Bob Blakley recently
to avoid automatic exposures. The debate further continued with
Phillip Hallam-Baker's reaction
and Bob's reply.
Bob is indeed right that the "pure"
automatic exposure does in fact homogenize your photographs.
But he may be wrong with the method how to avoid that.
Well, there are essetially two approaches to "creative" exposure:
Switch to "manual" as Bob described. But for that you need another way how
to meter the lighting conditions. Maybe your expert judgment, maybe handheld
exposure metering device. The former needs tons of experience and is not
reliable even if that is given. The latter is expensive, cumbersome and
unreliable for beginners.
Switch to "automatic" and use exposure compensation of some form.
The camera meters
the "normal point" for you. You just have to decide how much darker or
lighter you want the scene to be and compensate for that. You need not have
decades of experience nor separate device.
And it does not really matters if the "automatic mode" is aperture priority,
shutter priority or some program mode. It does not really matter if the
metering is spot, center-weighted or multi-zone, as long as you can predict
The photograph is not produced by camera. The photograph is produced by
photographer. And it really does not matter that much what camera you use. What
really matters is how much you know your device. How you can predict
it's behaviour and results. Therefore, both of the approaches will work, and
I could say that both will work equally well.
Know your equipment. That's one of the basic photography mantras.
Want a proof? Look at my
photographs. Most of them were taken using some sort of (tweaked)
auto-exposure. And you really cannot say that the exposure is "homogenous".
The real problem with auto-exposure is that most photographers do not think
about it. They do not "tweak" it. Do not use exposure compensation, they do
not choose a segment of image for measuring the exposure, they just take the
picture as it is. That's the real problem. Not the feature of the camera,
but the mind of the photographer.