Tip: Overexpose for low-light shooting

I often shoot sports in low light, whether it’s a Friday night high school football game or a dark high school gym. Because of this, I’m very sensitive to high ISO and noise. One of the main techniques I use is to overexpose the photo slightly and then bring things back down in Lightroom post-processing. Underexposed photos tend to show a lot of noise, which is often hard to fix well in Lightroom. But, if you intentionally overexpose the photo, the shadows/dark areas will look better in post-processing, and you can then bring down the highlights and often increase the exposure for nice results.

Here’s how things look on my camera

I shoot in Manual mode for sports. For most sports, I set the shutter speed around 1/800-1/1,000 sec. and the aperture at f2.8 and use Auto ISO (with a max. cap at 6400). I then set the Exposure Compensation somewhere around +2/3 to +1 of a stop. So, the camera determines the correct exposure based on these settings, and then overexposes it by that amount. I’m then able to do the adjustments in Lightroom as mentioned above.

Note: In order to do this, you have to use Auto ISO, and not all cameras support using this with the Exposure Compensation feature together.