Photo by Scott Bourne – Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs Creative Commons

Photographers generally come in two flavors: Artists and Scientists – rarely the two meet to form someone like my pal Trey Ratcliff. But most of us fall on one side or the other. I tend to fall to the art side although I am loathe to call myself an artist. I haven’t earned that title yet. I do aspire to it.

One thing I note amongst the scientific-biased photographer is their obsession with things like “perfect” exposure. Trust me when I tell you there is no such animal. There is the perfect exposure for the shot YOU want to make. But no single perfect exposure.

Take the shot above. It’s a photo I made of my Corvette when it got its supercharger. The exposure is about 1.5 stops darker than the camera meter suggested. And the camera was right – in that – if I wanted a traditionally “correct” exposure, I should have had more light. I should have opened up a stop and a half. There’s only one problem. I didn’t want THAT photo. I wanted the one I ended up with. So I purposely underexposed.

On most modern cameras there is a thing called an exposure compensation dial. I suggest you become familiar with it because knowing how to use it gives you massive creative control over your photos.

I wanted a dark, ominous look to the image because the Corvette with supercharger is a menacing beast. So I under-exposed. The scientists all beat me up. That’s okay. They can take their picture and I’ll take mine.

Think about getting the exposure the way YOU want it – not the way the camera wants it. That’s the difference between taking a picture and making a picture.

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  1. [...] * When perfect exposure isn’t necessarily the right exposure. [...]

  2. [...] recently read a very interesting article on Photofocus about how the perfect exposure isn’t always the right exposure which led to the statement [...]

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