Shooting White...exposure issues and more
As many photographers can tell you, it can be very difficult to get great shots, when much of your frame is filled with white or near white. Modern exposure meters in our DSLR cameras are programed to balance our exposures in a manner that tends to underexpose images like the one above. The camera's meter sees the image and immediately decides the image is too bright, and then underexposes it in a way that it thinks is going to give us a better image. However, what we end up with is an image that is often at least two full stops under what is needed to record the image as we see it in the moment of capture.
The solution is a simple one......we need to set our exposure compensation dial for +2 stops, and we end up with the correct exposure for the scene. No great brain drain here, but something we need to remember. Of course, shooting in RAW can make this correction a simple task. If you're shooting in jpeg format, however, you'll need to keep this in mind at all times.
With the image above, the reverse is true. The meter reads the majority of the frame as being dark and tries to lighten the image by opening the exposure by one or two stops. The result is that the whites get over exposed, or sometimes referred to as "blown out." By setting the exposure compensation dial to minus one or two stops, this type of image is once again properly exposed.
Final Thoughts: Too many photographers are just plain sloppy with their exposures. The digital age of photography has made it far to easy to "correct things after the exposure is taken." I believe that is a huge mistake. There is just no replacement to hitting the exposure on the head with the original image. Your photos will be so much richer in so many ways if you take the time to do it right the first time. If you really want quality images, then you need to put forth the effort to nail the exposure. Don't be one of the "sloppy" photographers. We have far too many of them amongst us already.