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I shoot 99.999% of my shots in manual mode, so you can pretty always know that my exposure is on purpose. :)
My thinking here is that the exposure is set for the white bird, and if you look at the tail and right edge of the wing on the left side of the frame, you'll see that they are quite bright. You can also see detail in the black wing feathers, which is what I'm after. I could have gone half a stop brighter and still not overexpose much more than the right side of the wing, but then the background would also have been brighter, which would have reduced the light/dark contrast, and I didn't want that.
These are just my thoughts of course. There's not really such a thing as a correct exposure. It's just how you want to interpret the scene. I generally expose so that the brightest part of the scene is just about touching the right side of my histogram, but I'll blow the background out without thinking twice if it's required to get a well exposed main subject, as you will see in many of my Snow Monkey shots.
One question though - The photo looks a little bit underexposed, did you do that on purpose or does the bird look like this?
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Soft Arched Wings by Martin Bailey
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