Digital camera sensors can have a dynamic range of eight or more stops nowadays. That is the range from overexposure to underexposure. (Dynamic range is defined as the ability of your sensor to retain detail in the shadow area as well as in the highlights). (John Enman photo)

Digital camera sensors can have a dynamic range of eight or more stops nowadays. That is the range from overexposure to underexposure. (Dynamic range is defined as the ability of your sensor to retain detail in the shadow area as well as in the highlights). (John Enman photo)

Making Pictures With Professional Photographer John Enman

Let’s talk some more about exposure

Last summer I bought another DSLR for myself.

Modern cameras are easy to use if one is content with the basics as the automated technology doesn’t demand a lot of study. Nevertheless, I purchased a manual written by well-known photographer and writer, Thom Hogan. For those like me that are more interested in photography than just point-and-shoot documentaries a long read of any of his books on cameras, beginning to end, is a delight.

I had already gone through the choppy handbook that came with the camera, but Hogan’s manual delved into more “how and why” than just how the camera works.

I spent an evening reading and going over my camera and decided to pause at the chapter on Metering. It began with, “Metering determines how the camera sets the exposure” and “the Options available are Matrix, Centre-weighted, Spot and Highlight weighted”. That was all familiar, and I poured a glass of wine and sat back to listen to some music as I pondered Mr. Hogan’s book.

There are lots of things to think about at day’s end, but it’s always fun when I can think about photography as I drift off to sleep. In the morning I had zoomed through a couple more pages and was in the mood to talk about what I had read when my friend Drew dropped by my shop. He had brought an old camera advertisement that a friend he met for coffee had given him. Drew has decided it would be fun to look for the original Canon 5D that has now been around for 15 years. That old 5D (once Canon’s flagship model) is now dated and will be an inexpensive purchase.

I had just spoken to a caller about a problem with a camera and Drew and I got talking about differences between that old 5D and a Mirrorless I had recently sold, and we were wondering how each camera would deal with the bright sun coming through my shop window.

Digital camera sensors can have a dynamic range of eight or more stops nowadays. That is the range from overexposure to underexposure. (Dynamic range is defined as the ability of your sensor to retain detail in the shadow area as well as in the highlights).

The Shutter allows light to reach the sensor for a longer or short duration, and opening or closing the Aperture lets in more or less light.

I tell beginning photographers to experiment by making test shots in different lighting using a neutral colored subject (like weathered wood on an old building) and check their histogram after each exposure to learn how a camera’s meter works.

Before I retired I spent my weekends photographing weddings. My main subjects were usually one wearing black and one wearing white.

If I aimed my meter at the black coat the white dress could be overexposed. If I used the white subject for my exposure the black may be underexposed. I wanted to see detail in both, and I would select an exposure about halfway between. A good rule-of-thumb that one might use is, “Black is about two stops under, and white is about two stops over”. That isn’t exact, but close enough most of the time.

Digital cameras usually record an amazing amount of detail in the shadows, but once there are overexposed highlights the detail is gone forever. I would rather under expose a bit than have overexposed areas. And unless I am photographing moving subjects I will choose the lowest ISO I can get away with to capture the greatest possible dynamic range. Remember, that is the capability of the camera to capture both detail in the shadow areas and the highlight areas.

Stay safe and be creative. These are my thoughts for this week.

Contact me at or

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

B.C. homeowners are being urged to take steps to prepare for the possibility of a flood, this includes protecting one’s home by moving equipment and other assets from these areas to higher ground. (J.R. Rardon)
‘Entire province faces risk’: B.C. citizens urged to prepare for above-normal spring flood season

High-streamflow advisory issued for the Cariboo Region and areas including Williams Lake, Quesnel and Prince George

Elvira D’Angelo, 92, waits to receive her COVID-19 vaccination shot at a clinic in Montreal, Sunday, March 7, 2021, as the COVID-19 pandemic continues in Canada and around the world. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes
110 new cases of COVID-19 in Interior Health

Provincial health officers announced 1,005 new cases throughout B.C.

