Try exposing for various parts of your image, then combing them later when editing
Camera makers extol metering systems that deliver perfect exposure every time, but here’s the reality: Often there is no one correct exposure. That’s why Las Vegas shooter David Thompson makes a habit of bracketing all the important pictures he takes. It lets him, if necessary, produce high dynamic-range (HDR) composites in the editing stage. As a result, his best photos always show plenty of highlight and shadow detail, even with high-contrast scenes. As habits go, it’s a keeper.
“For this Brooklyn Bridge shot, I bracketed, making under- and normal exposures,” says Thompson. “By blending the two using Photoshop layers, I held onto detail and color in the dark, mossy foreground rocks, as well as the bright buildings in the sunlit background.”
Another tip? “I often use a graduated neutral-density filter for scenes like this. And to make sure I have a clean base image that shows no evidence of that dark-to-light graduation, I bracket with and without the filter, too,” he says.