Snapshots To Photographs-The Components Of Proper Exposure

This episode of Mark’s Photography Spot is the first in a series of videos I’ll be doing to help you get your camera out of “Auto” mode. I call the series “Snapshots to Photographs” This episode is about the components of proper exposure-ISO, Aperture and Shutter Speed. These three things work together to create the image on your camera’s sensor or film. Here’s a brief description of each:

ISO-This determines your camera’s sensitivity to light. The lower the ISO, the less sensitive. ISO is expressed in numbers, usually something like 100,200,400,800,1600,3200. Each larger number indicates a doubling in sensitivity. So, going from an ISO of 100 to 400 means that the camera is going to be four times as sensitive to light at ISO 400 then ISO 100. Higher ISO can help you get an image you might not be able to get, especially in lower light but it comes at the price of increased noise in the image.

Aperture- This is the size of the opening in the lens/camera that light passes through when the image is taken. Apertures can vary from as big as f/1.4 to as small as f/32. The smaller the f/number the larger the opening. Aperture allows you to manipulate the depth of field in an image. Using a small aperture like f/16 will give you image a large depth of field with everything in focus while using a large aperture like f/2.0 will give you a shallow depth of field allowing the background to be blurred.

Shutter Speed- If you want to control how long light hits your film or digital sensor, you do it by changing the shutter speed. Shutter speed is often expressed as fractions of a second (1/500, 1/250, 1/125, 1/60, 1/30...) A shutter speed of 1/500 is faster than 1/250, which is faster than 1/60, etc. Varying the shutter speed gives you the ability to emphasise motion or stop action. A fast shutter speed will stop a race car in your image while a slower shutter speed will introduce interesting motion effects.

The important thing to remember is that every single image you take with any camera is the result of manipulating ISO, Aperture and Shutter speed. They are all interrelated and changing one component forces you to change the others. This gives you a lot of creative freedom but also forces you to pay attention to what you are doing to get the image that you want.

A great resource for understanding exposure is the book “Understanding Exposure”, written by Bryan Peterson. It is well worth reading and explains how ISO, Aperture and Shutter interact to create a final image. Here is a link to the book on Amazon:

Stay tuned for the next videos in this series as I dig a little deeper into ISO, Aperture and Shutter Speed.

You’ll be able to find all the videos in this series in the playlist “Snapshots to Photographs”.

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