TNRD to test emergency alert app

The Voyent Alert! emergency notification will be sent April 23.

Interior Health nurses administer Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccines to seniors and care aids in Kelowna on Tuesday, March 16. (Phil McLachlan/Kelowna Capital News)
69 new cases of COVID-19 in Interior Health

The total number of cases in the region is now at 9,840 since the pandemic began

Kelowna General Hospital (File photo)
Interior Health hospitals not strained by rising COVID case counts

While provincial hospitalizations rise, health care systems in the B.C. Interior remain robust, say officials

Vancouver resident Beryl Pye was witness to a “concerning,” spontaneous dance party that spread throughout social groups at Kitsilano Beach on April 16. (Screen grab/Beryl Pye)
VIDEO: Dance party erupts at Vancouver’s Kitsilano Beach to the dismay of onlookers

‘It was a complete disregard for current COVID-19 public health orders,’ says Vancouver resident Beryl Pye

Pall Bearers carrying the coffin of the Duke of Edinburgh, followed by the Prince of Wales, left and Princess Anne, right, into St George’s Chapel for his funeral, at Windsor Castle, in Windsor, England, Saturday April 17, 2021. (Danny Lawson/Pool via AP)
Trudeau announces $200K donation to Duke of Edinburgh award as Prince Philip laid to rest

A tribute to the late prince’s ‘remarkable life and his selfless service,’ the Prime Minister said Saturday

Vancouver-based Doubleview Gold Corp. is developing claims in an area north of Telegraph Creek that occupies an important place in Tahltan oral histories, said Chad Norman Day, president of the Tahltan Central Government. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO)
B.C. Indigenous nation opposes mineral exploration in culturally sensitive area

There’s “no way” the Tahltan would ever support a mine there, says Chad Norman Day, president of its central government

Stz’uminus Elder George Harris, Ladysmith Mayor Aaron Stone, and Stz’uminus Chief Roxanne Harris opened the ceremony. (Cole Schisler photo)
Symbolic red dresses rehung along B.C. highway after vandals tore them down

Leaders from Stz’uminus First Nation and the Town of Ladysmith hung new dresses on Sat. April 17

A Western toadlet crosses the centre line of Elk View Road in Chilliwack on Aug. 26, 2010. A tunnel underneath the road has since been installed to help them migrate cross the road. Saturday, April 24 is Save the Frogs Day. (Jenna Hauck/ Progress File)
Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of April 18 to 24

Save the Frogs Day, Love Your Thighs Day and Scream Day are all coming up this week

Local carpenter Tyler Bohn embarked on a quest to create the East Sooke Treehouse, after seeing people build similar structures on a Discovery Channel show. (East Sooke Treehouse Facebook photo)
PHOTOS: B.C. carpenter builds fort inspired by TV’s ‘Treehouse Masters’

The whimsical structure features a wooden walking path, a loft, kitchen – and is now listed on Airbnb

The Attorney General’s Ministry says certain disputes may now be resolved through either a tribunal or the court system, pending its appeal of a B.C. Supreme Court decision that reduced the tribunal’s jurisdiction. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)
Court of Appeal grants partial stay in ruling on B.C. auto injuries

B.C. trial lawyers challenged legislation brought in to cap minor injury awards and move smaller court disputes to the Civil Resolution Tribunal

An Extinction Rebellion Vancouver Island (XRVI) climate change event in 2019 saw a large crowd occupy the Johnson Street bridge. Black Press File Photo
‘In grief for our dying world’: B.C. climate activists embark on 4-day protest

Demonstrators will walk through Vancouver for the first two days before boarding a ferry Sunday morning

A vial of some of the first 500,000 AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine doses that Canada secured. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Carlos Osorio
Canada’s 2nd blood clot confirmed in Alberta after AstraZeneca vaccine

The male patient, who is in his 60s, is said to be recovering

Most Read