The Perfect Sunrise

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With most cameras (Point-n-Shoots and DSLRs) I have always seen exposure settings for exposure. My question is this, should I mess with exposure in the camera while taking the shot or use software like Photoshop or Camera Raw to increase or decrease exposure?

What are the advantages/disadvantages of doing in in the camera vs software and vice versa?

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Yes i agree, ideally in camera for everything, but PS can certainly help out in a pinch. –  Susan Dec 5 '11 at 9:16
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3 Answers

up vote 7 down vote accepted

No amount of Photoshop will fix a bad picture. So the trick is to get the best picture possible in the first place. But most of the ways to get a good picture require a lot of work, a lot of practice, or a lot of expensive equipment. Which is why, in general people, tend to think that fixing stuff in Photoshop is such a good idea.

Specifically, do the old film photographers trick of taking several photos at higher and lower exposure stops on either aperture or shutter speed. Two stops either way is a passable rule of thumb. Some higher end cameras can do this for you automatically taking three differently exposed shots with one press of the release.

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Each pixel of the image have a range for how dark/bright it can be before it is absolutely white or absolutely black. When you take your shot with the camera some parts of the image might be overexposed (absolute white) or underexposed (absolute black).

The camera tries to make sure that your subject does not become over or underexposed. This is done with the cameras light metering. The camera meters how bright or dark the subject is and then decides how bright or dark the image should be captured. Sometimes the metering is wrong or, does not apply to your particular motive, when that is the case you can avoid a badly exposed image either by changing your metering settings, you should be able to tell the camera to meter the entire image or at the focus point, or at the focus point and somewhat around it ;). You can also use the exposure setting to tell the camera to adjust the image a few steps darker or brighter.

Later on when your in your computer the image hopefully have a correct exposure, if not you can adjust the image to become brighter or darker, however your overexposed (complete white) or underexposed (complete black) areas can not be "fixed" and will look abit patchy. There is however nothing wrong with these areas as long as they don't contain any details that is lost due to their bad exposure.

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The photo on your camera should be the one that is GOOD.. So don't depend on any software to change your photo into the desired result.

So if you want different settings, you better take multiple pictures and make sure you make 1 "auto" picture and you can always use that to edit in photoshop.. But never take a picture with the intention of editing it..

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