So I just spent two days taking photos and having a helluva time getting the exposure correct. I figured out stupid mistakes I was making here and there (thought I was in Aperture Priority when I was really set on manual, had the ISO set wrong, etc). But I still wasn't getting photos worth a crap. It was a hectic environment (very hot, in a rush, lots of people around) so I never took the time to totally reset and evaluate ALL the settings on my camera.
It wasn't until this evening, 24 hours after I'd been home, that it dawned on me. I had left my camera in Spot Metering Mode
(I used Evaluative Metering Mode 98% of the time). I wasn't sure why two photos I'd taken in the same place, both in Av mode ended up such different results. I found myself saying "maybe it was that black shirt...." and that's when it dawned on me...spot metering. I ran back to my camera and sure enough...that's what it was set on. Really stupid mistake, but lesson learned. Thank goodness I managed to get enough "good" photos even working with the situation. This explains why I had to use exposure compensation in situations that seemed unlikely. This also explains why I had so much trouble with family photos at Graduation with unexpected results. It also shows how not shooting for a few weeks can really hurt your photography!
Somewhere, I have a small laminated card that I made with a list of settings that I *should* review before heading out to take photos. It's a check list of things I might have changed or need to review for exactly this reason. I have no idea where that card is, but I will find it.
So here's the mistakes, SOOC.
OVEREXPOSED (metered on the dark blue jersey). Taken during a hot and chaotic time that didn't allow for me to logically figure out why this was so bad. I used exposure compensation to take a few decent shots.
UNDEREXPOSED (metered on white tshirt). Taken a few minutes after a perfectly fine photo was taken in the same spot with the same light. I didn't even review the photo because it seemed way too simple to screw up. I was able to fix it in post, but this was the photo that really weighed on my mind as to something strange going on.
GOOD EXPOSURE (metered on the trophy with both dark and light areas). This photo was taken a few minutes before the one above. Looks fine.
And the funny footnote is that I'd put my camera in Spot Metering Mode for the Senior Assembly when I was trying to take photos of the skits and performances on stage. Eventually I switched my camera into Manual mode, then set it and forgot it (and I haven't even done anything with those photos anyway). Some good lessons learned.