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Why Are My Photos Too Dark?


This is the most common question by beginners and enthusiasts is that why the images they are capturing are too dark?

The problem can be due to many reasons, from a simple lack of knowledge about exposure, to being unfamiliar with metering modes or how to calibrate your camera and monitor.

Below is a list of different problems which most people overlook while taking a photo.


Exposure is basically the amount of light per unit area reaching a photographic film or electronic image sensor. Whether you’re shooting in program mode, a priority mode or manual, you want to aim to keep your needle in the center of the exposure meter (below). camera-light-meter

There are various shooting modes that will further be discussed but, the majority of the time when your photos come out too dark, your camera is either in one of the auto modes, or in manual.

When a camera is in an auto mode, it doesn’t have all of the information that you have such as how to meter, and it will have trouble in low light situations.

When a camera is in manual mode, you’re in charge of adjusting the exposure, which can change as you move the camera even slightly.


A flash is basically device used in photography producing a flash of artificial at a color temperature of about 5500 K to assist in illuminating a scene. The major purpose of a flash is to illuminate a dark scene. Why Are My Photos Too Dark 1

When the flash turns on, it increases the amount of light entering the camera and the camera will exposure for this, and the overall quality of the photo will be disturbed.

The solution of this problem is to increase the exposure by boosting the shutter speed, increasing the ISO or expanding the aperture.

After adjusting these things, turn on the flash and the camera will freeze any motion, record whatever has been captured and the increase in the exposure will continue to capture the background. Why Are My Photos Too Dark 2


“Metering Mode” which is also known as “Camera Metering”, “Exposure Metering” or simply “Metering” basically helps photographers to control their exposure with minimum effort and take better pictures in unusual lighting situations.

Metering is  one of the most crucial part of exposure as it enable you to tell your camera which parts of the photo you think are the most important.

Usually, when images are too dark, the camera is set to Evaluative/Matrix metering where in fact it should be set to Spot or Partial (or vice versa).Why Are My Photos Too Dark 3

Evaluative/Matrix looks at the whole photo whereas Spot and Partial only look at a certain part of the photo. There are many other metering modes available in the modern day cameras but most commonly used are the Evaluative or Spot. Why Are My Photos Too Dark 5


Whenever the topic of calibration is brought up, it means that the person is talking about the camera’s LCD screen and your computer’s screen as it is the process of matching characteristics or behavior of a screen to a standard.

It’s really very easy to set the camera’s screen too bright or too dark. When it’s dark out and you’re trying to see your screen better, it’s natural to turn up the brightness or, worse still, have the camera set to full brightness at all times.

When you go into your camera’s brightness settings, there will be a meter to assist you in selecting how bright you should set your camera to tackle against tacapturingking images that are darker than you think they are.

Calibrating monitors for post production is a different process as compared to the camera’s LCD. It’s not easy and, to do it properly, it mostly demands in some external hardware but there are different alternatives available.


A histogram is a simple visual guide to the variety of tones or brightness levels in an image. It can be viewed on the camera’s LCD screen along with an image after you’ve captured it, or it could also be displayed during Live View shooting, but either way it shows the same thing: a small graph that displays what tones an image is made up of. Why Are My Photos Too Dark 6

By using the histogram in the camera, you can see what the camera has recorded, set to a brightness scale.

In easy language, the left side of the histogram is pure black and the right is pure white. If you have any information in either extreme, your camera has lost information that can’t be recovered.

Below is a histogram from a well exposed photo. You can see that the majority of the information stays away from the edges.


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