Is Underexposing or Overexposing Better?


A reader sent me an email this week telling me that they were having a few issues with exposure levels in their shots. Their LCD screen was small which didn’t help with analysing shots and they were consistently getting back to their PC to find that they’d overexposed shots.

While it’s difficult to give advice without seeing pictures or know settings – my reflections were that if I had the choice between consistently over or underexposing images I’d probably prefer to underexpose them.

If you’re in a tricky situation and you suspect your exposure might be out I’d advise you bracket your shots (most cameras have a function that will do this for you, taking shots quickly in succession at slightly different exposures).

However if bracketing wasn’t an option I’d go for a slightly underexposed shot rather than an overexposed one.

The reason for this is that it is easier to adjust an under exposed shot in photo editing software than to adjust an over exposed one. Under exposed shots still record most (if not all) of the detail of your shot (even though you can’t always see them) and with a little tweaking in photoshop you can bring them out.

On the other hand overexposed shots tend to record less of the detail and you end up with less to work with in your post processing of images.

Of course – ultimately you’d rather get your exposure just right when you actually take the picture – but if you’ve got access to some photo editing software to do some tweaking later on the underexposure will in most cases be easier to fix.

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Darren Rowse is the editor and founder of Digital Photography School and SnapnDeals. He lives in Melbourne Australia and is also the editor of the ProBlogger Blog Tips. Follow him on Instagram, on Twitter at @digitalPS or on Google+.

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