Anyone who aspires to become a professional photographer one day is often advised to first get acquainted with its camera. An honest courtship with your camera is your first transition as an amateur towards professional photography. Logically, our camera should trust us and we trust it – it’s a mutual thing. Without this belief our captured photos will not be completely true, if we seek to catch our inner perspective and feelings through the lens.
Photography is both an art and a science. Creativity may not always ensure decent outcomes. One has to approach with the client’s requirements and expectations, results must be creative gems along with being commercially viable and pleasing to public. Traditional photography techniques may not prosper in every domain which paved way for Digital Photography. With the advent of DSLRs (Digital Single Lens Reflex) cameras, Digital Photography has entered a completely new chapter. DSLRs has given us immense power in our hands with umpteen picture modes, image stabilizer, exposure settings, ISO, shutter speed, aperture, etc. all these combined have inspired new horizons in the domain.
As such, apt understanding of all the features is more than a necessity in order to achieve superb results. Sometimes, it’s frustrating to have pictures that are either too bright or too dark. If one faces this predicament, then it’s highly probable that the person isn’t much familiar with Exposure Metering or Camera Metering.
Camera meters are the sensors installed on the camera body that give exposure reading. It’s very likely that the sensor gives an incorrect reading, because the camera meters measure reflected light and also if the subject is darker or lighter than usual. Also many a times, incorrect exposure reading may arise from the metering mode set on your camera. Exposure modes are available on most cameras depending upon the model and brand, such as Center-Weighted Metering, Spot Metering, Partial Metering and Evaluative Metering.
Also called as Matrix Metering, this mode works almost on the entire scene. It tries to balance out the exposure from readings taken from multiple spots from the overall scene. It is most suitable for landscapes and any other subject, which is evenly lit.
This mode stresses the exposure toward the center of the view finder. The mode is ideal for a bright sky above a darker landscape. Center-Weighted Metering works like a peach when the subject is situated in the center of the frame. A reframe would be required if the subject happens to be away from the center, the view finder would need a little adjustment so it points at subject, then press the shutter button half-way down to lock in the exposure. The results are highly predictable in this mode which is why, the mode served as standard metering mode for years. These days Evaluative Metering and Matrix Metering modes are also set standard as they are compliant with the Auto Exposure settings.
This mode requires some practice. It’s a self learning exercise and particularly helpful when you are exploring portrait photography. It gives you much more control on the exposure of your images and despite facing few problems initially, Spot Metering mode will lead you to results you have never thought were possible or the ones you thought were digitally doctored or photoshopped! Spot metering is very often used because of its focusing area is very small and hence very limited in terms of detailing. Uncertainty underlines biggest pros.
Spot Metering works wonder when a bright subject is against a dark background, the situation can be experienced at music concerts, theater performance, music recitals, etc. Spot Metering mode will focus on the subject and ignore the back ground; the results would be more upbeat and unusual yet beautiful!
There’s not much difference between Spot Metering & Partial Metering modes. Both of them weights the exposure as a spot on the view finder, just the view-finder circle of Partial Metering mode is much bigger than Spot Metering mode’s spot circle. Like spot metering, it comes handy for metering brightly lit subjects against dark backgrounds.
Exposure Compensation (EC)
Exposure compensation is a feature provided in DSLRs for increasing or decreasing the exposure depending upon the need. If the photo is underexposed, EC is used to increase the exposure by a stop or two. If the photo is overexposed, you can use exposure compensation to reduce the exposure.
Exposure compensation is ideal for compensating for the camera metering shortcomings caused by the subject's reflectance. Many extreme situations require EC because the exposure information provided by the camera is faulty. Hence, for optimal exposure correction one needs to manually change the EC stops using +/- button on the camera. The compensation values are rounded and, as a result, the displayed values are -2.0, -1.7, -1.3, -1.0, -0.7, -0.3, 0.0, +0.3, +0.7, +1.0, +1.3, +1.7 and +2.0.