What better way to start off a blog than by eradicating bad information. To do this I’m going to be using the info graphic above. Not everything listed is necessarily bad advice, but it’s not entirely accurate.
Maybe you want to become a professional wedding photographer, portrait photographer, hell even a wedding videographer. The basic principles of operating a camera are pretty much the same. Check out the exposure section in the graphic. Notice how they claim that +3 stops is too bright and -3 stops is too dark. This couldn’t be further from the truth. The only exception would be if our world were 30% grey, which it isn’t. You see, a DSLR is nothing more than a highly advanced electronic device with all sorts of logarithms. It doesn’t see what you see as your looking through the view finder. It takes the overall scene: the darks and lights and comes up with a suggested exposure value. It does this based on the calculation that the scene you are seeing is 30% grey. So what the hell does this mean? It means that the camera is assuming you are always shooting on a heavily over cast day.
So when your shooting at noon with the blazing sun it doesn’t have an accurate calculation for this. Let’s say your photographing or videoing with the sun behind your subject. Not only is the sun as bright as a supernova your subject has some shadows on his face. You’re in a pinch, don’t have an assistant and there are no trees around to offer shade. What do you do? If you follow the advice above in this situation your subject will be close be a silhouette.
Anytime the background is brighter than your subject you need to overexpose the scene by one and a half or two stops. Why? I’m glad you asked. The very bright background is sending signals to the sensor and the sensor is saying… wait, this guy is taking photos on the sun! This scene is entirely too bright so we need to drop down two or three stops. That’s why if you take the photograph with the exposure level of 0 your subject will be a silhouette and your background will be more properly exposed.
The same would be true if your subject is properly lit and the background is too dark. If you follow the advice above your subject will be completely blown out. Instead of raising the exposure level you will want to lower it.
Check out the video below to see all of this in action.
Stay tuned for more training from the mothership…