Adjust for Extra-Bright Locations during Dog Photography Sessions - dummies

Adjust for Extra-Bright Locations during Dog Photography Sessions

By Kim Rodgers, Sarah Sypniewski

Photographing dogs in extra-bright locations, like the beach, presents a lighting challenge. In the case of the beach, so much light reflects off the water that it fools your camera’s light sensor into thinking you have more light than you really do, and your image comes out underexposed.

But what’s the remedy for a trickster? Trick him back. Use this technique when you photograph Cassidy at the beach or any bright location.

When your camera’s metering doesn’t seem accurate (or you’re simply not satisfied with how bright/dark your image is), you have to compensate your exposure accordingly. Your digital SLR camera is equipped with an exposure compensation dial, although exactly where it’s located varies from camera to camera, so be sure to check your camera manual.

You use this dial to brighten or darken your photos overall in situations where your camera’s metering isn’t giving the results you want (such as on a beach or a snowy day). Use the exposure compensation dial to change the suggested metered exposure setting plus or minus a certain a number of stops (usually in 1/3 stop increments).

This means if you’re working in aperture-priority mode, the camera first chooses an aperture based on your given shutter speed and the amount of light it thinks is available but then adds or subtracts to the shutter speed however many stops you have your exposure compensation set at.

For instance, if you’re photographing at 1/500 second at f/8 but the resulting image looks so dark that you change your exposure compensation to +1, then the next frame you take is actually shot at 1/250 second at f/8, and your image should look brighter.

Exposure compensation is not just for beachy days and hard-to-meter situations. Your photos may come out too dark or too light in other situations as well. For a quick and easy way to adjust your overall exposure, consider setting your exposure compensation accordingly: –1 or –2 if your scene is too bright or +1 or +2 if your scene is too dark.


82mm, 1/2000 sec., f/5.0, 320

Here, the photographer had to push her exposure compensation to +2/3.

Exposure compensation is one area where compact digital camera users aren’t left out in the cold. Just about every CDC on the market offers manual exposure compensation settings via menu options. Some manufacturers deem this setting so useful that there’s a separate button to quickly access it.