Skip to main content

Mastering Your Digital Camera

Lesson 25 of 51

The Bucket Test

Chris Weston

Mastering Your Digital Camera

Chris Weston

Starting under


Get access to this class +2000 more taught by the world's top experts

  • 24/7 access via desktop, mobile, or TV
  • New classes added every month
  • Download lessons for offline viewing
  • Exclusive content for subscribers

Lesson Info

25. The Bucket Test
Confused by metering and exposure compensation? In this lesson, Chris shares an easy, visual way to remember camera metering.


Lesson Info

The Bucket Test

visualize what a camera light meter is doing and how you can get around it. I'm going to use five buckets on my right is a black bucket, and on my left, I have a white bucket in between, like gray, medium gray and dark. Right now, I want you to imagine that each bucket is one stop lighter or darker than the bucket next to it. So, like gray is one stop light of the medium grey on one stop darker than white. Now, for this trick, I'm going to get a white rabbit. Probably not a real white rabbit, because, well, I'm a wildlife photographer and there are ethics involved because the rabbit is white, toe it correctly expose it. You would praise it in the white bucket, but the camera doesn't see. It is white, the camera thinks is mid grey and so puts it into the mid grade bucket instead. Ondas, if by magic turns, are white rabbit gray. Now, to make the rabbit white again, you have to reverse the magic to get from white to mid grey, the camera has under exposed by two stops 12 so you have to do ...

the opposite you set plus two exposure compensation plus one plus two and hey, presto. In our white bucket, we find a white rabbit. Now a similar thing happens with a black rabbit. To correctly expose a black rabbit, you would place it in the black bucket, but again, the camera doesn't see black as black. It sees it doesn't medium grey, and so it puts it into the medium grey bucket on wall are. Once again we get a medium gray rabbit. Turn the rabbit back to black. Once again, you have to reverse the magic they get from black to mid grey, the camera has over exposed by two stops 12 So again, you have to do the opposite. This time you set minus two exposure compensation miners one minus two. And in our black bucket, we find a black rabbit by thinking in these terms, using exposure compensation to tell the camera which bucket the subject should be in is easy to get a technically accurate exposure in any lighting on whatever the subject,

Class Description


  • Set up your camera with confidence
  • Better understand shutter speed, aperture, and ISO
  • Capture perfect exposures in camera
  • Get sharp, focused images quickly
  • Understand white balance and the difference between RAW and JPEG
  • Quickly and confidently capture images “in the moment”
  • Become a better photographer by building an understanding of basic photography techniques


CreativeLive is partnering with Chris Weston to offer you his Complete Photography Master Course.

Turn terms like aperture, shutter speed and ISO from a bunch of obscure photography jargon to a toolset that you can easily manipulate to capture great photos. Led by landscape photographer Chris Weston, this class covers everything beginners need to know to master photography basics from exposure to focus.

Turn that camera dial off of auto and learn how to properly expose a photograph. With a few basic camera settings, get the most image quality and the best colors from your mirrorless or DSLR camera. Then, master focus modes and techniques for sharp photographs.

Learn the basics of photography in a series of short, memorable lessons. Chris' straight-forward teaching style is great for newbies that find the task of learning photography daunting, while the to-the-point lessons make it possible to spend just a few minutes a day mastering your camera with easy photography tips and techniques.


  • Beginner photographers
  • First time DSLR or mirrorless camera users
  • Any photographer that wants to get off automatic mode to shoot better photos


Named one of the world's most influential wildlife photographers, Chris Weston takes a contemporary approach to photography. After launching his career in 2001, the Fujifilm ambassador's images have graced the pages of top publications like BBC, The Times, Outdoor Photography, Practical Photography, and Digital Photography. As a photography educator, Chris has written over 20 photography books, along with leading photo tours and online workshops.


mark jacobson

What a marvelous course! What a marvelous teacher! When I went to college, my father would always ask me about my professors, more than the courses themselves. He was passionate about learning and although too busy with earning an income to go beyond an undergrad degree, continued to read 50 books a year. I still remember how he'd get almost visibly excited when I'd tell him about some special professor who taught with such enthusiasm and, more than just passion, evident delight and joy in the subject. 'Ah they're the best, son. How wonderful you have such a teacher." Well, he passed away decades ago but if he were still around I'd get a kick out of telling him about Chris Weston, the 'Prof' of this course. He's one of the very special ones: a teacher who's loved and lived his vocation--his avocation--since he was a boy--and still is as excited about it now as he was then. The result: a course that seems to be more a labor of love--of pouring far more energy and thought into the details then one typically finds in these courses--than anything else. Bravo Chris! I'm already on to your next one.


Chris is an amazing instructor who dissects theory giving amazing analogies that bring concepts to life. I have rarely been able to sit through most video course for more than a half-hour but watched this one from beginning to end. A good refresher course if you've been away from the camera for awhile or there are some concepts that still illude you. I highly recommend this course and look forward to watching his others. Thank you for the clarity and great explanations.

Sky Bergman

This was an amazing class. I have looked at a number of basic photography classes. This one was by far the best I have seen. Chris is an exceptional teacher. He breaks things down into digestible information and then inspires you to be creative. Thank you!