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I read somewhere that pirates wear eye patches not because they lost or injured an eye in a fight. But because they’re constantly going above and below deck. The patch keeps one eye adjusted to the dark. So when they go below deck, they can simply switch the patch to the other eye or flip it up and they don’t have to wait for their pupils to adjust. They can see in the dark right away. There’s a photography lesson, here. See, the camera aperture setting is much like the pupil in your eye. In the dark, your camera aperture needs to be wide open to let in as much light as possible (a small f-stop number). But above deck, in the brighter light, your aperture should be smaller so as not to let in too much light (a large f-stop number). If you set your camera to Auto or Program mode, it will automatically make these adjustments for you just as your eyes automatically adjust to the light when you go above and below deck (or inside and outside of the house or shade). But unlike your eyes, your camera can’t manage scenes with both extreme light and extreme dark. A simple shadow on an otherwise bright day or light from a window pouring into a dark room can trick your camera into thinking the scene is darker or lighter than it really is. Since they don’t make pirate eye patches for cameras, here’s what you do: In most cases, if you’re not familiar with f-stops and adjusting your camera aperture for these conditions, you can leave your camera on Auto or Program mode and it’ll adjust your aperture for you, eliminating the most critical problems. This is great when you don’t know what you’re doing or when you’re in a situation where fiddling with your camera settings could cause you to lose the shot. In your camera manual, look up how to turn on blinking highlights and your histogram. These will help you determine (on the fly) whether you’ve got the correct amount of light in your scene. Then, also look up “exposure adjustment” or “exposure compensation” and practice using it. With a press of a button (or a simple change in your camera menu if you’re using a point-and-shoot camera) you can adjust your camera aperture to let in just a little more or a little less light according to your histogram reading or blinking highlights. Here are some step-by-step resources to help you out: ** From our archives — on Shooting Indoors ** From our archives — Better Outdoor Photos ** Forget all this and get a set of our AWAI Exclusive Photo Tip Cards  — If you’re outside at sunset, pull out the sunset card. In the rain, pull out the rain card. At night, pull out the night card. Each card details how to set your camera and how to get the best shots. Set it once and forget about it. ** And from our archives – A lesson in reading your histogram and blinking highlights Next week we’re going to talk about dinosaurs, human bed warmers and the left side of a pig. So if pirates aren’t your thing, stay tuned. More photography and travel writing tips coming your way after the weekend. Ciao, — Lori Lori Allen Director, Great Escape Publishing [Editor’s Note: Learn more about how you can turn your pictures into cash in our free online newsletter The Right Way to Travel.  Sign up here today and we’ll send you a new report, Selling Photos for Cash: A Quick-Start Guide, completely FREE.]

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