Compensating for Light and Dark Scenes


Photography 101


Lesson Info

Compensating for Light and Dark Scenes

In this video, I want to talk about what to do to compensate for scenes that are naturally bright or scenes that are naturally dark when we approach a scene that's naturally bright or naturally dark, the camera's going to give us kind of strange readings and here's what I mean if you're at the beach let's say you're shooting it's a bright day, you have bright sand, you have bright skies, we have a couple of stressed in lighter attire. Everything about the scene is very, very bright. Now, when the camera sees this, the camera's not really gonna understand and remember internally in the camera, basically, every scene on average is going to equal this grey or this eighteen percent gray color. What that simply means you don't need to memorize eighteen percent gray. It just means that on average, cameras are programed to think that well, if we average all the bright areas and we average are all the dark areas, we kind of come out with this middle grayish in our scene, if you're seeing is na...

turally brighter than that, the camera's going to tell you that the scene is over exposed? If the scene is naturally darker than that, it will tell you that it's underexposed and if you let the camera exposed for you well, again, back to our beach analogy if we let the camera run the exposure what we end up with is an underexposed scene because the camera's going to tell you that it's basically over exposed, you're going to compensate for it or if you allow the camera to compensate for it by itself is going to bring all that bright tone down. In reality, all we need to do is we need to expose for that and actually bright scene, so it looks bright in the cameras. Well, this may be one stop or two stops overexposed, so long as you're not blowing out all of your detail, you're totally fine. On the flip side, you can have a naturally dark scene and unnatural dark scene could really be anything it could be a scene like the one we're about to shoot or it could be just will say, for example, that you're shooting a groom or someone in her suit in a dark suit. If that's all you're getting in your composition, everything is naturally black with the exception of their skin tone. So what the camera goes is that compares it to that eighteen percent great value, and it says, well, this is too dark I'm going to try and brighten it up, so either you had just based on the cameras meter and you brighten it yourself or the camera again if you're allowing the camera to adjusting exposure for you it's going to brighten it up and then that black tone which should be black and it should be dark, ends up being more like a gray color and everything ends up being overexposed. So these the situations were based on your camera really isn't going to understand what's going on, and you need to outsmart the camera. We're losing light quick, so we need to set the shot. Now what I'm gonna go for in the composition is I'm going to get low. I'm going to shoot with the road line and you can see that there's a little highlight right on the center of the road once the sun moves out of position, we lose that. What I'm gonna do is place them right on that highlight we're gonna get low shoot with the leading line that goes into our couple and we'll get this entire scene in the frame. I'm also going to get low so that we can place the couple against the strong highlight in the background that way, the brightest areas of image is where the couple is going to draw attention right to that point. We're going to get started, guys, why don't you step on in okay, what I want guys yesterday. Turn into each other so fully close up there you go and then that's perfect just like that and then I'm gonna have you drop your toe a little bit christine on your front there us we get a little pull on a dress that looks beautiful all right guys, stay like that looking at each other okay, now, in a scene like this, we are shooting in a very dark scene. I mean, don't be surprised if this scene is going to one stop underexposed because or even two stops under exposed because I'm exposing for these highlights I want to just get the catch lights on the tree and so this is exactly what we're talking about, okay? Hold the phone by saying that the scene is rather dark but to us in the video it looks a little bit on the brighter side, doesn't it? So what is he talking about? Well, it's simple at this point you've learned about how you can expose for highlights versus shadows, right? So what you see on the video is that the camera is exposed for pie skin, which is actually in the shadows. So this scene looks pretty right because the video is exposing for shadows, but in reality the scene is actually pretty dark because most of the scene consists of shadows from the trees and the leaves were just spots of light coming through it now pie place the couple in a bright area of highlight and he's going to expose for that highlight area to get the proper exposure and with that exposure you'll see just how dark the scene actually is to the camera because most of the trees are going to be in the very deep shadows so the camera takes a scene like that and they said it's quite dark but the final results it's all going to depend on how you choose to expose it and scenes like this you need to know what you're looking for and I do want the trees I do want everything to be dark except for these highlight areas so kind of outsmart the meter in these types of situations because this is a dark scene we wanted to have that appearance except for these strong highlights coming through which we're going to draw our attention now I'm gonna go ahead and get low right about here let's go ahead and bring in way go okay okay guys put each other in tight okay? So we've got a gorgeous in here guys that backlight is absolutely amazing everything looks awesome our models look awesome so I'm gonna take this opportunity to get a few more shots on different lenses just a quick reminder be sure to watch that bonus chapter content because in that area you get to focus on how pie shoots and interacts with this subjects communication posing, interacting with your subjects, they're just as important, if not mohr, important than all of this technical mumbo jumbo peace out. So when you approach a scene, I watched you think to yourself, if the scene is bright and it's supposed to be bright, realize that before you take the shot, because the camera's going to give you a meter reading that basically shows that is overexposed, when, in reality, it's, just a bright scene, same thing. It was just a dark scene, if the meter is underexposed, but it is a dark side to begin with. Well, don't worry about that. In these kind of cases, we really want to just kind of outsmart the meter, understand that we're shooting either overly bright or overly dark scene and that's totally fine. That's it for this video, and I'll see you on the next one.

