Often, when we first seek out a shot, the one thing that comes just after composition is exposure: what shutter, aperture, metering, white balance, & ISO to use? All five things affect exposure in the shot and making the decision sometimes isn’t the easiest thing to do. While the last three things (metering, white balance & ISO) aren’t specifically exposure related, they have a strong influence on exposure in how the color & light turn out.
In the above shot, exposure to bring out the right atmosphere was somewhat tricky. There metering was set to spot because I wanted to focus specifically on the cream-colored rose under a sky dominated by a smoke-filled haze. With the sky above acting as if it was overcast (it was filled by high-up smoke from nearby forest fires), the color cast was a pale orange-yellow and barely visible; so the task was to bring out this color cast, not eliminate it, so a cloudy/shade white balance was set (a setting I usually stick with because of the way it brings out the surrounding colors). Going lighter with a slower shutter speed, would remove some of the color cast, making it paler, so I chose to go a bit darker to bring out the slight color cast; I choose spot metering mode to get the meter to read for the rose alone. For the aperture, I wanted to get just the rose in focus, so a mid-range f-stop aperture was decided on. So while the shot above has a bit of darkness to it, the color cast makes up for it, making it look a bit burnt, thanks to the haze in the atmosphere. The ISO was set to my usual (200) and, because of the lighting, it worked out right.
Although this is basically a post-shot analysis, it helps to do these every now and then because it can significantly help us to really think through where we’re going with our photography and what, and where, we expect ourselves to be. Part of the fun of it is seeing how far we’ve come since we’ve first started, but in order to do just that, we’ve got to push past the frustrations; something that I’ll have to admit that I’m horrible at. Sometimes we’ve got to just hope that we’ll see the light at the end of the tunnel, and not the freight train.