Overexposed pictures using Aperture priority?


TPF Noob!
Sep 26, 2008
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Hi there,

I'm very new to DSLR photography so this is most likely something very basic that I am doing wrong, but bare with me.

I have a D80, and take lots of snowboarding/skiing pictures. When it's overcast I don't seem to have a problem with the exposure-most are usually just slightly off which I can fix, however today it was very bright outside, full sun.

I shot about 50 frames in Aperture priority and they are all very overexposed, some are almost all white. Since the camera sets the shutter speed for me, I'm guessing it has something to do with the aperture I am setting the camera at? I tried all different apertures and it didn't help.

I know I can always shoot in a different mode but don't really know where to start using manual yet.

So after that long ramble my question I guess is is this happening because the camera is choosing an incorrect shutter speed, or is the aperture I am using, or is it something else?

And if i need to use a different mode which one, and what settings would be best for this type of situation? (snow and blue skies/sun)

Snow and any time you have a very brightly lit whites can fool your automatic meter. Take a few test shots, check your histogram and feel free to chimp a bit until you lock in your exposure compensation that'll work for you.
There could be two reasons:

You have set an aperture that causes the camera to go beyond the fastest shutter speed. Most camera's would indicate this in some way ... ie flashing shutter speed in LCD.

You have metered for a dark area (or most of the scene is dark) and the subject is a lighter area.
This is one of those rare cases in which the problem is actually the camera, not you ;)

The D80, like the D40, has a not-so-good metering system. Set your exposure compensation to -0.7 EV and it will get most of the shots right.
You may also want to look into custom white balancing. That snow can throw off the camera fairly easily. Custom white balance with exposure compensation will be your friend once you learn it.

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