Getting the Exposure Right in the Camera

I apologize for not keeping up with my blog over the past three months. We have been very busy with road trips to Chicago and Pennsylvania; along taking a museum class at the local college and raking leaves –  it was a banner year for leaves. My New Year’s Resolution is to be more diligent and post at least one blog per month.

There are several things I would like to share in this blog.

The first of these is getting the exposure correct in the camera. Recently, I held a photo lesson in a park near a student’s home. The photos used were taken just after sunset.  With this type of lighting situation, it is difficult to get both the sky and the foreground properly exposed. So, the problem I faced was what metering mode is best? (See my metering modes  blog for more information)

 In this lighting situation, I saw two possible metering modes:
Matrix-comboEvaluative/Matrix/ESP/Pattern  or
C-weigh-comboCenter- Weighted metering modes.

Remember the histogram is a very useful tool which shows the range of luminosity for a given photo.  Your camera should be able to display a histogram on it’s LCD screen.  See your camera’s owners manual for details on how to display the histogram on your LCD. The histograms I show here are from Adobe Lightroom.  For more information see my blog on Histograms from November 2016.

While in the field I used the histogram displayed on my camera’s LCD.  (All photos were taken in RAW. Remember your camera’s LCD displays a JPEG of the photo. I use RAW as I want to retain all the information the camera sensor captures.

I’m going to present the process I used to achieve the best possible exposure in the camera.  First I used Evaluative/Matrix/ESP/Pattern Metering mode.


When I looked at the histogram (red ellipse) for the Evaluative/Matrix/ESP/Pattern photo the foreground is too dark and the sky is about right.  I know from previous photos I’ve taken where the sky is brighter than the foreground,  Center-Weighted metering sometimes can do a better job.


By using the Center-Weighted metering, the sky is too bright, but the  foreground is better.  So what if  I used Center-Weighted metering with plus-neg Exposure Compensation.
So next, I reduced the exposure by neg 1 (-1EV).  This I know will darken the sky, and hopefully retain some of the brightness I attained in the foreground.


When I look at the histogram above, it looks very much like the Evaluative/Matrix /ESP/Pattern photo I took at the start. Why? In simple terms, the overall difference between the bright areas to darker areas (i.e. dynamic range ) is too great for my camera’s sensor to capture what my eye can see.  So what’s next?  Given this dynamic range, I knew I needed to do some post processing, when I got home.

At home, I chose the Evaluative/Matrix/ESP/Pattern photo and adjusted the shadows slider to the right to make the foreground brighter.

Evaluative/Matrix/ESP/Pattern , CORRECTED

When I chosen the Center-Weighted -1EV and made the same shadow slide adjustment, the result is sightly better in the foreground.



The histogram is a good guide to getting the best exposure possible.  Here I believe the Center-Weighted -1EV  did a little better job when I look at the histogram and see the green channel is sightly brighter, i.e. moved to the right, than in the Evaluative/Matrix/ESP/Pattern corrected photo.

With today’s digital cameras some post processing is often required.  I presented my quick fix process in the blog on Haze RemovalWhen I apply all the same techniques on the photo above the end result is:


I believe this supports my conclusion, from my earlier blog on metering modes, that Center-Weighted metering is usually better with bright sky and darker foreground lighting.

Here’s two additional articles you could find useful:

5 Exercises to help you better understand Histograms



Wishing You All the Best for a Happy and Safe Holiday!  










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