Camera Metering and Exposure

Overexposed, underexposed. How to get it right

Red and White Lighthouse to Show Camera Metering and Exposure

Camera Metering and Exposure - If you already have an eye for a picture, as they say, the next big hurdle is to get the metering right.

So many people that have written in to ATP asking for help on metering. All have the same problem. They are all too often caught out by tricky lighting situations where the camera takes on a mind of its own and they end up with a poorly exposed image.

With practice, you can and will overcome this. You can learn to evaluate a scene and judge how the camera will record it. Then make any necessary adjustments.

Camera Metering and Exposure Tips and Tricks

There are also little tips and tricks that you can learn to help get the metering spot on each time. If you are unable to do it at the point of exposure, work out how best to capture the scene knowing you can adjust later in Photoshop or your favourite editing program.

For example, if you just have to leave part of the scene slightly underexposed, i.e. a shady or dark area, take the shot (in RAW mode if possible). Pull out the details by lightening the area in your editing program later on. Remember though, you cannot easily put back details from an overly overexposed image.

Hover over images for the "after" version. On mobile? Tap inside and outside of the images.

TIP: If shooting in a low light situation where flash is not allowed, indoor sports for example, try this. Shoot RAW and increase the ISO but also underexpose by adjusting the "exposure compensation" down by 2 stops (-2). This will give you 2 extra stops of critical shutter speed. Then simply re-adjust the exposure back up by 2 stops in your RAW editing program.

Luckily, as I shot RAW, I was, in Photoshop, able to:

  • Pull the details back
  • Punch up the colours a bit
  • Win a small competition with it

You just never know!

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