Thursday, February 23, 2012

DSLR for Dummies- Exposure Compensation

I'm back with a DSLR post.  I am starting to take some photos on my own now.  It's pretty sweet.  I'm digging it.

Nate, however, is not.  The DSLR is his precious child and I'm pretty sure he cringes every time I touch it.   I had the camera approximately 10 feet from the table and he's like "Whoa, watch out for the lens."   10 feet.  Seriously.

I then asked Nate to solve this hypothetical situation for me.  If Ike, the DSLR, and I are tied down to train tracks and a train is rapidly approaching, in what order would he try to save us...

I'll keep you guessing on that one. 

Today I wanted to learn about something called exposure compensation.  Although I had no clue at the time that's what I wanted to learn about.

I tried to take a few photos of our office this past week-end (Fun posts next week. Get excited).  The photos kept turning out dark no matter what I did.  Nate informed me I needed to adjust the exposure compensation.  Who knew.

See that little button right there.

2012-02-19 18.48.47pn

It’s really hard to take a close up of the top of your camera with your camera.  I need a second DSLR for that.  You know, when my money tree in the backyard grows to maturity. In the mean time, you get a camera phone shot.  What did we ever do before camera phones?   Oh yeah, we learned how to use DSLRs.

That button controls exposure compensation.  Exposure compensation helps you when you are in either aperture or shutter priority (aperture refresher here).  The camera will try to expose for what it thinks the best exposure is. Sometimes you will want a different part of the picture brighter or darker.  This button (in aperture mode) will change the shutter speed in order to get a brighter or darker image while keeping the same aperture.

For the following photo the table is exposed properly.  The front side of the cow is darker than we would like...(The cow is an early birthday gift from a dear friend.  Isn't he perfect? Focus.)

No exposure compensation
I then dialed the exposure compensation to 0.7.  The front side of the cow is now brighter. Shutter speed longer.
Exposure compensation 0.7
Nate then had me dial to 1.7 to continue to see the change.  Shutter speed even longer.  Super bright.  I need shades.

Exposure compensation 1.7
I then dialed to -1.0.  Everything is darker.  Shutter speed was faster.


In summary, exposure compensation is an easy way to quickly change the brightness to get the correct exposure....because the camera isn't always going to get it right.  Bummer.

Any words of wisdom on exposure compensation?  What do you think is the solution to Nate's hypothetical train situation?   This is a test my darling readers.


  1. Your husband is too funny!!! Nothing better than a man and his toys!!! I find that for me, there is nothing better than learning from experience, I try my hardest with my DSLR, and if that doesn't help, I try my hardest at PSE!! I so need some classes on this. Thanks for the exposure explanation.

  2. In my house, the cat comes first. Followed by the two Alien laptops, the camera, the TV, the Xbox and then me. At least I feature on the list. Oh wait, I think Al's whiskey comes before me too!

  3. Cute cow! And hens in the kitchen are supposed to bring good luck! I think I'm going to take your tips and play around with my camera this weekend. :)

  4. Great post, going to test this out today in the bub's room. As far as who he would save first, maybe Ike could chew threw the ropes to grab the camera while Nate saves you. Otherwise I have no idea but hopefully it's you!

  5. Hahaha. 10 feet away. Why do men worry so about their women destroying said precious gadgets? So I've bent the fancy laser level, cracked the drill, and fried the sander? It could have happened to anyone. ;)

    1. If this was facebook, I would "like" this comment. :)

  6. I love these tips. I need to sit down with the camera and your blog and get to practicing. Nate and my husband would get along fabulously discussing how dangerous their wives are with their precious cameras.

  7. Thank you (and Nate) for such a simple explanation. I haven't known what that button does and sometime change the setting just for the halibut, but I had no idea what I was doing. I'm going to play around with it and am super happy that it helps with exposure since, as you know, my condo is so freaking dark.

  8. Yay for learning! I certainly hope Nate would save the camera first. Er, I mean you. :)

    ps--just was looking at your meals pinboard because I need an easy idea for dinner, and I think it's possible that you love pasta/bread as much as I do. :)

  9. I have had the what would you choose talk given to me but instead of the camera it was the Dyson!

  10. Andy gets all weird and overprotective about our lenses too! Just because I often drop them on hard surfaces, scratch them, smear them with fingerprints and lose them... Guys are ALWAYS overreacting about stuff like this!

  11. Are you suppling DSLR cameras for these posts? That would be mighty helpful. I have an old school SLR I mess around with from time to time. It was the father figure's and he never gets rid of anything so I asked to have it. Thanks for tutorial though. And, maybe you should begin training Ike to be a Lassie-type dog in the event of the train situation. Maybe he can learn to until ropes.....

  12. These posts on photography are super helpful and informative. One of my goals this year is to become a better photographer and mastering some of these basic skills will hopefully help me accomplish that. Guess I have lots of practicing to do this weekend. Thanks to you and Nate for all the info!

  13. I would really really love to know where that little cow and hen comes from! It's too adorable, and I want one!! Thanks!


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