exposure compensation in camera

What is Exposure Compensation in Photography

The amount of light that enters your DSLR’s image sensor is called Exposure. Aperture, Shutter Speed and ISO (Holy Trinity of Photography) form the Exposure Triangle; they work together to create a properly exposed image. You can play/experiment with these 3 settings to change the exposure of your photograph.

What is Exposure Compensation (EC) and When to Use it

The DSLR’s meter calculates the light reflected off the object/subject and adjusts it to maintain the standardised middle gray aka 18% gray.

For instance, if the subject to be photographed is very bright, the light meter will darken the exposure to maintain 18% gray; if the subject is very dark, the light meter will brighten up the exposure. This adjustment is done by the meter so that the image created doesn’t turn out to be too dark or too bright.

But, you as a photographer, would want your image to come out, the way you remember seeing it while capturing it, right? To do so, you will have to use Exposure Compensation (EC) to rectify/override the meter’s gray setting.

How to use Exposure Compensation/ Understanding Exposure Compensation Settings

Exposure Compensation

Remember – Exposure Compensation doesn’t work in Manual Mode. You can use Exposure Compensation (EC) setting in aperture priority mode, shutter priority mode or program mode; since these are semi-automatic modes and allow exposure adjustments.

When you are Photographing a Polar Bear in Snow

Since, both the polar bear and the snow are white/ very bright – the DSLR meter will adjust and bring the brightness down to 18% gray. So, the polar bear may appear grey in the photograph.

To rectify the image, you will have to dial up Exposure Compensation (EC). According to the polar bear’s image, take a call as to how much you want to dial up EC. Set EC to +3, +4 or +5 and again take a snap of the polar bear. Experiment with EC settings and capture images of the polar bear until you create an image where the polar bear looks white and not grey.

Light Trails / Street Photography at Night

Light Trails Photography

If you are capturing Street Photography at Night, the scene would look very dark. So, your DSLR’s light meter will brighten up the exposure to maintain 18% gray. And result in a washed-out image. So, you will have to dial down EC to -3, -4 or -5 to make the photograph resemble the natural night scene.

Camera Settings for Light Trails: Aperture: f/11, ISO: least ISO (Lo1), Shutter Speed: 25 secs, Exposure Compensation: -5

 Moon Photography

Moon Photography

In moon photography, after clicking a picture of the moon, it may happen that the moon looks like a white disc in the photograph. So, the trick here is to dial down EC (darken the exposure) to -2 or -3 so that the resulting image looks natural and depicts the craters on the moon’s surface.

We bring you ‘Jo & His Camera’ Comic Strips wherein a Magical Camera gives DSLR photography tutorials to Jo.

To understand Exposure Compensation, Click on the below Image to see the Comic wherein the Camera explains Jo, the concept of Exposure Compensation with the help of practical examples.

Exposure Compensation

When you do photography: Remember the 5E’s – Explore, Experiment, Experience, Enjoy & Express.  

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