Learning about Exposure

If you are going to learn photography basics then there’s a few simple fundamentals that you need to understand.

Photography Basics free online class


The first is to answer the question ‘What is Photography?’


If you’re looking for a philosophical answer to that question then read Towards a Philosophy of Photography By VilĂ©m Flusser

Otherwise think of photography as nothing more than capturing light.


This act is capturing light is what we call exposure…….which brings us on to….


The exposure triangle


The easiest way think about exposure is to think about what many people call the exposure triangle. The exposure triangle is the three elements that come together to create what is hopefully to good and well exposed image.


The three elements


ISO – Is the measure of sensitivity that your camera has to light. (ISO stands for International Standards Organization which is based in Switzerland but that’s not important. Even less important is that it used to be called ASA which stands for American Standards Asscociation).


Aperture – the size opening in your lens which lets light in. The size of an aperture is know as an f stop.


Shutter Speed – the amount of time your camera shutter is letting light onto the senor. This is measured in fractions of a second.


If you are using your camera on fully automatic mode then your camera decides for you how these three different elements are going to be changed to create a well exposed image.


Why is that not good?


In the coming weeks we are going to go into more individual detail about these three elements so please subscribe to keep yourself updated but here’s a few thoughts.


Your camera is trying to find an average. It’s looking for an ISO which isn’t too high (and grainy), an Aperture with has an average depth of field (arra in focus) and a shutter speed which isn’t too slow (and will cause blurred images).


Quite simply your camera is trying to create an average image. But you don’t want an average image do you?


I hope not, hopefully you will want to be creative and to do that you will need to control your settings and tell your camera what to do and not the other way around!


Fancy Settings


If you have a compact camera I’m sure you might have noticed some of those fancy settings which sound as confusing as they are exciting.


These camera modes include, but are not limited to, Portrait, Scenery, Panorama Shot, Sports, Night Portrait, Night Scenery, Hand Held Night Shot, Food, Baby1, Baby2, Pet, Sunset, High Sensitivity.


There’s no special magic happening inside the camera when you use these settings. All the camera is doing is choosing a bias towards a certain element in the exposure triangle and turning the flash on and off.


For example


Scenery: The camera is using a small aperture which means that the whole scene will be in focus whilst disabling the flash.


Portrait : The camera turns on the flash and chooses a large aperture so that the background will blur.


Once you understand all of these elements, and I hope you will in the coming weeks, then it is easy for you to not only achieve what your camera is doing in these settings but also do it better.


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