Exposing Exposure

Picking up where Jordan left off in Balancing Things Out, I’d like to educate you on the mysteries and frustrations of exposure. Okay, so it’s really not that complicated. But it’s one of the main features of your camera that you’ll want to be familiar with.

The exposure menu will be in different locations on every camera, so you will have to check your manual for the specifics. Basically, though, it works like this: the higher the number, the lighter the image. The lower the number, the darker it gets.

I can’t remember ever having to adjust the exposure on any indoor shots, but outdoors usually requires a bit of setting. Sunlight has a way of striking actors so that it reduces them to glowing apparitions on screen. And while you may want to keep this in mind for certain special effects, it’s hardly practical for the majority of your filming.

Marelac glows
Obviously, the exposure needs to be lowered in this shot.

Marelac correct
Here is what you want it to look like.

Pretty basic, really. The only time it gets tough is when little patches of sunlight are filtering through the trees and landing on your actors here and there. In cases like that, it’s typically best to lower the exposure to prevent spots from getting “whited-out.” Of course, you don’t want to take it too far, but with a little practice and experience, you’ll soon have it all figured out.

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