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Underexposure on photography course at Charlecote, Warwickshire

One of the problems when photographing flowers is that they are very reflective – it’s almost as if they were designed to reflect light or something!

WIth a dark background, sometimes your camera tends to brighten the image a little resulting in the pale flower being “blown”, or overexposed. We really need to tone the whole image down a bit to ensure that the flower can all be seen, after all the dark background is just background.

Helen's flower, on photography course at Charlecote

Helen's flower, on photography course at Charlecote

There are two ways to do this:

Firstly, you could set the metering to “center weighted” (sorry about the American spelling) – this kind of metering takes most of it’s reading from where you focused (not the middle if you half-pressed and moved) – 75% or so from a 25% area around the focus point. This means that the subject is more important than the background, which in this case it is.

Secondly, you could just use your +/- button to underexpose the whole thing, assuming you are in the clever P A S or P Av Tv modes. This will allow you to make the pic a bit too dark, which is fine.

Or you could do both – we usually use center-weighted and underexpose by .3 or .7 stops – we often photograph pale British people in underlit British rooms which can have the same blowing-out-the-pale subject effect. Under exposure is always better than over exposure (within reason) – as you can’t do anything with blown-out areas, there is literally no data there to work with.

Don’t forget, if you do this you’ll need to change it back afterwards!

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