Exposure used to be the single most difficult technical problem in photography, but digital cameras have made this thorny issue much easier. Does that mean you can now just turn on Program mode and turn off your brain? Sorry! Thought and care are still required. The basic problems of exposure have not changed. The only difference is that you can see right away whether you got it right.
This doesn't mean judging the exposure by the camera's little LCD screen; these are notoriously unreliable. It means using that invaluable tool, the histogram. There's a lot of confusing, conflicting, and inaccurate information out there about histograms, but reading them is simple. Click here to read the full article.
Back in the dark ages when I used film, I carried around several graduated neutral-density filters. They were both hard to pronounce and hard to use. First I had to decide which one to pull out - 1 stop, 2 stops, or 3 stops? Hard edge or soft? Then, after mounting one on the lens, I struggled to line it up properly. Seeing the transition between the gray and clear sections of the filter through the viewfinder could be almost impossible. By the time I finished the light had often disappeared. Yet I continued to use these filters because they were indispensable for darkening bright skies or keeping a sunlit mountain in balance with a shaded foreground.
With my first digital camera I realized that graduated filters were no longer necessary. I could recreate the same effect in Photoshop, with more ease and more control. Click here to learn how.
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