THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS THE "CORRECT EXPOSURE"
I go into a lot of detail and show examples in my classes on the subject of "exposure." For me, the "correct" exposure is my desired exposure. I always ask myself, "What do I want this to look like?" The answer to that question determines what I decide to do with my exposure to get the desired result.
Such was the case when I saw these great colorful tulips on a nice afternoon on Pearl Street Mall in Boulder, Colorado. It was late afternoon. Some of the tulips, the ones in the background, were already in the shadows of surrounding buildings. The tulips in the foreground were still receiving nice sunlight and thus brilliant in color. I knew from experience that the light range between the tulips in the shadows and the ones in sunlight was too great and could cause exposure issues. In this type of lighting, it is very easy to either have the foreground terribly over exposed or have the background virtually disappear into darkness.
When I applied my artistic approach to the scenario, I could imagine the front tulips being nicely and colorfully exposed and the background tulips as subtle backdrops.
So, what to do? I chose to spot meter on the tulips in the foreground, then used my exposure compensation dial to fine-tune the image. And this is the result I got. During one of my slide presentations, one of my guests made the comment, "It looks like you photographed some tulips, with a mural of tulips on a wall in the background."
Next time you see this lighting condition, try this easy technique. Have fun with it!