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Exposure Challenge - Nail Your Exposure

Exposure Challenge – Nail Your Exposure

April 11, 2014
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When shooting a wedding, I like to walk around the room and get some detail shots of the decorations and cake at the beginning of the reception. At a wedding I shot recently at a marina, I wanted to capture the details of the reception by photographing the tower of cupcakes that substituted a traditional cake.

In this first photo, the cupcakes were tucked away in the corner, next to large windows that had great views of the marina. In this first attempt to capture the cupcakes, I exposed for the cupcakes first. When this was done, the background is completely overexposed and there is no way to discern that there are actually boats outside that window.
So, in order try and show the marina, I exposed for outside the window. This allowed for the sky and boats in the marina to be properly exposed. The obvious challenge then becomes that the interior portion of the shot where the cupcakes are has become completely under exposed. Now all we can see is the marina and lumpy shadows.
In order to get a completely properly exposed shot, I added an external flash to the top of my camera, and I pointed the flash directly into the white ceiling above me. As you can see from this final image, both the background and foreground are both properly exposed, thereby adding a lot more of the story to share with the bride and groom.
So what’s really going on here? First of all, I shoot completely in manual mode. There is no way a camera in AUTO mode would be able to understand that you are trying to balance exposure between two completely different environments such as indoor and outdoor. One of the best ways to become a creative photographer is to learn how to control your camera manually and how to view the world as your camera does. In this case, the hardest exposure to get right was what was outside the window, but I knew that I could add a flash to properly expose my subject inside the venue. These basic concepts are taught via Local Photogrpahy Classes, which you can find here, and these concepts are taught in the Photography 102 class.

I hope you found this simple demonstration useful! If you have any questions please feel free to comment below, and I will be happy to answer them. Thanks for reading and happy shooting!