Diving into exposure…

I’m going to go technical in this post so you are forewarned.

One of the easiest and most difficult items that I have worked on learning is how to get the proper exposure in a photograph. Exposure is made up of three things: ISO, shutter speed and aperture (fstops). Each interacts with the other to produce various effects within a photograph and yet creating correctly exposed photographs.

As you change one corner the other corners must be adjusted to ensure the correct exposure. Assuming that is what you are going for. The concept is easy to understand. Now putting it into practice isn’t quite so easy. I shoot manual mode most of the time so I have full control of what the camera is doing. I love shooting manual though it can be a pain at the same time.

The hard part to me is ‘knowing’ what the settings are quickly so I can dial them in and then get the shot that I am seeing in my head. Zack Arias often talks about knowing your reciprocals. This means knowing that if you lower your aperture by one stop you need to make up that light gap by a stop from one of the other two corners and what will get you the results you need. That is what I need to teach myself. I get frustrated sometimes because I won’t have a lot of time to get the picture and I have to mess around with my settings to get a well exposed picture.

The keys to remember for the exposure triangle are:

Shutter Speed-slow=movement (blur) and more light; fast=freeze action, less light

Aperture-high number (small opening)=greater depth of field, less light; low number (big opening)=small depth of field, more light

ISO-lower number-less sensitive to light, less noise; higher number-more sensitive to light, more noise

There is a trade off on each of these settings. You may want to freeze action, but it is low light, so what do you need to do that? Or you may want a shallow depth of field but it is a bright day and you don’t want the picture overexposed. All I can say is practice, practice, practice.

I will close with suggesting a book that has greatly helped me get a better grip on exposure. It is Understanding Exposure by Bryan Peterson. He makes learning about all aspects of exposure easy and clear.

And just because it makes the post better


One thought on “Diving into exposure…

  1. This is a great post. I work with ISO, Aperture, and Shutter Speed every time I take a photo, but actually thinking about it makes my head spin. I know how it works, but to write this down or explain it. Well done! And I love Bryan Peterson too. He writes simply and clearly with lots of pretty photos. I need to dig his books out again.

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