There’s No Such Thing as a Correct Exposure

But, there is such a thing as an incorrect exposure. That’s basically when your exposure is not where you want it to be—it’s not fitting into your artistic vision. So, let’s work from there. A scene can be exposed in a number of ways, it just depends on what you’re going for. In this video, Pye from the SLR Lounge shows three different ways of shooting and exposing the same scene to achieve different artistic effects:

Shooting on a cliff with a beautiful ocean background, Pye photographs his model in exactly the same pose and spot using three different exposures. He uses a Nikon D5200 with a 35mm lens to get wider shots and he gets down low to the ground to make sure he’s just getting ocean and sky in the background.

1. Exposing for Silhouette

In this image, the sky and water background are at the correct technical exposure, but the model is underexposed. This provides a nice silhouette of the model and the balloons.

exposing for silhouette

2. Exposing For What Our Eyes See

There’s a balance between the exposure of the sky and the model here, which would technically make it the correct exposure as it maintains most of the details.

exposing for vision

3. Exposing for Bright and Airy

This is the shot Pye was going for. He wanted a bright, airy and whimsical look and he got that by ignoring technicalities and shooting at a brighter exposure.

exposing for vintage look

The last image, while overexposed, fits Pye’s artistic vision, making it the right exposure for this shot.

So, that’s it—don’t get caught up in rules and technicalities, be creative to capture the shot you want. In any one scene, there is more than one artistically correct exposure, it just depends on your vision.

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