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How Two Simple Camera Functions Can Save Your Photos

📄 Contents

  1. Undiscovered Options: Exposure Compensation and White Balance
  2. Exposure Compensation
  3. White Balance
  4. Make It Happen!
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Most of us take fairly lousy photos most of the time, and we aren't sure what our options are when the pictures don't turn out the way we hoped. But as professional photographer Khara Plicanic, author of Your Camera Loves You: Learn to Love It Back demonstrates, you don't have to be a professional (or have a professional camera) to take advantage of some cool functions your camera already has.
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When you take a photo and you don't like what you see on your LCD screen, what are your options? If your photo is overexposed (too bright), underexposed (too dark), or the color looks wacky, what can you do? How can you fix it?

These questions can sometimes seem puzzling, especially to those who are somewhat new to the study of photography and still learning their way around the camera. Usually, they elicit one of the following two responses:

  • Fix it? What?! You mean I don't have to settle for bad photos? I never knew I had any options!
  • Photoshop it. Duh!

If either of those answers sounds familiar, this post could be a life-changer for you—hold on to your hats, folks!

Undiscovered Options: Exposure Compensation and White Balance

When your photos don't turn out quite as well as you hoped they would, I'm happy to tell you that you do have options. Quite a few, actually, and we'll explore two of them right here and now.

Despite the fact that Photoshop is incredibly fun to use and extremely powerful, it's best used as a creative tool—not as a fix for poorly exposed images that could've been shot correctly in the first place. Let's save Photoshop for fun stuff like swapping heads and bodies (à la The National Enquirer), getting rid of ex-boyfriends, and making ourselves appear as though we actually weigh what it says on our driver's licenses. We don't have time to waste on correcting bad exposures!

Your best option for dealing with a photo that's less than what you were hoping? Make some adjustments to your camera settings and reshoot. With a little know-how, you can get it right in-camera, avoiding any need for corrections later.

Depending on your experience and photographic prowess, there's a long list of ways you could go about correcting images that are too bright, too dark, or have wacky color, although few options are as simple and easily accessible as exposure compensation and white balance. Built into almost every digital camera, from a compact point-and-shoot all the way to a professional-level dSLR, these two simple functions can quickly and easily make a dramatic difference in the photos you capture—and you don't have to be a professional photo wiz to use them!

If you usually shoot in "auto" mode, you may never have bumped into the exposure compensation and white balance settings, as they're often inaccessible while shooting in "auto" mode. So, by all means, allow me to introduce you!

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