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© Copyright 2017, Digital Photography Beginners. All rights reserved.

Correcting Your Photographs Using Exposure

Compensation

Ever noticed that some of your photos are really dark or looks washed out?

These things happen because the sensor in your camera that takes the reading for the automatic exposure can get fooled by certain lighting conditions. If you take a picture and there is a bright light source behind the subject you want to take a picture of, that light source will send too much light into the camera. Because the camera has no way to reason out what it is seeing, it has to rely on the information it can gather from the amount of light coming through the lens and falling on the sensor. It then tries to average the exposure out whilst not losing any of the bright areas within the picture, so the camera ends up exposing for the light source and NOT the subject. So when could that happen? It could happen: • If you take a photograph with the sun in front of you instead of behind you, (a sunset, or a group shot on holiday, for example) • If you take a picture when someone is standing against a window. • If you are standing in the shade (like on a balcony or under a tree) and there is bright scenery in the background, (as when you are on holiday and trying to get both yourself and the view from your hotel balcony in the same picture. • If there is a very light background, such as white stonework or a reflective surface like a mirror or glass. The opposite can happen too. Taking a photograph with a large amount of dark background behind the subject forces the camera to over compensate for the darkness. That causes the camera to let in more light than is needed to perfectly expose your subject. This gives you a photograph where the background is fine, but the subject you really wanted a picture of has been over exposed and is very pale with no detail. This can happen: • If you take a photograph when your subject is standing in front of a dark background. Because the camera exposes for the dark area, the real subject gets too much exposure. So your subject is light in colour and very bright compared to the background (like a wedding dress in the sunlight) you may lose the background altogether. • In this instance, because the grasses are in the sunlight, the camera has exposed for the bright subject, plunging the background into darkness. Exposure Compensation is not a cure for a perfectly exposed photograph, but it is a very quick fix for a lot of exposure problems and produces a decent result in most cases. But it can’t be applied just to a small area in the picture to even it out. You have to remember, when you apply Exposure Compensation, everything in the photograph will be affected by whatever change you make to the overall exposure. Take the image of the bride and her mother. By reducing the exposure by 1, 1.5 and 2 stops using the EV control, the subjects have a better overall appearance. Although the background darkens slightly, overall the main subject matter has a much better exposure, giving a much more pleasing photograph. By using the EV to reduce the exposure of the subject, there is now much more detail in the skin tones and other details. As the background doesn’t contain anything important to the picture, it doesn’t matter that much if it is too dark to make out any details. What happens if we need to adjust our exposure the other way to give the background some extra detail? Looking at the photograph of the sun-lit grasses, suppose we try to get some detail back in the background using Exposure Compensation. This time we need to give the photograph MORE exposure to help brighten up the shadow areas. As the background is given more exposure, you begin to see some detail and texture beginning to appear, but notice too that the grasses are getting lighter. With +2 stops of EV, the grass in the background is still dark but very recognizable. However, the sun-lit grass in the foreground is beginning to over expose. This is about the maximum compensation to apply to this image, but what if we take it one step further and get the background to almost the right exposure? You can see how the grass is now so bright that it contains almost no