Perfect Exposure in Difficult Lighting Situations

One of the most frustrating things about learning photography is when you find yourself in situations where you just can’t get your exposure right. I found that there is a really simple trick for getting it right every time. Here is an example of how:

I came across a rocky outcrop while on the moors looking for landscapes to photograph. The is some interesting detail in the sky so I set up and take the first shot. It looks like this. The sky is blown out with no detail. Eeeuuugh.

Exposure 1

So I increase my shutter speed and take a second shot. Hope fully this will reduce the exposure in the sky, keeping the detail that made the shot interesting. Oops, That didn’t work either. A bit less blown out but still not very nice.

Exposure 2

So I increase the shutter speed again, reducing the exposure further. Success? Not quite. The sky looks better but now there is not detail in the shadows and a lot of the rocks are too dark. How frustrating.

Exposure 3

So what is the simple solution? HDR? Multiple exposure blending? Complicated filters? Nope! None of these, Its even simpler than that. Move your feet. The problem in the shot above is not my settings, just that sky is simply too bright in comparison to the rocks. If you change your composition you can change the brightness in the shot and make the exposure more even. Here I simply spun through 180o and caputred the shot in one easy exposure. The light from the sun at my back created lovely colours in the sky and deep shadows for contrast.

Mother Cap Rocks

So next time you are struggling to expose correctly, move your feet.

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4 Responses to “Perfect Exposure in Difficult Lighting Situations”


  1. 1 YYMK 26 July 2009 at 9:25 pm

    That’s a big if – “if your change your composition”. That’s actually the most important aspect of the photograph, and if you change it you get a totally different image. So the solution you propose doesn’t count, IMO.

  2. 2 his_baldness 16 August 2009 at 10:55 am

    Your “solution” is to take a completely different photo… better solutions HDR (very simple to do these days), Fill flash (the flash can be used to light the shadow areas allowing for the bright sky to be correctly exposed).

  3. 3 Tessy 16 February 2010 at 5:36 pm

    Your other entries were good. This one fails. :(


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Welcome to my blog

I am an amatuer photographer living in Sheffield, England. My blog will detail my photography journey, from fumbling beginer to, hopefully one day, competant and knowledgeable photographer

By sharing my experince hopefully I can help every one else with the same goals and maybe, just maybe impart some of the knowledge I have leaned

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