The Dangers of Overexposing an Image and How to Avoid It

One of the most common mistakes beginners make is overexposing an image. This helpful video talks about why overexposure is so detrimental to a photo and the various methods you can use to prevent it from happening in your images.

Coming to you from James Popsys, this helpful video talks about the dangers of overexposing an image and the many ways you can prevent it or work around it. You might notice that often, photographers underexpose an image slightly and bring back the shadows in post. This is because unlike film, digital cameras have a hard cutoff for their exposure tolerance, and once that has been exceeded, there's no recovering the blown-out highlights. Many modern cameras have helpful guides to help show you if you've blown out the highlights, and mirrorless cameras in particular contain some very helpful real-time aids. In addition to Popsys' tips, I recommend turning on your camera's highlight alert system. This will flash a warning over any areas that have blown highlights when you review images. It's particularly helpful if you're shooting on a DSLR and don't have the real-time aids in the viewfinder, as it allows you to take a quick glance at the back LCD immediately after taking a shot to make sure your exposure is safe. Check out the video above for more helpful tips!

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4 Comments

Michael Dougherty's picture

On my Nikon D850 and Z7, I typically use auto ISO with Highlight Weighted Matrix Metering. The darker part of the image may be darker than normal but the white areas are never blown out. I'll deal with the dark areas in Photoshop. The extra pixels in both these cameras helps a lot.

Danger may be the incorrect word. Now, once upon a time, we used to use Farmer’s Reducer to reduce blown highlights on a physical negative. Now that was dangerous!

Kirk Darling's picture

Heh. there were several TRULY dangerous processes we used back then.

The darkroom was the lair of the brave.

I cannot imagine the average Instagram influencer making photos with an analog camera and then processing both film and prints in a home darkroom. Perhaps they would even occasionally use selenium, while eating a ham sandwich. I had a teacher who would tone prints in his kitchen. In fact I did too. This was before Material Data Sheets and WHMIIS became mandatory in Canada. The history of the arts is also a history of toxicity.