Of all our modern conveniences packed into our DSLRs, there is one major trap digital shooters must beware of when attempting to create a correct exposure. Relying on the camera’s LCD. That little picture screen will lead you astray faster than believing a politician’s promises. It should never to be trusted. This past week I talked to two different photographers that were wondering why their photos were improperly exposed when they downloaded them into their computer. However, when they handed me their cameras in hopes I would correct some programing error I immediately saw their problem.
The LCD is great for previewing and checking for closed eyes and composition, but it’s never completely trustworthy, and committing the following three transgressions are a sure way to give yourself an unpleasant surprise when you download your images for processing. LCD Brightness: If you leave it on auto, your camera will change the brightness based on ambient lighting and that can be confusing as you review images.
Set your LCD’s brightness manually for a more reliable way to judge the image. Some photographers change it for different events so they know exactly how their image is meant to look for different ambient light levels. However, for most of us, a static setting will be just fine. Whatever brightness you set your LCD to, it’s going to be better than auto.
The Histogram Even with the LCD set to manual brightness, many still only rely on that JPEG preview without paying attention to, in my opinion, one of the best features on digital cameras; The Histogram. The histogram gives a mathematical bar graph representation of the image’s tones. It is also a quick and easy indicator of an under or over exposed capture. And most importantly when the graph shows clipping on the far right or far left, that the photograph is losing detail. Reading the histogram may be a bit daunting at first, but it’s just a simple bar graph and with a little research and practice reading the histogram will become second nature. Highlight Alerts Highlight alerts are a flashing overlay that can be set up to alert when there are clipped highlights. This means that some areas of the photograph are to bright and have no detail recorded at all. The flashing areas on the LCD that many affectionately call, “blinkies” show us where the detail is missing. It is important to remember that what we are looking at is, in fact, a JPEG preview and hopefully you are shooting raw and won’t actually lose all that data when opening the image to post-process.
However, if a large portion of the image is flashing your camera is alerting you that much of the data may not be recoverable. If the subject is a bride and her white gown is flashing on the camera’s LCD, you’re in trouble and need to dial back your exposure or face a very angry bride when she sees her expensive gown is reduced to a wash of pure white.
Every camera should come with an instruction manual. And if the camera was purchased second hand it is very easy to find the instruction manual online. These are my thoughts for this week.
Contact me at www. enmanscamera.com or firstname.lastname@example.org. Stop by Enman’s Camera at 423 Tranquille Road in Kamloops. I sell an interesting selection of used photographic equipment. Don’t hesitate to call me at 250-371-3069.