Expose for shadows/highlights

Started 3 months ago | Discussions thread
peripheralfocus Veteran Member • Posts: 4,694
another simple idea I should have mentioned

You can also use your feet or your zoom lens, if you have one, to concentrate the meter's reading on the shadow or highlight you care about.

I'll talk about about doing this with shadows: If your meter reads the whole area that you can see in the viewfinder, then walk up to the part of the scene that contains the darkest shadow that is important to you. Or, if you have a zoom lens, then zoom into that area. Fill the frame with that shadow and see what the meter recommends. (If your camera has a spot meter, then just place the spot on the shadow tone.)

Most of the time, you can just use that recommended exposure. Technically, it will overexpose the shadow, but usually that's no problem. Still, if you're worried about it, you can reduce the exposure by one or two stops from what the meter recommends, and you'll still be fine. You will have "exposed for the shadows".

In a portrait, for example, if your subject is wearing a dark jacket, and you care about getting detail in that jacket, just walk up (or zoom in), fill the viewfinder frame with the jacket, set the exposure according to the meter's recommendation, then back up and shoot the picture. Or set the exposure one stop darker than the meter's recommendation. Either setting would provide a generous exposure for the shadows, and highlights would be very unlikely to blow out (on negative film).

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