Crab fountain at the Museum of Vancouver overexposed

Playing with Exposure on a Point and Shoot

The one thing you can do with a little point and shoot is adjust the exposure, and I’m doing it constantly.

Mostly I use a -2 exposure for situations where it’s too dark to hand-hold the camera without shake. I have gotten used to this type of darker exposure, and although I use shadow/highlight in Photoshop, I usually don’t opt to lighten it very much, preferring to keep the low key exposures.

Dark pools reflecting the sky in the Pacific Spirit Park, Vancouver

Here’s a recent underexposed shot: an artwork by Oursler in the form of an AI (Artificial Intelligence) Bot glass head, the green glass is from Iran.

Art by Oursler: an AI Bot glass head, the green glass is from Iran

A different AI Bot by the American artist Oursler. Shots like these would be impossible to shoot without the -2 exposure.

Art by Oursler: an AI Bot glass head with eyes that flicker this way and that, and a mouth that mumbles some unintelligible sounds (at least to me)

Shooting in the dark without a tripod often leaves some room for improvement – this shot was run through the photo app Stackables formula ‘Sky Glow’ to add interest to the black featureless background. (Note: Stackables is no longer available.)

Colunga 'magic-realism' sculptures from Puerto Vallarta, Mexico run through the photo app Stackables formula 'Sky Glow'

I can also overexpose on my point and shoot but that I don’t do very often, mostly to brighten up white snow scenes without much contrast.

Snowy trees at Silver Star ski hill, Vernon, BC

In the case of this fountain I was trying to fool the camera into giving me a longer exposure to blur the water. That didn’t work, but I kind of liked the resulting high key shot of the fountain, mostly because all the other distracting details that normally creep into this shot are ‘whited out’ so to speak. On another note, there is no way in post production to reintroduce the burnt-out detail back into the shot. Although if my camera was capable of shooting RAW, maybe?

the Crab fountain at the Museum of Vancouver, overexposedw

I liked the overexposure so much that I carried on with it at next place on my walk, a bald eagle’s nest in a bit of wild land near the Burrard Bridge. That didn’t seem to work too well so I underexposed it slightly and got a dark busy silhouette of the trees and nest against the blue sky.

I tried to get closer, but unfortunately for me, the city had fenced off the land to give these urban eagles some privacy.

Eagle Nesting sign

At any rate, the only shot I was able to get was from the Burrard Bridge using digital zoom. Not the greatest shot in that it’s blurred and whatnot, but is probably the ‘correct’ exposure. And the eagle has landed!

eagle's nest, correct exposure - the eagle has landed!

More of the Lens-Artists Photo Challenge: Exposure.

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10 thoughts on “Playing with Exposure on a Point and Shoot

    1. I loved the AI Bots and was very happy with those shots, as I generally am with all my underexposed shots. The second half of the post was about experimenting, and less about the results than the process. Although I have to admit I was thrilled with my eagle shot, blurred and shaky as it is…

  1. In my experience, an overexposed shot is a lot harder to save. As you say, if the details are burnt there’s nothing you can do. Underexposure is easier to work with, noise being the problem. That can be solved with a bit of work.

    1. I loved your challenge for the chance to actually think about how I use exposure, and I learnt a lot in the process. I forgot about the noise issue, although it’s usually only a problem in really dark spots where the chances of getting a decent photo without a proper camera and tripod are just about nil. Better a noisy shot of an interesting location than none at all. And because I didn’t do much post production on most of these shots I still have more things to play with!

  2. LOL re the “eagle has landed” Elizabeth. Some excellent examples, I’m partial to your overexposures especially. The fountain is wonderful just as it is and I rather liked the eagle nest overexposure as well.

    1. I learned a lot doing this post, and I think I will go out and play some more with overexposure. And maybe later do more post-production – I also learned a lot reading your excellent post looking at other ways to work with exposure…

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