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Regardless of your skill level as a photographer, growth is always possible.  I think this is true for every aspect of life – not just photography.  Don’t you?  Lightroom can help you grow by giving you important info about the shooting settings you chose for each shot.

Curious why one photo turned about better than another?  Study how your shootings settings differed and see if they can’t give you useful information about settings to try next time..

You probably already know that you can view your photos’ basic metadata and exposure settings in Lightroom’s Organizer.  It looks like this:

 

In addition to your basic exposure settings, this default Metadata will tell you a photo’s pixel dimensions pre and post crop, as long as you cropped in Lightroom.  This can be handy if you need to know how large you can print the photo.  You can also see which lens you used and whether your flash fired.

However, did you know that by changing one setting, you can view two extra key points of data about your shot?  

Pull down the pick list at the top left corner of your metadata panel and select EXIF instead of Default.

This EXIF data will show you which metering mode you used, and whether you used any Exposure Compensation.

 

Exposure Compensation is only a factor for those who don’t shoot manual.  Say you like Aperture Priority mode, but always like your photos to be 1 stop brighter than your camera thinks they should be.  If you have Exposure Comp set to +1, that’s what you’ll see in the Exposure Bias field in your new metadata view.

What if your not sure what the best Exposure Comp setting is for your style?  Go back and review your photos and the Bias settings for each.  Identify your favorite photos with the best SOOC exposure.  Do you find one value that is common to most of these photos?  That will be the one you should go with most of the time for Exposure Compensation.

Same thing on metering mode.  Wondering why you missed exposure on the photo of the backlit subject?  Check that mode to see whether you were on Evaluative or Spot.  If you weren’t on spot, now you have your answer.  By the way, Lightroom calls the Evaluative Mode “Pattern.”

If you have Elements and not Lightroom, you can view EXIF data by going to the File Menu and selecting File Info.  You’ll see your available EXIF info on the Camera Data tab.

Whether you find it in LR or PSE, this EXIF data is really useful as a tool to evaluate your photography skills.  I encourage you to get in the habit of studying it every so often.  Ask yourself questions like:

  • How did the focal length of my lens affect this photo?  How would it have changed if I had gone longer or shorter?  Which focal length is best for the shot I was trying to capture?
  • Which setting should I have used to improve the exposure of this photo:  aperture, shutter speed, or ISO?  In addition to improving exposure, what other effects would this setting change create?

Analyzing what you’ve done in the past is a great way to practice when it’s too cold/dark/you don’t have a subject to photograph.  And using the EXIF data that Lightroom gives you will help immensely.