exposure compensation– in neon

Although it is modest and subtle (for neon), the sign in the window of the local Chinese buffet has always been a personal favorite.  Its design has a heraldic quality, as if it is filled with obscure symbolic meaning.December first neon one-blogIt looked particularly good in the grey overcast of last Sunday afternoon, but I was disappointed by my first attempt to photograph it with the New Phone Camera.  Washed out colors are generally blah.  Verdict: overexposed. As often happens, I had a difference of opinion with my camera’s light meter.  Of course, I have exposure compensation,  so I win.

Exposure compensation (EV), for the uninitiated, is the mechanism that allows the photographer to overrule the camera’s meter settings.  To punch up the colors, I wanted to let in a bit less light, so it was time to dial in a little -EV.

December first neon two-blogThere.  That’s much better.  The colors look great.  But it may have gone too far the other way–the image is now distinctly underexposed.  Of course, this is a phone camera running a basic app, and it only offers exposure compensation in full stops.  -1 EV is just too much in this situation.  If I’d had one of my real cameras with exposure compensation calibrated in thirds of a stop, I could have tried -.3 EV and -.7 EV and one of them would have been just right.

But then I think about how amazing it is that I have a camera like this in my pocket at all.

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