How To Increase Exposure On Camera

By | 09/11/2022

If you lot want to have more control over how you expose your images, you might retrieve that y’all need to utilize Manual mode and all of the complexities that come with it — but this isn’t truthful.

Exposure Bounty is a way to tweak your photographic camera’s sentence and go exactly the results that you lot want.

This guide volition explain how exposure compensation works and when you should use it.

We’ll also answer the questions well-nigh frequently asked by photography beginners on the topic of using exposure compensation to create better photos.

Y’all’re about to empathize why and so many professional photographers rarely use Manual mode and rely on Exposure Compensation instead.

So, allow’s become started!

What is Exposure Compensation?

Exposure Bounty is a way of tweaking the exposure that your photographic camera thinks is ‘perfect’.

When you shoot in Program, Aperture Priority way (Av or A), or Shutter Priority (S or Tv), your camera makes intelligent calculations to figure out which settings to use to get the perfect exposure.

This process is called metering.

In Program style, the metering looks at the varying amount of lite hitting the sensor and figures out what aperture value, shutter speed, and ISO are required in society for the effulgence to boilerplate out at a specific shade of grey.

This shade of grayness is often called “middle gray” or “eighteen% grey” and is used by all manufacturers as the basis of what makes a skillful exposure — trying to get as close every bit possible to what you see with your ain eyes.

Metering isn’t perfect, nonetheless. For instance, stiff backlighting such as shooting portraits with a setting sunday behind, or snowy scenes tin can confuse the camera, making your photographs also dark.

Equally a outcome, your backlit portraits might look similar silhouettes, and snowy scenes may finish up looking murky.

This is where Exposure Bounty can exist useful.

Exposure Compensation allows you to nudge the camera’s judgement slightly, telling it to make everything brighter or darker.

You can use Exposure Compensation to tell the camera to meter a scene based on a shade of gray that is darker or lighter than the xviii% gray that it would use unremarkably.

When you increment Exposure Compensation (due east.g., +one, +ii), your images volition go brighter, lifting your shadows.

When yous decrease Exposure Compensation (east.g., -1, -2), your images will get darker, protecting your highlights.

Which Camera Modes does Exposure Compensation piece of work in?

Exposure Compensation tin exist used in almost every mode. It’due south useful to know how Exposure Bounty varies in its behaviour depending on which style you are shooting in.

Information technology’s easiest to begin explaining this by understanding Aperture Priority way and Shutter Priority mode and to imagine that nosotros are shooting a scene where the light is not irresolute.

Aperture Priority Way

In Aperture Priority mode, you set your aperture and your camera automatically selects a shutter speed according to the brightness of the scene.

When y’all increase your Exposure Compensation by +1 to make your images brighter, your camera will halve the shutter speed in society to let in twice equally much light.

For example, if you have chosen an aperture of f/4 and an ISO of 100, let’s say that your metering organization has automatically chosen a shutter speed of 1/500th of a second.

If you then increase your Exposure Bounty by +i, your photographic camera will drop the shutter speed to 1/250th. This doubles the corporeality of light entering reaching the sensor.

If instead, you were to set up your Exposure Compensation to -1, your metering organisation volition increase the shutter speed to 1/1000th. This halves the amount of lite reaching the sensor.

Shutter Priority Fashion

In Shutter Priority mode, you gear up your shutter speed and your metering system automatically selects an aperture according to the brightness of the scene.

As before, increasing the Exposure Compensation to +one will make your images brighter, only this time the camera volition double the size of the aperture to allow in twice as much low-cal.

For example, if you lot take called a shutter speed of i/500th and an ISO of 100, let’southward say that your metering system has automatically chosen an aperture of f/

If you then increase your Exposure Compensation by +1, your photographic camera will double the size of the discontinuity by opening it up to f/four.

Conversely, decreasing the Exposure Bounty by setting it to -one would cause your camera to halve the size of the aperture by closing it downward to f/8.

The shutter speed chart above should help explain this.

Auto ISO

It’southward worth noting that most modern cameras allow you to permit the metering system set the ISO automatically, regardless of the shooting mode that yous’re using.

By default, cameras tend to keep the ISO as low as possible in order to requite the best prototype quality (i.due east., the least corporeality of noise).

For this reason, setting the Exposure Compensation will crusade the camera to alter the shutter speed or aperture earlier it decides to change the ISO.

