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This post was most recently updated on September 25th, 2022

You may have heard that it’s all about the right light in photography. Too much light and you won’t be able to see any details of your subject.

On the other hand, too little light and your picture is going to be too dark. But what is better for a shot: overexpose or underexpose? It can be hard to know what is right, especially if you are new to photography. You fear that your photographs are doomed to be incorrectly lit forever, as you struggle to get the balance right. 

Well, no more! In this article, we take a look at what overexposure and underexposure are, and we find a surprising answer if you should choose one over the other.

What’s Overexposure?

Overexposed is a term used to describe when the exposure of your photos or video footage is too high, and you end up with an image that looks washed out, blurry, or even blown out.

This can happen in many different situations: when using flash, too much light on a subject, or when shooting into the sun.

When overexposing your photo, you’re making the white parts of the image brighter than they need to be.

This means that there will be less detail in those areas, which makes them appear more “washed out” or “blurry”.

The best way to avoid overexposing is to use a slow shutter speed (the time between when you press the shutter button and when the camera takes the photo).

This allows you to control how long the shutter stays open, so you can stop down the aperture as much as possible without causing blur.

It also helps to keep your ISO low (the sensitivity of your sensor) so that the camera doesn’t try to record too much light.

In some cases, overexposure can be corrected by adjusting your white balance settings, but if it’s too severe, then you may need to use other methods to fix this problem.

How To Fix Overexposed Photos 

There are several ways you can try to correct overexposure. The first thing you should do is look at the histogram of the photograph.

If there is a lot of red in the middle of the graph, then you have a good chance of fixing the problem.

However, if the histogram shows more green than red, then you will need to adjust your camera settings so that you get less light coming through.

You can also try to reduce the amount of light hitting the sensor by moving closer to your subject, reducing the aperture setting (f-stop), or increasing the ISO setting.

What’s Underexposure?

Underexposure occurs when the exposure of your images or videos is too low, and you end up getting a very dark image.

This usually happens because there isn’t enough light hitting your camera sensor to capture what you want to see.

If you’re having trouble capturing the right amount of light in your scene, try turning down your ISO setting (see below for more information).

You can also turn off Auto-ISO, which will allow your camera to adjust its ISO automatically depending on how bright the lighting conditions are.

In addition, you should consider changing your aperture size to let in more light. A smaller f-stop number lets in less light than a larger one.

For example, if you have a 50mm lens, you might choose to set your shutter speed at 1/125th of a second instead of 1/60th of a second.

How To Fix Underexposed Photos

How To Fix Underexposed Photos

When working with underexposure, you’ll often find that the best way to fix it is to increase the brightness of your image. You can do this either manually or through software like Adobe Photoshop.

The first step to fixing any underexposed photo manually is to make sure that your camera has enough light to capture the scene properly.

If there isn’t enough light, then you’ll have to add more light to the scene. You can do this in several of the following ways.

Using Flash

When taking pictures indoors, you can often get away with not using flash because the ambient lighting is usually sufficient for capturing good images.

However, when you’re outside, especially at night, you’ll want to consider using flash so that you don’t have to rely on the ambient lighting alone.

Using Fill Light

Another way to increase the amount of light available to your camera is to use fill lights.

These are small lamps that are placed near the subject to provide additional illumination. They also help create a softer look to your photographs.

Adding More Light

The final option for increasing the amount of light available is to add more light to your scene. You can do that by adding another light source, such as a reflector or a flashgun. 

What’s The Perfect Exposure?

 When you are looking for the right exposure of an image, you’ll find that everyone has a different opinion. That’s simply because photography is a creative process.

Even when you are trying to capture a realistic image in front of you, the photo is still part of your creativity.

Just as your choice of camera, lens, angle, light, and composition are all part of this creative setup, exposure is equally a creative choice you make to create a certain kind of photograph.

This may be intentional or you may not have been aware of it so far.

For this reason, there is no correct or wrong exposure, and no perfect exposure either. The best exposure is what works for you and what you want to achieve with your shot.

Whether you like an underexposed image or you prefer an overexposed photo, then that is your creative choice. 

You can always change the settings later or manipulate the image with Photoshop if you decide that you would rather have an image with more contrast or brighter colors.

Final Thoughts

As we’ve seen, there is no single answer to the question of whether you should use overexposure or underexposure for your shot.

Many different factors can impact your image, including lighting conditions, the type of camera (digital or film), your camera’s setting, composition, your subject matter, and also post-processing of the image.

To take the best possible picture, it’s good to understand how these elements work together and how they impact the image.

Then you can choose the exposure that feels right for your shot.