Class Description

Learn how to create, edit, and share stunning digital images.

To a photography beginner, the gleaming complexity of a new camera seems to demand an arsenal of expensive equipment and a long legacy of training. This is a common misconception – beautiful, professional-grade shots are within reach to any with a mastery of the basic mechanics of photography.

Join Pye Jirsa of SLR Lounge for a thorough, practical exploration of the fundamentals. Photography 101 teaches you how to use standard, inexpensive equipment to:

  • Explore the inner mechanical workings of your camera
  • Learn how to recognize good light and modify it to your needs
  • Make the elements of manual mode - aperture, shutter speed and ISO - work for you
Take advantage of the flexibility and control offered by your camera’s manual mode by shadowing Pye on 5 days of shooting at 8 different locations. You’ll learn how to capture both crisp action shots of moving subjects and classic portraiture with posed models. You’ll also gain a sense of what makes a great photograph, and how to mix professional staging with candid, humanizing moments.

You will walk away from Photography 101 with SLR Lounge's Pye Jirsa as a better photographer, and you’ll have the creative and practical skills to create, edit, and share stunning digital images; all with no more gear than you started with. 


1Introduction 2The Camera is Simply a Tool 3How Does a Camera Work? 4How to Adjust Shutter Speed, Aperture, ISO 5Exposure Triangle 6What is a Stop of Light 7Reading Exposure Via the Histogram 8Blown Highlights or Clipped Details 9White Balance & Color Temperature 10No Such Thing as the Correct Exposure 11How To Measure or Meter Light 128 Key Points to Understanding ISO and Image Quality 13Understanding the 3 Primary Metering Methods 14How to Get Perfect Exposures in One Shot 15Equivalent Exposure but Different Images 16Compensating for Light and Dark Scenes 17Starting with Automated Modes 18Auto Mode and Flash-Off Mode 19Portrait Mode on a Fashion Shoot 20Landscape Mode on the Beach 21Sports or Action Mode 22Macro Mode with Food Photography 23Creative Effects Mode - Floral Photography 24In-Camera Processing 25A Glimpse into RAW Processing 2615 Tips When You’re Having Trouble Focusing 273 Primary Types of Autofocus 28Single Shot with Portrait Session 29Single Shot with Action Shots 30AI Servo with Action Shots 31Focus Recomposing vs. AF Point Selection 32Shutter Speed and the Reciprocal Rule 33How to Hold a Camera and Panning Tutorial 34What Makes a Great Photograph? 35How to Capture Candid Moments 36How to Find the Right Light Direction 375 Basic Compositional Theories 38The Power of Cropping 39Color Schemes 40Diving into the Narrative 41If It’s Not Working With, It’s Probably Working Against 42More About Your Camera and Lenses 43Understanding Megapixels 44Crop vs. Full Frame Cameras 45Crop vs. Full Frame Cameras Demonstration 46Prime vs. Zoom Lens 47How the Lens Affects Composition 48Dynamic Range and RAW vs. JPEG 495 Tips on Memory Cards 5010 Tips on Buying Gear 51Conclusion 52The Good Karma Jar 53Posing and Action Shots with Female Model 54Posing and Lighting with Female Model 55Posing and Lighting Couples Portraits



I really enjoyed this class. I am not a beginner, but there were still things I learned here that I found helpful. I really enjoy learning from Pye. He is quick, gets to the point and doesn't spend a lot of time going over and over the same point. There is a wide variety of things that he covers, so really something for everyone. I would recommend purchasing this class if you want to understand your camera better, improve your technique and start taking better photos.

Joy Bobrink

I have tried to learn photography myself via the internet / YouTube but always felt like I was missing something in my foundation. Sure I can zero out my meter...but why? How do I know the settings I've selected are the correct ones? I've been circling this drain for a year until this course. WOW! Pye has SO MUCH information in every video. He doesn't just stand in a classroom and talk, he's out in the field actually putting his settings into his camera, talking about why and why not and then shooting. He's hands on the entire course. You don't just hear him, you see exactly what he's doing! I'm a visual / listening learner and this is my eureka moment! Thank you Pye! Watching the Exposure video and how you changed the settings yet maintained the exact same exposure was mind blowing. Awesome course! I would recommend this to anyone new to photography or anyone that feels like they don't have all the info.


Pi is an outstanding teacher with a wealth of practical knowledge.