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Part 3: Exposure


The Histogram

Without a doubt, the histogram is one of the coolest features of shooting digitally. It's a graphic representation of an exposure. It displays the shadows on the left, the mid-tones in the center, and highlights on the right. Get familiar with the histogram in your digital camera, and practice using it. You can find more resources online; as always, check your owner's manuals for more tips. Once you become familiar with it, and it is easy to master, you'll use it for every shot. This will help you determine if your images are over- or underexposed.



One way to shoot a variety of exposures while you're on the set is to use a function called AEB (this stands for "auto exposure bracketing"). Bracketing is when the camera allows you to shoot an underexposed image, a normal exposure, and an overexposed image. AEB will do this for you, and it will shoot your images simultaneously-in sequential order. You can choose the proper exposure later when you're working on a computer.

High Exposure

High Exposure

Correct Exposure

Correct Exposure

Low Exposure

Low Exposure


Exposure Compensation

Not all cameras have an AEB function. If you do not have it, most likely you will have one called "exposure compensation." Exposure compensations have five exposure settings: minus 2 stops, minus 1 stop, 0 (normal exposure), plus 1, and plus 2. Unlike AEB, it's not automatic. "Exposure compensation" means you'll have to go in and select the variances of exposures and shoot them one at a time. Nearly all cameras have exposure compensation. This is why I tell all of my students to become very familiar with it. It's the simplest way to change exposure, and you'll have a large range to choose from. This will make sure that you've definitely got your artwork photographed properly, with the right amount of exposure, before you move on to the next shot.


Minus 2


Minus 1




Plus 1


Plus 2