How to Compensate Light in Photography


Playing around with the camera settings can provide you with uniquely beautiful photos. Learning how to compensate light as you take photos comes in handy if you wish to have quality photos. In photography, light does play a huge role in how the photos you take will turn out. Failure to compensate light may lead to a lighter image than you wish for or a darker one.

As you attempt to take a photograph of the subject with a dark background, you need to play around with the light or light settings if you wish to have a beautiful photo. The background in which your subject is does play a huge role in how the photo will turn out. For example in case your subject is in a small area that has a very bright background then the exposure system will automatically adjust itself to taking an over-exposed photo with an under-exposed subject. A subject occupying a small area with a dark background on the other hand will result in the camera assuming that the entire scene is under-exposed thanks to the background with the end result being an over-exposed subject. In short, the size of the background area does have a huge impact of how the subject will be exposed in the photo.

Let’s have a look at how you can have beautiful photos with good light.

Get a balanced exposure with the surface area

In case you use auto-exposure then you can have a balanced exposure by reducing the surface area of the background. What this means is that you will have to tighten up your image so that it can cover the limited space as much as possible. In return, the exposure system will adjust in accordance to the subject.

On the other hand in case you need to include the background in the photos then you have to play around with the light so that it is adequately compensated on the subject for a beautiful shot.  In case you need to lighten up your subject then you will need to increase the exposure compensation by 1 stop. You will need to utilize +1 in order to increase the aperture or lower the shutter speed. For a darker subject you will need to decrease the exposure compensation by one stop. You will need to utilize -1 in order to reduce the aperture or increase the shutter speed.

Whatever effect you are going for will determine the kind of exposure compensation you should go for.


  • For close-up photos, you can make use of a reflector to help bounce back the light from the background in the event that the background is on the bright side.
  • In case you are taking photos of subjects that are near then it is a good idea to make use of the flash option. This is because flash does help counter the light that comes from the background.
  • In case even after using the settings above you still fail to get the right exposure, check if your camera does support the RAW format. In case it does then you can make use of it , take your photos and then manipulate them later as you edit them


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James Jacobs