Understanding The Basics Of Exposure

Fundamentals Of Exposure

The basics of exposure is the most essential phase for a photographer. This is what separates a professional from a beginner but of course, just because you know the exposure triangle that doesn’t mean you are pro but at least you are in the path into becoming one.

High speed shutter can freeze the object in motion
High speed shutter can freeze the object in motion

Becoming a proficient photographer is a process, it takes time and requires experience but most of all it requires the knowledge on how to capture images properly.  One of the first areas a noob or newbie and even long time photographers needs to understand is how to correctly expose a photo.

Although almost all of the current digital cameras now have smart systems that exposes the photos instantly or just by selecting a settings and all you have to do is press the shutter button to enable the camera’s metering system. It would be an advantage if you yourself can assess your surroundings and decide the proper exposure to apply. Knowing how to analyze exposure can give you the best results and variety of results too depending on your desired output.

Now let’s start with the very basics of exposure, the aperture and shutter. The aperture controls the amount of light is allowed to the sensor through the lens while shutter speed decides the time span the sensor is open for the light to enter. Shutter opens up in front of the sensor like a curtain and then closes.

Now it is clear to us that aperture and shutter speed is tied to each other and essential to exposure. When we use the auto-mode or program mode, we give the ability to control exposure to the camera as it selects the settings to have the right exposure. This limits us into exploring different exposures but auto-mode is perfect for taking pictures and not for overall photography.

Let us talk more on Aperture and Shutter Speed Now

The shutter speed is at 1/400 high to capture the subject as sharp as possible. The aperture is at F6.3 which not too wide but not too small opening to balance the subjects and the backgrounds.

Aperture settings are specified in F / numbers like f2.0 or f1.4 depending on the lens. It allows how much light passes through the lens. The aperture uses set of blades called as iris that can be opened and closed widely or just half just like our eyes. Apertures has one-step increments that doubles or cuts the light in half to pass through the lens. The maximum aperture is called wide open for example a Sigma 16mm 1.4 lens has a wide open aperture of 1.4. The minimum is when the iris is at its smalled for example f22 or f18 depending on the lens. Another example is Zoom lens like Sony 55 – 210 which has a F 4.5 – 6.3 aperture. It means that at 55mm zoom, the widest is at 4.5 and it changes to F6.3 when the lens is at maximum zoom at 210mm.

Shutter Speed

Shutter speeds changed in increments of a fraction per second. The term used for the increment is “stop”. Example adjusting the 1/400 to 1/200sec doubles the exposure for the shutter curtain is opened longer at about 200 fraction of a second more. You can alter your digital cameras shutter speeds into ½ or ⅓ of a stop.

ISO and Exposure

Another key player in exposure is the ISO, to understand it better, let’s know exactly what it is. ISO is the rating that specifies the sensitivity of the sensor to the light. Most digital cameras now has a low setting of 100 which means the sensor is less sensitive to light. A higher ISO for example of 1500 yields a higher sensitivity to light and this can affect the shutter speed and aperture for higher ISO or higher sensitivity will increase exposure to light. You must take note that the higher ISO will result to higher digital noise.

The exposure triangle as wonderfully ilustrated by SLR Lounge website (slrlounge.com)
The exposure triangle as wonderfully ilustrated by SLR Lounge website (slrlounge.com)

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