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#4: Learn Exposure Compensation

If you take a shot and you look at it on the back of your camera and it just looks awful (it’s way too dark, way too bright, your subject is in shadows, etc.), do you know exactly which controls on your camera will fix it? If not, the next most important thing for you to learn is exposure compensation. I talk about it back on page 135, but a lot of people will skip over that page because the phrase “exposure compensation” doesn’t mean anything to them at that point. I wish it had a better name, because I think it’s probably one of the most important camera techniques to learn when you’re starting out. It helps you overcome two big problems: (1) your camera’s built-in light meter is really good, but sometimes it’s wrong and you know it’s wrong, but you’re not sure how to fix it; and (2) it helps you retain the detail in your photos, primarily in the brightest parts of your image. If you and I were out shooting and you asked me what one thing you needed to understand about your camera itself to really take better shots, learning exposure compensation would be it. Learning this is what will turn more of your messed up shots into prints you’ll want to hang on your wall. Turn to page 135 right now and learn when to use it. You can always come back to this chapter later (yes, it’s that important).

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