Sunday 26 April 2009

Wedding photography - exposure technique

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Another question:

Hi David,

What's the best way to expose faces in bright sunshine when shooting towards the sun? It's really hard to judge on the LCD screen (shooting wide angle full length portrait for example). Would you suggest spot metering is the way to go? How do you manage blinking highlights and histogram information in this scenario?

Thank you


Hi Tim,

I'm not suggesting that what follows is the 'best' way, it's just 'my' way. It doesn't matter how you expose your shots as long as it's accurate, reliable and efficient.

I have to say I never spot meter at weddings - too time consuming and easy to get wrong in a high pressure situation. I prefer exposure compensation and do it on 'instinct'. I certainly wouldn't claim that all of my shots are perfectly exposed but I haven't lost a shot due to an exposure error for over a year.

I quickly judge if the scene is lighter or darker than middle grey, or is backlit as in the scenario you mention, and then compensate accordingly. This happens in an instance - I'm unconciously competent at this now. But occasionally I might underexpose if I want to guard highlight details or overexpose if I want more detail in the shadow regions.

I don't have a formula that I follow - it's on a shot-by-shot basis. I may have a quick glance at the LCD screen after an occasional shot (the 5D Mk II produces high resolution thumbnails which are pretty accurate) but I rarely check the histogram. Again, due to time considerations.

This is probably not much use to you but it is honest!

All the best,


My main website: Kent wedding photographer

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