26 Nov 2007

How do I get the correct exposure

One of the questions my students ask most often is - which metering mode should I use? Well I can only say what works for me - I always use the 'M' Manual Mode because I like to be in total control of my camera and to interpret what I see the way I see it.
I nearly always select the 'Centre-Weighted' option.

There are exceptions, though, and for the picture of the butcher in the market in Kashmir, I used the 'spot' metering mode.

With his white clothes against a black background, this sort of high contrast subject is one of the most difficult of all to meter accurately. This is when 'Spot' metering really is useful. I pointed the camera downwards towards the meat he was cutting. This area of the picture is fairly bright, but not completely white. Had I taken the exposure off his white clothes, the bright, reflected light would have given a false reading and the picture would be under-exposed. If the reading had been taken of the black background, the image would have been over-exposed and the whites would have 'burnt-out'.

Remember, when you are using ‘M’ (Manual) mode and you take your light reading from a particular area of the subject. DO NOT be tempted to adjust the exposure again when you point the camera back to compose your picture. You may see the metering indicator 'needle' move. Remember – you took your reading off one area of your subject for a good reason. The metering indicator or 'pointer' may well move. Ignore it and take your picture – don’t ‘chase the needle’.
If you have any questions - just post and I'll do what I can to help.
Philip Dunn


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