4 tools to help compose the perfect exposure

Choosing the correct exposure can sometimes be difficult, especially in bright light. I’ve gotten pretty good at reading my LCD and using zebra stripes to find correct exposure on the fly, but there are a few other options. Two of them I hadn’t even heard of before.

This excellent video from The Storytelling Academy goes over the four main tools you can use behind closed doors to choose the perfect exposure.

1. Histogram

It is the go-to tool for most photographers and videographers. This will give you a graph with shadows on the left and highlights on the right. You will easily be able to see when you can cut data at each end.

2. Zebra stripes

This is my personal method for finding the correct exposure. I like being able to see my scene, and I can easily see what’s blowing. In many cases, objects like the sky will be blown out in places, and that’s okay. I make sure that my subject has no hot spots, for example on his forehead.

3. Waveform

The waveform works like a histogram with even more data. Not only does it tell you what part of the image is over or underexposed, it will also show you the exposure for different areas of your scene.

4. RGB Parade

The RGB parade is a waveform split into red blue and green channels. This lets you see if individual color channels are blown out, as well as the entire scene.

Personally, I haven’t used the waveform or RGB parade, and to be honest, I’m not sure our Nikon D750 cameras even have that option. That being said, I will definitely start using them as we get into color correcting our footage in Premiere.

About Debra D. Johnson

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