Shooting Against a Bright Background Fools Your Camera’s Meter: One Easy Answer Is A Quick Exposure Compensation Adjustment

exposure comp_snow3
On my recent business trip to Switzerland this month, we had the opportunity to sightsee for two days. Our tour took us to an amazing view of the Swiss Alps. A short train trip on the Matterhorn Cog Railway from the mountain town of Zermatt brought us to the Gornergrat where we were met with a panoramic view at 3131 meters above sea level. This astounding view of 29 peaks, each over 4000 meters and including the Matterhorn at 4478 meters, offered up the chance for our small group of 25 to take thousands of photos. We each took turns taking photos of each other and quickly discovered we needed to adjust our camera settings to compensate for the extremely bright background. In this case, the meter saw that much of the frame was filled with white, so the camera “stopped down” the aperture to let in less light (sort of like squinting in bright light). However, this made the subject’s face quite dark. To compensate, I moved the exposure compensation setting to +1.0. I then pointed the camera at my colleague, held the shutter release button down halfway to lock in the focus, and shifted the camera so that I could capture Yuki in front of the Klein Matterhorn. This tip is useful when shooting against any bright background such as snow, sand, water and bright windows, all which lead to backlit situations. So keep this in mind as you travel this summer or spend a day at the beach or boating.

10 thoughts on “Shooting Against a Bright Background Fools Your Camera’s Meter: One Easy Answer Is A Quick Exposure Compensation Adjustment

  1. We live in Switzerland and I face this challenge almost every single day! Great tips – thank you.

  2. Thank you for the great tips. I also have the same problem when I shoot some scenery. I always try to shoot pictures against the light but thanks to your adjustment tips I can shoot anywhere and get great pictures.

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