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Chapter 2. Just Set the Camera to “P” fo... > Getting the Perfect Exposure: “Blink...

Getting the Perfect Exposure: “Blinky” Method

Okay, we all know that the best starting point for a good photograph is getting the correct exposure. But, how do we do that? Since I don’t carry an exposure meter with me, I’ve developed a simple method to nail the exposure every time: the “blinky” method. Now, some of my readers have said (emphatically) that this is a very unprofessional way to judge exposure. Frankly, I think it’s a perfect way to judge the exposure, because the scene’s brightest light value is a large area of diffuse white (a wedding gown, a white tuxedo shirt, etc.). Here is my method:

Step One.
Be sure that your camera is set to show what I call the “blinkies” on your LCD screen, as you see in Figure 1. I know your camera menu may use a term like “Highlight Alert,” but they’re still “blinkies” to me. Blinkies are an indication that you have blown out the exposure in a highlight area of the scene.

Figure 1.

Step Two.
Once you and the bride are in position, and your assistant has the light in the proper position, zoom in tightly on the bride’s veil or gown and take a shot.

Step Three.
Examine the LCD screen and see if you have to deal with any blinkies on any diffuse whites, like the bridal veil or gown (see Figure 2). If I’m photographing the groom, I use his white tuxedo shirt.

Figure 2.

Step Four.
If the veil or gown is “blinking” back at you, then it will be overexposed and you’ll need to make an adjustment to your exposure. Do one of these three things: have your assistant, holding the flash, back away slightly; increase your aperture; or reduce your ISO slightly. Take a second test shot and see if the blinkies have disappeared (Figure 3).

Figure 3.

Step Five.
Repeat this process until you have no blinkies in the diffuse highlights of the scene. It’s okay to have church lights and candles showing the blinkies. We just want to assure that the bridal veil (gown, tuxedo shirt, etc.), is not overexposed. We will talk about how to control the church overhead lights, candles, and other areas of reflections, later in the book.

Pretty darn easy, wasn’t it? This is about the easiest way to get near-perfect exposure on the scene. The secret lies in having a diffuse white in the scene when making your shot. Don’t have a bridal gown or veil? Any other diffuse white surface will do. I carry a small pop-up reflector with me in my gear bag, which I use in just those circumstances.


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