Exposure Summary

Important points covered in this lesson –

  • Metering – what the different options are & when to use them
  • Stops – as a measure of the amount of light
  • Histogram – how to read and interpret its information
  • Exposure Compensation – how to use this to adjust exposure (lighten/darken your image)
  • Dealing with difficult lighting – what to do when the histogram’s content is touching both the right and the left sides of the histogram

If  you don’t know the above as well as you know your own name, you should go back through this lesson again. Understanding exposure is absolutely fundamental to everything having to do with photography.


One last point that was mentioned but not covered in depth – shoot in RAW! There are many, many advantages to using RAW. As a general statement, almost any camera setting can be changed/adjusted after the fact in your RAW conversion software (which converts RAW to JPEG or TIFF). For example, suppose you accidentally shot a landscape with your White Balance set to Tungsten. The colors would be all wrong. Further, it would be almost impossible to correct satisfactorily in software afterwards. If you shot in RAW then later, when you realized your error, you could simply change the WB setting to daylight. No such option exists if you shot in JPEG. Among the most important advantages in RAW are the ability to –

  • Make exposure compensation adjustments after the fact with results comparable to what you’d have gotten had you made these changes in-camera when shooting; great for those times when you didn’t do what was needed when first capturing the image. The result is superior to those achieved using Photoshop tools such as Levels or Curves.
  • Adjust white balance (color settings) after the fact. If you mess up the WB setting when you’re shooting, in some cases you’ll never be able to fix it later. If you shoot in RAW you can change WB after the fact for the identical result you’d have gotten had you done it right in-camera.
  • One error that RAW offers no help for is an incorrect ISO setting. If you choose an ISO that’s too high and results in unacceptable noise your only recourse is trying noise reduction software
  • These are the most important, but there are other advantages as well. Just remember, with few exceptions like ISO, RAW allows you to undo & redo any and all of your camera settings at will after you’ve loaded the RAW file to your computer.