Program Mode

How Exposure Compensation affects the exposure when using Program mode depends on the camera. You might detect that information technology always changes your exposure, or you might observe that it does nothing at all.

On some cameras, Exposure Compensation only works in Program style if you’re not using Auto ISO.

Manual Manner

Because you are setting the variables yourself, Exposure Compensation will non exercise anything to your image if you effort to change it while shooting in Manual mode.

Nevertheless, if you lot are in Transmission mode and y’all select Auto ISO, Exposure Bounty will vary the ISO to give different exposures.

How exercise you fix Exposure Bounty in Transmission Way?

In Manual mode, yous choose the shutter speed, aperture, and ISO. Considering at that place is no variable that the camera is setting automatically, changes to Exposure Compensation volition non have any effect.

Withal, there is an exception.

Slightly confusingly, the Transmission mode on nigh digital cameras still gives you lot the option to ready the ISO to Auto. This ways that the camera is now computing the right exposure and changing the ISO accordingly.

Equally a result, Exposure Compensation will have an effect in Manual mode if your ISO is set to Auto.

Increasing the Exposure Compensation to +i will cause the camera to double the ISO, creating a brighter paradigm.

Decreasing the Exposure Compensation to -one volition cause the camera to halve the ISO, creating a darker epitome.

How is Exposure Compensation Measured?

Exposure Compensation is measured in relation to Exposure Value, sometimes referred to as “stops” and often divided into thirds.

Exposure Value is a scale that measures the amount of lite that is striking your camera’s sensor. Agreement how information technology works is non hugely important, then don’t worry too much!

In terms of Exposure Compensation, the exposure that your camera thinks is “normal” is always 0 (cipher) and most cameras then allow you to adjust this by increments of 1/3 of a terminate, normally to a maximum of 3 stops.

When Should You Adjust Exposure Bounty?

You should use Exposure Compensation in situations when you realise that your camera is not making the best decisions to give you the right exposure.

Of course, the “right” exposure is a personal judgement! Yous might be making a creative decision to over or underexpose, or you might know that your photographic camera is being fooled and that yous demand to right it.

For case, as bright as modern cameras are, they can yet struggle with snowy scenes, making photos expect a bit duller than in reality.

This happens considering a camera volition attempt to boilerplate out a lot of the snow so that information technology matches the xviii% grey mentioned earlier.

If y’all’re heading out for a solar day of photographing in the snow, you might want to set your Exposure Compensation to +i to take this into consideration.

You might find that something similar happens when photographing someone positioned with their back against a white wall. The camera will often recollect that the white wall is very vivid and choose an exposure that is too dark equally a result.

Increasing the Exposure Compensation can correct this.

Cameras can as well struggle with strongly backlit subjects. For example, if you’re taking a portrait of someone standing with their back to the setting sun, yous might find that y’all capture a perfectly exposed sky while the person is almost a silhouette.

To address this, you could increase your Exposure Compensation until your subject area’s skin becomes more normal in your photographs.

Depending on the mode that you are shooting in, your camera might reduce the shutter speed or open up up the aperture in social club to permit more light to accomplish your sensor.

Similarly, y’all might observe yourself shooting in a woods where the photographic camera has decided that the tree trunks need to exist nicely exposed.

However, this ways that the sunlight coming in through the leaves is very bright and the heaven is completely blown out as a consequence.

You lot may decide to decrease your Exposure Compensation, allowing you to capture the effulgence of the heaven, and knowing that you lot can lift the dark areas of the image (i.e., your tree trunks that are seem underexposed) when you come to edit the photograph later.

In the example below, I chose to use Exposure Compensation to make the heaven slightly darker and protect my highlights. When I gear up the Exposure Compensation to -1, the camera doubled the shutter speed in order to create a darker exposure.

Understand your histogram

Knowing when to apply Exposure Compensation makes understanding your histogram really important, especially when you consider that the epitome you see on your camera’s LCD can sometimes be misleading.

For example, if you are shooting at nighttime, the LCD viewed in dark conditions can make your photographs look much brighter than they actually are.

If you lot don’t also check your histogram, y’all might come home with photographs that are all underexposed, even though they looked fine on the LCD.

Past dissimilarity, the histogram is much more consequent. When you empathise it, a quick glance volition oftentimes tell you if you demand to apply Exposure Compensation.

