Today, I want to talk about exposure and focus, two extremely important topics that really are the base for a good photo but unfortunately, don't always receive the attention they need and deserve. Exposure is that triangle of ISO, shutter speed and aperture. If you're new to photography (and even if you're not), I highly recommend Bryan Peterson's book, Understanding Exposure. If you don't understand exposure, you won't be able to properly expose your photos with meaning. Sure, you may get lucky or auto mode may help you out but that's not understanding what you're doing.
So how do you always end up with perfectly exposed photos?
- Learn to shoot in manual. Your camera is not smarter than you.
- Understand the three different metering modes: matrix, center-weighted and spot. When you set your camera for the metering mode you want to use, you are telling the camera how to read light. My post here describes each mode and gives examples.
- Practice, practice, practice. Practice photographing in different light situations. Practice photographing with different metering modes. Pick up the camera and practice!
- It's okay to take test shots and then adjust your settings. If given the choice, I would rather have slightly underexposed photos than slightly overexposed photos. Personally, I find it much easier to edit a photo if it is underexposed rather than overexposed. Your goal should be to get the photo right in the camera though. You don't want to always have to rely on edits to fix a photo.
- Think in terms of light. This one may seem to be a bit out there but it's important. You need light to create a photograph. Whenever we are somewhere and I have my camera (and sometimes even when I don't have my camera), I monitor the light. Where is it coming from? What are the weather conditions? Overcast? Full sun? It's something you'll start to do without realizing you're doing it.