If you’re having trouble getting the right exposure, here are some basic tips that might help you solve your problems.
a. Use matrix or evaluative metering. Your camera’s manual will tell you how to set this preference. It takes into account a wider area of scene information and attempts to balance the exposure to better compensate for contrasty light.
b. Assuming you’re shooting with digital cameras, and most of you are, expose for the highlights. That means, don’t overexpose. Once you lose information in the highlights it’s gone forever.
c. Use your histogram, Looking at your camera’s histogram you can determine whether or not you’ve exceeded your camera’s dynamic range. If there is a great deal of information that has pushed past the extreme right or extreme left of the histogram you should adjust your exposure.
d. Expose to the right. This means get as much information in your histogram window as you can without going past the point of no return. Remember that the histogram is broken up into sections. Each section to the right contains twice as much information as the section before it.
e. Pay strict attention when it’s contrasty light. When there are large differences between the brightest bright spot and the darkest dark spot in a scene, you need to be very careful that you don’t exceed your camera’s dynamic range. Adjust your exposure carefully.
f. If you don’t have a meter remember the Sunny 16 rule. The correct exposure for an average scene taken on a typical sunny day at f/16 is one over the ISO. So if you’re using ISO 200, to apply sunny 16, shoot at 1/200th of second at f/16.