Hate the typical blown out rock shot? Me too. When the lighting is difficult and the exposure is hard to pin down, I find it helpful to shoot RAW and err on the dark side. (And no, I’m not talking about the Force.)
Don’t worry if you’re photos are slightly underexposed. It’s better to push process a slightly underexposed RAW file than to try and recover blown highlights from an overexposed shot. If your subject has light skin, it’s going to be one of the first areas of the photo to lose detail to blown highlights. Unless you like all your subjects “high key,” check your histogram periodically to make sure you’re preserving the maximum amount of data.