“Perfect” exposure is a relative matter, of course. Some people would cringe at the fact that I like to blow out my highlights more often than not, while others would praise my artistic eye in the same image. There is not one universal correct exposure for all situations, obviously, but when an exposure is waaaayyy off, sometimes it’s difficult or impossible to salvage in post, even if you’re shooting in RAW.
In the following short video clip, Matt Granger gives a simple tip on getting the “perfect” exposure every single time, in camera, which will save you lots of time in post (or allow you more freedom and a better canvas to play with). Some photographers rely on their histogram, which is a great way to see the tonal distribution of the image that you just took. Is it too light? Is it too dark? Did I blow out the highlights? Are there dark shadows under my subject’s eyes? A histogram can help you answer those questions. But there’s another way…
Though Matt does have a tutorial in how to understand your histogram, the method he shows us here is to change your camera setting to shoot in black and white or monochrome. (In the video, he demonstrates how to do so with a Nikon and a Canon camera). By shooting in monochrome, it will help you see the tonal variations in your image and help you recognize where the shadows are falling in camera. If you’re going to try out this tip, make sure you shoot in RAW. The raw data will be preserved within the file, but will display in black and white. If you shoot in JPEG and try this method, your image will be saved in black and white.
When I used to go practice shooting with Matthew Saville, he would always shoot in black and white and would constantly be examining each image, and murmuring some geek talk, which I tuned out. Now I see that he was utilizing thins very method! Personally, I can’t wait to experiment with this clever technique. It is a very visual method and much more fun than reading my histogram. If you want to see more tips from Matt Granger, make sure to check out his YouTube page.