The automatic features on today’s digital cameras greatly improve your chances of getting a good exposure in just about any situation. However, because these features provide an ever-present crutch, they can preclude an in-depth learning of basic exposure theory. It used to be that, when you didn’t have a light meter and only had manual exposure, you had to know your exposure theory inside and out. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not trying to extoll the virtues of a “simpler timer” but the sink-or-swim reality of a meterless, manual camera forced a photographer to learn a lot of technical concepts. While those concepts aren’t required to get good shots nowadays, understanding them can help out – even with a fully automatic camera – when you find yourself in a situation that confuses your camera, or if you’re finding situations where the auto features of your camera aren’t delivering the type of images you see in your head.

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