Photography Cheat Sheet: Exposure Guide for Tricky Lighting Conditions

Let this photography cheat sheet help you get the exposure right even in the most challenging lighting situations.

Once in a while, you’ll come across shooting situations that give you inaccurate colors, blown-out highlights, and unbalanced exposures. You can correct these in post-process later, but it always pays to get the best results possible in-camera. With the tips in today’s photography cheat sheet, you’ll be ready to make the necessary adjustments when shooting in some of the most tricky lighting conditions.

The detailed cheat sheet by Digital Camera World features four flowcharts that will help address some common exposure problems. For example, you may find that your camera overexposes the scene and produces either blown-out highlights or inaccurate colors for dark subjects. Part of the problem-solving involves checking the histogram, so if you’re not yet familiar with that, we suggest also checking out this photography cheat sheet on how to read the histogram.

In three of the four situations addressed by the flowchart, we see suggestions on how to achieve correct exposure by setting the appropriate shooting modes, metering modes, and adjusting the exposure compensation. The histogram helps us determine the necessary exposure compensation setting to choose. It provides the most accurate reading of the scene compared to simply checking the shot from your camera’s screen. If your camera has a Highlight Alert feature, it will also help you take note of areas that are at risk to becoming overexposed.

Lastly, if you want to do landscape photography, high contrast scenes will most likely be the norm for you. This typically comes as the sky being much brighter than the land, so you’ll have to do a handful of things to restore balance to your shot. Again, consult your camera’s highlight warning to check if the exposure exceeds the dynamic range of your camera. It’s best if you shoot RAW so you can recover as much of the highlights as possible. Graduated Neutral Density filters are also your best friends here, so make sure you never leave home without them!