detail or any of the delicate purple hues of the original. Because Exposure Compensation affects ALL of the photograph, you need to get a balance you are happy with. You may lose some detail from one part of the picture but gain it back in the subject matter of the photograph that you want. Only you know what part of the photograph is more important to you, so make sure that you get that part of your image correctly exposed. But Exposure Compensation isn’t just a quick fix for exposure problems. Armed with the knowledge you have just gained, you can use it to create a few interesting or arty effects deliberately and not just by accident. Like using backlighting to create a silhouette. Backlighting is a term used when you deliberately use a light source behind the subject to light or highlight something about the subject. The sun is a great light source to use for a number of effects. One of my favourite effects happens late afternoon. The sun can give objects rim lighting – that beautiful golden halo of light that traces around the outline of a subject. Dropping the EV by 1½ stops, it has toned down the overall brightness, making the rim lighting on the girl really stand out. Both the tree and the girl are starting to become silhouettes but because the sun is not directly in front of the lens, the camera does not get the full brightness of the sun and so there is still detail both in the girl and the tree. But you can use the sun if you want to create a silhouette deliberately. First, you need to be sure that the sun (or whatever light source you are using) is in front of you, behind the subject and that you can see it through the camera. Second, using your EV compensation, go down between -1 and -1.5 stops, depending on the effect you want. This shot was taken at a concert using -1.5 EV. It works well to isolate performers and produce an interesting mood. Silhouettes work especially well when the light source is much brighter than the foreground. Use the limitations of the sensor to your advantage to produce an interesting skyline when the sun is going down to behind it, or you could frame a landscape with dark tree branches to add mood and visual interest. Because there is less light falling on the front of your subject, by exposing for the light behind the subject everything else in front will be virtually black, giving you deep, sharp silhouettes. Don’t be fooled by what you are seeing with your eyes. With the processing power of the brain, our eyes can adjust to help us to see details in an amazing range of highlights and shadows at the same time that a camera just simply hasn’t got the sensitivity or processing skill to duplicate. Once you get used to the way your camera sees light, you will be able to start experimenting with the look of some of your pictures. Apart from silhouettes, you can use the difference in light levels to isolate and highlight your subject, especially if you can make the background go very dark. If you place the light source very near to your subject and use your EV to give the subject the right exposure, you can really make your subject stand out. You can achieve great results too using a small window. Reduce the amount of light in the room by closing the curtains to a small slit, and then sit your subject in front of the gap. Using your EV scale, expose only for the subject and produce this stunning portrait effect. With practice, you will be able to find and use the exposure compensation setting to enhance the look of your pictures quickly. You need never miss out on capturing perfectly those moments that are important to you. So the next time you want to take a picture of someone standing in front of a window, you can dial in 1 or 2 stops on the + scale and amaze your friends by getting them perfectly exposed when their own photo will be too dark! But Exposure Compensation isn’t the final ingredient when it comes to ways of adjusting the exposure of your picture. As well as being able to change the Aperture and Shutterspeed settings, there is a third factor – the ability to change the speed at which the sensor reacts to light. This is known as the ISO and we’ll look at that next.
Digital Photography Beginners
© Copyright 2017, Digital Photography Beginners. All rights reserved.

