Tweak your reading at the time of capture
September 23, 2008
Even with today's sophisticated DSLRs and many compact digital cameras, the ability to tweak the exposure at the moment of capture--and recognizing what tweaks you need to apply--can make or break your image's quality and content.
You can always put your DSLR in green mode and just point it at the subject and click. Many times this will produce an acceptable exposure. For those times when it doesn’t, you need to think about why the results are not what you expected and apply a different exposure technique, including the brightness range method. This technique involves taking two different readings from the scene you’re about to photograph.
Gateway to good exposure: Brightness range is a good method to use in deceptive-looking scenes like this one where I wanted to maintain the texture of the stone wall near the gate and the orange wall in shadows at the same time. Final exposure with Canon EOS 5D was 1/60 sec at f/4 and ISO 200. ©2006 Joe Farace
Start by taking a meter reading from the highlight area where detail is desired. A second reading is taken from the shadow area of the scene, again in the locations where you want the detail to be held. Your final manual camera setting will be based on an average of the two readings and that will be close enough, although you might to "bracket" by shooting a series of exposures of your subject varying exposures from what would normally be considered underexposure to overexposure. Some digital SLRs even have an automatic bracket option.