Set your camera to any of the auto or semi-auto modes. Photograph a dark tone (such as a black jacket), a mid-tone (the inside of a cereal packet traditionally makes a useful ‘grey card’) and a light tone (such as a sheet of white paper), making sure that the tone fills the viewfinder frame (it’s not necessary to focus). Add the shots to your learning log with quick sketches of the histograms and your observations.
Semi-auto (aperture) mode
A black leather wallet, a grey cereal packet liner, and a piece of white card. All looking decidedly grey in semi-automatic aperture mode. I knew that this would be the result, but seeing it in black and white (so to speak) makes me reflect on the impact on my photos of subjects that are not extremes of black or white, which I make compensation for, but somewhat darker or lighter than grey. Using exposure compensation in semi-automatic is optional – one may not think about making an adjustment.
A stark differences in photos of the same objects using manual mode and deliberate placement of the histograms. Out of camera (above) the white wasn’t placed far enough to the right. The same image, after exposure adjustment in LR of +2 stops is immediately below.
A lesson for me in how far to the right of the histogram white needs to be placed. Perhaps, I’ve become cautious of blown highlights and could be loosing clear whites from images as a result.
In manual mode, one is forced to consider placement in the histogram – no chance of take-it/or leave it compensation adjustments in the semi-automatic modes.