Exposing for the subject

Once in a while a situation will present itself that can lead to some pretty dramatic natural lighting. A few things need to go right. You need the sun behind you and illuminating your subject. You need a background that is darker than your subject. And then you need to be careful and make sure you expose for the brightest part of your subject. In the examples below, if the metering was left up to the camera, the brightest whites would hold no detail and the whole scene would be rendered a neutral gray. By exposing for the highlights, you’re keeping detail in the brightest parts of the scene and letting the rest fall to black. Then, only a little burning is needed in post processing to finish the job. There’s any number of ways to accomplish this; spot metering can sometimes work, taking control of your exposure in Manual mode, or just relying on Exposure compensation. But the important thing is to learn to tell the camera to do what you want it to do. Not vice versa.

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