How do you read a histogram on a camera? Y’all might already know that the histogram that tin exist viewed on the back of your camera gives you a graphical representation of how an paradigm has been exposed.

Blacks and shadows show up on the left, midtones are in the middle, and highlights and whites announced on the right.

If a photo is underexposed, the graph may be stacked upward confronting the left-hand side of the histogram.

Anything that’s too far to the left to the extent that it’s no longer on the graph is information that is lost and can’t be recovered when y’all come up to editing.

On a DSLR photographic camera, y’all can see the histogram when viewing your images unremarkably by cycling through the options equally a upshot of pressing “Display” or “Info” depending on the manufacturer.

On a mirrorless camera, too every bit viewing the histogram for image that you have taken, you tin can also take the camera evidence you a live histogram that you can see through your EVF while you are composing your photo.

Similarly, an overexposed photograph has a graph that is stacked upwards on the right, and you lot may accept lost information in the highlights.

In the case above, wait how the “mountains” in the histogram seem to disappear out of the graph to the left on the underexposed photograph, and to the right for the overexposed photo.

Agreement your histogram means that you’ll take a better idea of when to use Exposure Compensation as y’all will be able to brand a judgement as to whether a photograph is exposed correctly.

If you are worried that the photographic camera is overexposing a scene (perhaps your histogram shows information that’s disappearing out of the right-manus side), y’all can reduce your Exposure Compensation (for case, -1).

This may help yous to “protect the highlights” — i.due east., prevent the bright areas of an image from becoming so white that you lot can’t see any details, even when you lot come to edit the photo.

Similarly, if you’re concerned that the photographic camera is underexposing a scene (the histogram shows data that’south existence lost to the left-paw side of the graph), you tin increase your Exposure Compensation (for example, +1). This will assistance to avert losing information in the shadows.

Knowing how much flexibility y’all have based on your histogram comes through experience of shooting and using exposure compensation.

You will rapidly learn how much you can lift shadows or recover highlights when you edit your photographs.

In turn, this volition inform your decision-making when y’all’re out shooting, giving y’all a practiced idea of when to apply Exposure Compensation.

How do you Ready Exposure Compensation?

How yous modify your Exposure Compensation will depend on your camera. Whether you shoot Catechism, Nikon, Sony or any other brand, larger cameras oftentimes have a chunky dial that is a design choice carried over from moving picture cameras.

These dials are quicker and nicer to use only information technology’s very easy to set your Exposure Compensation and and so forget to change it back again!

Smaller and less expensive cameras often have a button with plus and minus symbol in a box that y’all accept to agree down while turning a scroll wheel.

The push button will be placed differently depending on your camera and manufacturer – here’s how to exercise set exposure compensation on Canon entry-level cameras, and here’s how you might do information technology on a Nikon camera.

In the above photo, the exposure compensation dial is shown on a Sony mirrorless photographic camera, while in the images below, the button is on a Canon DSLR.

When y’all concord downward this push, the display on the back of the camera (or on superlative, if your photographic camera has one) will show the changes on a scale that runs from -iii to +iii.

You will run across a small-scale dot that slides effectually underneath the calibration equally you turn the ringlet wheel and the example below shows that the Exposure Bounty is set up to +one:

Typically, you will likewise see this scale when you look through the viewfinder of your DSLR or mirrorless camera.

If you change your Exposure Bounty, always try to remember to change it back equally it’s like shooting fish in a barrel to forget.

Terminal Words

Exposure Compensation is a quick manner to take control of your exposure.

You might assume that professional person photographers all utilise Transmission mode, tweaking each exposure value through intuition.

The reality is that countless experienced photographers employ Aperture Priority mode or Shutter Priority mode and and so use Exposure Compensation to override their camera whenever they think information technology might be making the wrong decision.

Learning how to apply Exposure Bounty will help y’all to lift shadows and protect highlights in those moments when the camera isn’t quite smart enough to empathize how you want your photographs to be exposed.

In one case you go your head around metering and histograms, using Exposure Compensation volition become 2d nature.

Hopefully, this guide has been useful and if you have any questions or additional thoughts, be sure to leave a comment below. Happy shooting!


eight Tools for Photographers

Check out the 8 essential tools to help you succeed equally a professional person photographer.

Includes limited time discounts.

Larn more here