Making Sure Whites Are Bright

Modern digital cameras are usually very good at making exposures that we find pleasing. Their metering systems have become quite sophisticated and very few subjects can fool them. However, one challenge remains: photographs of scenes that are mostly white.

ISO 200, 3 seconds, f/22, 88mm
Exposure adjusted +1.5 stops

The camera measures the light coming in the lens and recommends a shutter speed and aperture that will produce an average amount of light for the sensor to record the scene. This works most of the time. But when you frame a subject that's bright white, the camera interprets this as too much light and makes a picture that's darker than your subject.

ISO 200, 1 second, f/22, 88mm
Camera's unadjusted exposure

You can help the camera by using the Exposure Compensation control to add back the light the camera wants to take away. Then your white subject appears bright and white in the image.

Learn more about when to use the Exposure Compensation feature in Getting to Know Your Digital SLR Camera, September 29, 2018, in Missoula, Montana. Click here to register.