What’s That Little Line Thingy Part 2

Last month we took a look at your internal light meter. We worked on getting that little line right to the middle for a correct exposure.

But do you always want it there?

Let’s take it a step further this month by looking at a situation when you DON’T want the line to be in the middle.

Let’s give it a name.

When shooting in Aperture Priority Mode (AV/A) or Shutter Priority (TV/S) we call it EXPOSURE COMPENSATION.

When shooting in Manual Mode we call it over exposing or underexposing.

The same thing is happening with each, just two different ways of making it happen.

Let’s try it first in Aperture Priority Mode. (Yep, 8 steps, but they are quick and small.)

  1. Start by placing your camera in Aperture Priority Mode.
  2. Place something in front of a bright window or doorway. (A face is great if you can find a cooperative one.)
  3. Notice that your little line thingy is right in the middle. Your camera has selected the correct exposure.
  4. Go ahead and press the shutter and see what happens.
  5. Did you shoot a hot mess? Face dark, background bright? I thought you might.
  6. So, let’s change it up with Exposure Compensation to get a photo you like.
  7. Point your camera at your subject. Line thingy in the middle.
  8. Move the back dial on your camera toward the right. (The button may be different on your camera.) You are now adjusting the exposure compensation. You’ll notice the little line thingy is going to the right or the + side. It will look something like this.

Aren’t you amazing? You’ve just outsmarted the camera and taken a useable photo in a backlit situation! Congratulations.

Just a note of caution. When you use exposure compensation, remember to take it back to the midpoint when you are done. It can cause a lot of confusion when you pick up your camera next time!

Shooting in Manual Mode? The steps are similar, kind of.

  1. Start by placing your camera in Manual Mode.
  2. Place something in front of a bright window or doorway. (A face is great if you can find a cooperative one.)
  3. Notice that your little line thingy is all over the place.
  4. Meter for your subject.
  5. This may give you an okay result, but you want more.
  6. Overexpose by one stop. In simple terms, move the little line thingy to the +1. You can do that by either changing your shutter speed or your aperture. Look through your viewfinder as you fiddle to see the line go to +1.
  7. Take a photo.

In both situations your subject be exposed correctly, but the background will be bright. It’s a trade off I can live with!

Got it? Congratulations. You know now one situation when you don’t want that little line thingy right in the middle. Practice, I promise it will become second nature.

There are even more situations when you want to outsmart your light meter:

Mr. Green Jeans

Metering In Low Light

High Key Photography

Are you loving the little line thingy?