BetterPhoto Q&A
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Photography Question 
linda Terranova

How to Get the Best Exposure

My images look great on my camera. Then when I load them to the computer, they look so much different - too dark, too light, etc. What is the best way to get accurate exposure?

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2/22/2009 7:24:10 PM

Carlton Ward
BetterPhoto Member Since: 12/13/2005
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  Hello Linda,
I don't know how much experience you have shooting with a DSLR but I will tell you that the single most important thing about photography is getting proper exposure which is why BetterPhoto offers several classes on the subject.
You can't trust the LCD camera display to show how sharp or properly exposed the image is. If you use the histogram, you will get better information than just looking at the LCD display. But you also need to know what the histogram is telling you to understand how to adjust your exposure.
You can also set up the LCD to show blown highlights and also set the brightness etc.. for the LCD. This may also be part of your current problem. Do you have your camera set for Adobe RGB?
If you shoot Raw, you get quite a bit of flexibility with Photoshop ACR to adjust for over/under-exposed images.
There are many variables between the adjustments on the camera and learning to meter your shot for good exposure. There are lots of tips and tricks for shooting landscapes, exposing for snow, the sunny 16 rule, rule of thirds, artistic Depth of Field, action shots, portraits, using available lighting - too much to mention here.
If you are a beginner, I suggest learning your camera and reading and taking classes for Exposure. Then I would move to composition and Photoshop (or other editing software programs), since editing is so vital to digital photography and then start narrowing your studies to specific areas pertaining to what kind of photography you want to shoot.
This may seem like a lot, and there is a big learning curve to get a grasp on everything that is needed to know to get better photographs, but it is a fun learning curve and after taking some classes, reading, studying and practicing, your images will start looking better and better very quickly.
I hope this helps and please ask if you have more questions or would like some suggestions.
Hope this helps,

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2/22/2009 9:48:42 PM

Dennis Flanagan
BetterPhoto Member Since: 12/31/2005
  You should consider a good hand-held light meter and learn to shoot in manual.

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2/23/2009 12:45:04 AM

Ellen L. Zaslaw
BetterPhoto Member Since: 10/30/2003
  You just have to shoot a lot and practice your photo editing skills. All DSLRs have bracketing capabilities and that eliminates the need for a light meter. You can set up your camera to show under and over exposure and that's all you need to know.

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2/24/2009 3:16:07 AM

Charlotte A. Wilson   Dear Linda, all the above advice is very good, but if I could add....Jim Miotke, one of the instructors here at Better Photo has a great book out called "The Better Photo Guide to Digital Photography"....I ordered it recently from and it's great. Has some real good Step-by-step Lessons. I know I sound like a commercial, but it really is worth buying. The good thing about a book you can pick it up and spend what time you can and always go back for reference when you forget it ;-)....char

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2/24/2009 6:53:07 AM

Ellen L. Zaslaw
BetterPhoto Member Since: 10/30/2003
  The most helpful and informative book I've ever read, in 40 years of serious shooting, is Bryan Peterson's "Understanding Exposure." It is updated now for digital. No photographer should be without it. I would suggest a look at this book.

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2/24/2009 7:11:29 AM

John V. Carey   I have adobe lightroom, They have a great feature. In the develope mode, Camera Calibration, If you have downloaded the camera profiles, you can select the profile for your camera and a lot of times it will match you LCD.

Also remember as with film, taking the shot is only the beginning, there is such a thing as a digital darkroom. You can do all the things there that you did in a darkroom.

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2/25/2009 11:36:37 PM

John G. Clifford Jr
BetterPhoto Member Since: 8/18/2005
  If images look great on your camera's LCD but not so great on your computer's display, perhaps you need to calibrate your computer's display. This makes a huge difference.

Google "calibrate spyder" for more information.

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3/3/2009 9:56:22 PM

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