I was asked this question in the forums:
Having trouble getting clear crisp pictures in the park that are not over exposed with my Canon T3i. any info would help.
That’s a very good and complex question, love it. It’s tough to get the right exposure on a sunny day. Here are a few solutions.
1. Wait for a cloud. Heh I know this will sound like a cop-out, but clouds act like a giant diffuser and will help make for a better shot. So if there are a few clouds up there, try and wait for them to cover the sun. If its cloudless, read on.
2. Don’t trust your screen. Often when we shoot outside on a sunny day, the pictures seem to be okay on screen, but when we get back home and pull them up on a computer, they are very blown out. One solution is to carry a big black cloth and drape it over you and the camera to view the screen, and look somewhat dorky doing it. The other better solution is to check your histogram when viewing a pic to see how your exposure is.
You get to the histogram by pressing the info button a couple times when viewing a picture. The histogram in the above pic is a good exposure. If your histogram curve has blank space on the left, you’re overexposed. If you have blank space on the right, you’re underexposed. A little bit of underexposure can be a good thing, you can always pump brightness later. Overexposure is bad, you can’t dial back all those blown out whites, especially if you’re shooting in JPEG mode. Shoot in RAW and it collects more data so save you later if your exposure is bad. I always shoot in RAW + JPEG, so I have a big RAW image to edit, or if I don’t feel like editing and I want to throw an image up online, the JPEG file is smaller.
3. Change your metering to spot metering.
Check your manual on how to do this. What it does is tell your camera to meter the center of your viewfinder rather than meter the whole image. Point your camera at the center of your subject, half press and hold the shutter, reframe your picture and press all the way down. This can set better exposure on your subject versus the background, especially if the sun is above or behind your subject.
4. Play with Manual mode. New photographers dread coming off the Green Square or P, but sometimes the auto setting on the camera makes mistakes! Only by setting the aperture, speed, and ISO manually can you get the best pic sometimes. So play! You can’t hurt anything. And check the histogram afterwards. Never trust the screen on a sunny day!
5. Get a variable ND filter. I did an unboxing of a Hoya Variable ND Filter and am hoping to do a video next week showing it in action. A variable ND lets you dial down the exposure manually so you can achieve better depth of field on sunny-day pictures. Otherwise you have to close the aperture (higher f-stop) to keep your shot from blowing out, and higher f-stop means more in focus. They’re kind of pricey. I paid $200 for mine. But you can find them around $100 too. Remember to get the largest one, you can always buy step-up rings to use it on all your smaller diameter lenses. Here’s my review of a variable ND filter:
And fyi, the featured image of this article apparently came from Getty Images.