Useful Photography Tip #185: Why You Should Generally Underexpose Your Images

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One of the biggest and best tips I can possibly give any photographer about modern digital photography has to do with metering a scene. First off, if you’re using a form of evaluative metering then you should often use the light meter as a gauge and not try to always get the little blinker in the middle of the exposure indicator. You personally may want an image to be brighter, so learn how your camera handles more overexposed photos.

If you’re shooting for the edit though, you should underexpose your photos. Modern CMOS sensors (in general, those specifically made by Sony which are more or less in most cameras) have a tendency to handle the shadows a whole lot better than the highlights. That’s not to say that they can’t get details from the highlights, but if you have to gauge whether you can get more details from the highlights or the shadows, it would surely be the shadows. To that end, by underexposing your images in camera you can simply push the shadows in post.

If you overexpose, getting those details in the highlights aren’t always guaranteed without working in lots of layers. But if you’re perfectly okay with the image the way that it was exposed in camera, you can totally not worry about shooting for the edit.