Correcting Your

Photographs

Using Exposure

Compensation

Ever noticed that some of

your photos are really

dark or looks washed out?

These things happen because the sensor in your camera that takes the reading for the automatic exposure can get fooled by certain lighting conditions. If you take a picture and there is a bright light source behind the subject you want to take a picture of, that light source will send too much light into the camera. Because the camera has no way to reason out what it is seeing, it has to rely on the information it can gather from the amount of light coming through the lens and falling on the sensor. It then tries to average the exposure out whilst not losing any of the bright areas within the picture, so the camera ends up exposing for the light source and NOT the subject. So when could that happen? It could happen: • If you take a photograph with the sun in front of you instead of behind you, (a sunset, or a group shot on holiday, for example) • If you take a picture when someone is standing against a window. • If you are standing in the shade (like on a balcony or under a tree) and there is bright scenery in the background, (as when you are on holiday and trying to get both yourself and the view from your hotel balcony in the same picture. • If there is a very light background, such as white stonework or a reflective surface like a mirror or glass. The opposite can happen too. Taking a photograph with a large amount of dark background behind the subject forces the camera to over compensate for the darkness. That causes the camera to let in more light than is needed to perfectly expose your subject. This gives you a photograph where the background is fine, but the subject you really wanted a picture of has been over exposed and is very pale with no detail. This can happen: • If you take a photograph when your subject is standing in front of a dark background. Because the camera exposes for the dark area, the real subject gets too much exposure. So your subject is light in colour and very bright compared to the background (like a wedding dress in the sunlight) you may lose the background altogether. • In this instance, because the grasses are in the sunlight, the camera has exposed for the bright subject, plunging the background into darkness. Exposure Compensation is not a cure for a perfectly exposed photograph, but it is a very quick fix for a lot of exposure problems and produces a decent result in most cases. But it can’t be applied just to a small area in the picture to even it out. You have to remember, when you apply Exposure Compensation, everything in the photograph will be affected by whatever change you make to the overall exposure. Take the image of the bride and her mother. By reducing the exposure by 1, 1.5 and 2 stops using the EV control, the subjects have a better overall appearance. Although the background darkens slightly, overall the main subject matter has a much better exposure, giving a much more pleasing photograph. By using the EV to reduce the exposure of the subject, there is now much more detail in the skin tones and other details. As the background doesn’t contain anything important to the picture, it doesn’t matter that much if it is too dark to make out any details. What happens if we need to adjust our exposure the other way to give the background some extra detail? Looking at the photograph of the sun-lit grasses, suppose we try to get some detail back in the background using Exposure Compensation. This time we need to give the photograph MORE exposure to help brighten up the shadow areas. As the background is given more exposure, you begin to see some detail and texture beginning to appear, but notice too that the grasses are getting lighter. With +2 stops of EV, the grass in the background is still dark but very recognizable. However, the sun-lit grass in the foreground is beginning to over expose. This is about the maximum compensation to apply to this image, but what if we take it one step further and get the background to almost the right exposure? You can see how the grass is now so bright that it contains almost no detail or any of the delicate purple hues of the original. Because Exposure Compensation affects ALL of the photograph, you need to get a balance you are happy with. You may lose some detail from one part of the picture but gain it back in the subject matter of the photograph that you want. Only you know what part of the photograph is more important to you, so make sure that you get that part of your image correctly exposed. But Exposure Compensation isn’t just a quick fix for exposure problems. Armed with the knowledge you have just gained, you can use it to create a few interesting or arty effects deliberately and not just by accident. Like using backlighting to create a silhouette. Backlighting is a term used when you deliberately use a light source behind the subject to light or highlight something about the subject. The sun is a great light source to use for a number of effects. One of my favorite effects happens late afternoon. The sun can give objects rim lighting – that beautiful golden halo of light that traces around the outline of a subject. Dropping the EV by 1½ stops, it has toned down the overall brightness, making the rim lighting on the girl really stand out. Both the tree and the girl are starting to become silhouettes but because the sun is not directly in front of the lens, the camera does not get the full brightness of the sun and so there is still detail both in the girl and the tree. But you can use the sun if you want to create a silhouette deliberately. First, you need to be sure that the sun (or whatever light source you are using) is in front of you, behind the subject and that you can see it through the camera. Second, using your EV compensation, go down between -1 and -1.5 stops, depending on the effect you want. This shot was taken at a concert using -1.5 EV. It works well to isolate performers and produce an interesting mood. Silhouettes work especially well when the light source is much brighter than the foreground. Use the limitations of the sensor to your advantage to produce an interesting skyline when the sun is going down to behind it, or you could frame a landscape with dark tree branches to add mood and visual interest. Because there is less light falling on the front of your subject, by exposing for the light behind the subject everything else in front will be virtually black, giving you deep, sharp silhouettes. Don’t be fooled by what you are seeing with your eyes. With the processing power of the brain, our eyes can adjust to help us to see details in an amazing range of highlights and shadows at the same time that a camera just simply hasn’t got the sensitivity or processing skill to duplicate. Once you get used to the way your camera sees light, you will be able to start experimenting with the look of some of your pictures. Apart from silhouettes, you can use the difference in light levels to isolate and highlight your subject, especially if you can make the background go very dark. If you place the light source very near to your subject and use your EV to give the subject the right exposure, you can really make your subject stand out. You can achieve great results too using a small window. Reduce the amount of light in the room by closing the curtains to a small slit, and then sit your subject in front of the gap. Using your EV scale, expose only for the subject and produce this stunning portrait effect. With practice, you will be able to find and use the exposure compensation setting to enhance the look of your pictures quickly. You need never miss out on capturing perfectly those moments that are important to you. So the next time you want to take a picture of someone standing in front of a window, you can dial in 1 or 2 stops on the + scale and amaze your friends by getting them perfectly exposed when their own photo will be too dark! But Exposure Compensation isn’t the final ingredient when it comes to ways of adjusting the exposure of your picture. As well as being able to change the Aperture and Shutterspeed settings, there is a third factor – the ability to change the speed at which the sensor reacts to light. This is known as the ISO and we’ll look at that next.
Digital Photography Beginners