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Tutorials and artistic advices

Photography: Correcting the exposure

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Given that your camera's light sensor reduces the dominant brightness in the scene to a "middle grey", how can you tell your camera that the subject is darker or lighter? In A, S or M mode, your camera offers a precise way to do so using the exposure scale. By moving the cursor up or down on the scale, you can  specify that the scene should be brighter or darker.


Handy tips

  •  How you move the cursor depends on the selected mode.
  •  Each number up or down on the scale means twice as much (or less) light.


1. A (Aperture Priority) mode


Semi-automatic mode: you control the diaphragm aperture and exposure; the camera calculates the shutter speed required to obtain the aforementioned "middle grey".

  • The further towards +1... +2, etc that that you move the cursor, the more overexposed, i.e. brighter, the image will be, and the slower the shutter speed set by your camera.
  • The further towards – 1... – 2, the more underexposed, i.e. darker, the picture will be, and hence the higher the shutter speed.

Note: this mode gives you priority control over the depth of field, which is extremely useful when you wish to make a subject stand out from their surroundings, especially for portraits, or indeed landscapes.


2. S (Shutter Priority) mode


Semi-automatic mode: you control the shutter speed. As in A mode, you move the cursor up and down the exposure scale, allowing you to overexpose or underexpose the image: the camera sets a smaller or larger aperture accordingly.

  • Crucial when trying to freeze a moving subject or produce a controlled blur effect.


3. M (Manual) mode



Using the exposure scale for total aperture and speed control  By changing one or the other of the values you will see the indicator moving on the scale which will show whether the area being measured will be darker than medium grey (going towards -) or lighter (towards +) .





4. Exposure compensation parameters for different subjects


The following table is a guide to the exposure settings to use for ISO 100.


Camera settings


Skier on a brightly lit slope

f/5.6 at 1/1000

High shutter speed to freeze the movement

White sandy beach, snowy landscape

f/16 at 1/125

Small aperture, giving a large depth of field

Children running over white sand

f/8 at 1/500

High shutter speed to freeze the movement

Outdoor amateurs ports in sunny weather

f/5.6 at 1/250

If the shutter speed is too low to freeze the movement, try with f/4 at 1/500

The moon at night

f/8 at 1/250


People outdoors in sunny weather

f/8 at 1/125


People in overcast weather

f/4 at 1/125

A moderate burst of flash may improve the result

People taken against the light

f/5.6 at 1/125

A moderate burst of flash may improve the result

Lit street at night

f/2.8 at 1/15


Exposure compensation (A and S modes)

Person against a white wall

+ 1.5 EV on the scale

The larger the subject appears in shot, the less compensation required.

Close-up portrait of a face, white skin.

+ 1 EV


Close-up portrait of a face, coloured skin.

0-0.5 EV

With lighter non-white skin, stick to +0.5 EV

Close-up portrait of a face, coloured skin.

-0.5 to -1 EV



Suggested products

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See also

Photography: Exposure and light metering modes
Photographie : L’exposition - les différents modes de mesure de la lumière
All digital cameras have a built-in light meter or "exposure meter".
Photography: Colour balance
Photographie : La balance des couleurs
The light falling on a scene always has a predominant colour, such as yellow in the case of the sun, or an orangey hue in the case of tungsten bulbs, blue in the case of a cloudy sky or green in the presence of neon lighting.