Why fix it in post when you can do it right in camera? Learn how you can get a perfect exposure in camera every time!
Often when were out shooting in the field, we get carried away and catch ourselves saying we'll "just fix it in post." But what happens when you get to Photoshop later and you realize your blacks are crushed, or your highlights are blown out (this is especially evident in black-and-white photography)? In this quick article, learn in just five easy steps for how to get the perfect exposure in-camera every time.
STEP 1: Expose for the Scene
On every camera on the market, there is a way to read the exposure of the scene you're shooting. On your menu screen, you should see a bracket ranging from -3 (underexposed) to 0 (perfect exposure) to +3 (overexposed). This meter is reading the incident light in the scene and showing your relative exposure, which can be changed by adjusting your shutter speed, aperture, or ISO.
STEP 2: Read the Meter
When you're setting up your scene, keep in mind your incident exposure. To see what the incident exposure is, simply hold down your shutter half way (or however you set it on your camera), and the internal meter will pop up next to one of the numbers, usually -3 through +3.
STEP 3: Shoot a Neutral Exposure
To avoid having to reduce the highlights or lift the shadows in post, you want to make sure that your shadows, mid tones, and highlights are not blown out in-camera. Make sure that details can be seen in every area of the frame. The key thing to keep in mind is that whatever camera you're using, you want to be sure to underexpose your scene by at least one stop of light to ensure that no matter the scene, the details will remain intact. Adjust your shutter speed, aperture, or ISO to shift the number up or down.
STEP 4: Shoot Away!
Once you notice that the exposure line is in the right spot where all details are maintained, start shooting away! But keep in mind that when the light changes (if you're shooting in natural light), you need to adjust your exposure accordingly.
Below you can see images that are all straight out of the camera and have not been edited yet. The images below were also shot using both strobe and natural light.
The camera is the most powerful tool we have and should be taken advantage of. By taking just an extra few minutes on a shoot, you will save time later in Photoshop and are guaranteed to walk away with great photos in-camera. As the saying goes, "You can't fix a bad photo in Photoshop." So get it right in camera.
Have questions? Leave them in the comments below!