4 Ways To Monitor Exposure While Out in the Field

Getting exposure right can seem simple, but it's even easier to get it slightly wrong. While being marginally overexposed or underexposed can be rescued, having blown out highlights or completely black shadows means the details will be unrecoverable. Here are four ways to monitor exposure properly on location.

Trusting your eye and your judgement when exposing a scene can work if you're experienced, but it isn't a great move. Trusting the camera to make the exposure decisions for you can be even worse at times. There really is no downside to using the various tools we have at our disposal for checking the exposure of all elements in a scene and I think that part of the reason it isn't the norm is that people don't fully understand the methods, or they can't read the output.

From the day I bought my first camera until the day I understood how to read a histogram is an embarrassingly large gap. I knew it wouldn't be particularly difficult to learn and yet I didn't ever really bother to put the time in, and to my detriment might I add. But histograms aren't our only tool these days and if you're a videographer using an external monitor, for instance, you have other brilliant methods. My personal favorite of the four mentioned in this video is Zebra Pattern. It's a function — which can be tweaked as to exactly what it covers — that clearly highlights areas that are above or below exposure thresholds. That is, you can set it so that whenever a highlight is blown out, zebra stripes will overlay and show you exactly what has gone too far.

What's your preferred method of monitoring your exposure while out shooting?

Robert K Baggs's picture

Robert K Baggs is a professional portrait and commercial photographer, educator, and consultant from England. Robert has a First-Class degree in Philosophy and a Master's by Research. In 2015 Robert's work on plagiarism in photography was published as part of several universities' photography degree syllabuses.

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