Gerry van der Walt - Wild Eye - Wildlife Photography

A Quick Look At Exposure Compensation

Gerry van der Walt All Authors, Gerry 1 Comment

Do you understand exposure compensation when you are out in the field?

Do you know when to over and underexpose?

During the last few days I have spent a lot of time with guests on our Big Cats & Tuskers Photo Safari working on not only how to but when to use exposure compensation.

To cut it down to basics there are two reasons you would choose to use exposure compensation.

  1. There are extreme highlights or darks in the scene that you need to manage.
  2. You want to be creative with the narrative in your frame.

In the example below you will see that the camera would render the scene as quite bright which, apart from maybe burning out my highlights and loosing details in the white, will also leave a pretty flat looking image.

By underexposing in camera I was able to:

  • preserve the details in the white bird
  • start with an image that was a lot more moody and closer to the actual scene
  • do less work in Lightroom

Gerry van der Walt - Wild Eye - Wildlife Photography

I reckon that apart from a basic understanding of Depth of Field and how to use this in your photography and compositional narrative, getting to grips with exposure compensation – as well as when and why to use it – is one of the most important photographic techniques you can master.

You will know that I am all about the creative side of photography but it is vital that you understand the basic technical aspects of photography which you can then use to create your images.

Let me know if you have any questions but also take a few minutes to check out these posts which might add value to this topic.

Happy shooting!

Until next time.


About the Author

Gerry van der Walt

I am a private and specialist photographic safari guide, public speaker, co founder of Wild Eye and wildlife photographer. Visit my website at or follow my journey on Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram and Twitter a look forward to changing the way you see the world.  I also host a Wildlife Photography Podcast and I Vlog!



Comments 1

  1. Carol Bell

    Thanks Gerry…. I struggle with how much to underexpose……. and suppose it comes with lots of practise . Have not thought too much about the creative part of it except getting rim lighting and will play around more..

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