's usually where you want to be. You see how on each of these there is one side that reads negative and one that reads positive? Well, by changing your dials around, you'll be changing your exposure to overexpose or underexpose from center. Generally lining your cursor up at the mid point gives you a reasonable exposure; however, this does not always give you a perfect exposure. This can even change if you change your metering options change (if you want more info on metering how to and options, let me know). Some cameras consistently underexpose when exposing to the center line, WHICH MEANS, it's up to YOU to change the exposure (overexpose) to get the perfect exposure.
Now, every lighting scenario is different. I shoot my exposure differently depending on if I'm in full sun, shade, a dark alley, a field of grass, overcast skies, or with external lighting equipment. This part of the subject delves much deeper, but one book I always recommend is Understanding Exposure by Bryan Peterson.

Okay, that's all I've got time for today, folks, but keep those questions coming! I'm getting a great list of questions going and I hope to put up a few each week.

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