Quick Digital Imaging Tip 5/101: Expose for the Highlights

This is #5 of 101 digital imaging tips I plan to post here over the next few months. Stay tuned. Only 96 more tips to go :-)

Today's tip: Expose for the Highlights.

The annual Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta, held each year in early October in Albuquerque, New Mexico, is perhaps one of the most colorful festivals in the U.S.

Sure, the colors are great - and looking for color, and composing for color, is important. And fun!

Perhaps more important is exposing for the highlights - because it's easy to enhance colors in the digital darkroom using Saturation and Vibrance. However, if the highlights, such as the flame from the burner in the above photograph, are overexposed more than one f-stop, it will probably be impossible to rescue them.

To ensure that you preserve the highlights, check the overexposure warning on your camera's LCD monitor. Also check the histogram to make sure you don't have a spike on the right side of the display. Of course, shoot RAW files, which contain more data than JPEG files.

Explore the light,
Rick Sammon
Canon Explorer of Light