Know This Important Information About Exposure

Exposure in photography is one of the fundamental pillars of knowledge you must understand. Make Sure You Know This Important Information About Exposure by reading through and digesting the information given in this short article.

1. What Is Exposure?

Understanding the basics of exposure is crucial for every photographer to learn. Exposure in photography is a term that relates to the overall brightness or darkness of a photograph. In technical terms, it refers to the amount of light exposed to the film or sensor inside a camera body. The longer the exposure, the brighter the photograph. Conversely, a shorter exposure will result in a darker image.

2. Different Types of Exposure

2.1. Underexposed

Underexposure occurs when the film or sensor of a camera is unable to gather enough light. Underexposed photographs lack information in the shadows.

Think of a silhouette of a person’s head with only the shape and no details visible. Photographers often refer to this loss of shadow data as “crushed blacks”.

2.2. Overexposed

Overexposure occurs when the film or sensor of a camera gathers too much light. Overexposing a photograph will often wash out the highlights making them merge together.

Photographers refer to this as “blowing out the highlights” or “burning out the highlights”.

2.3. Correctly Exposed

A correctly or well-balanced photograph has captured the best possible range of light data throughout the shadows, mid-tones and highlights.

Taking well-exposed photographs is vital because they give a photographer the highest dynamic range in their images. Furthermore, an image with no crushed blacks or blown-out highlights is more visually appealing (Unless the photographer has opted otherwise for creative reasons). Lastly, the extra light data gives better creative freedom in post-production.

2.4. Long Exposure

Long exposure photography, otherwise known as slow shutter or time exposure photography, is a technique that involves using slow shutter speeds to capture a subject or setting over some time.

The long exposure technique freezes an environment while creating a trail or blur of a subject in motion. Light painting is a good example of using a long shutter speed to capture a subject in motion.

2.5. Double Exposure

Photographers achieve this effect by exposing the same square of film twice. As a result, the exposures will combine to create a single image.

Film cameras create this effect in the camera. Whereas digital photographers will create this effect by combining two separate photographs later in post-production in editing software such as photoshop.

3. Exposure Value (EV)

A camera measures the light collected by its sensor and converts it into a reading on a light meter. The light meter uses “stops” to show the photographer the level of exposure a photograph will have.

In most cases, a correctly exposed image will have an EV value of 0. Increasing this or decreasing this value will result in the image becoming brighter or darker.

Generally speaking, by increasing the EV by +1, the photograph will double in brightness. Conversely, reducing the EV by -1 will half the brightness of an image.

4. Exposure Controls

A camera has three exposure controls, ISO, shutter speed and aperture. The name given to these three settings is the exposure triangle which we will cover in greater detail in the following article.

For now, it is necessary to understand that these settings work in direct correlation to one another. Changing one setting will mean the others will also require altering to regain balance. Correct exposure is always a balanced combination of these three settings.

5. Exposure Compensation

When shooting in aperture priority or shutter priority mode the exposure compensation function becomes available.

This setting is available due to a camera not always judging the right or desired EV for a shot. The exposure compensation function is not present in manual mode as a photographer controls the camera’s settings at all times.

6. Conclusion

The discipline of photography requires you to understand the fundamental concepts behind achieving the correct exposure setting for your images. Without doing so one will not be able to achieve high-quality or creative photographs with their cameras.

Fortunately, it is easy to comprehend, and after spending a short time on the topic, it will have you out of the auto setting and shooting in priority and manual modes in no time.

Know This Important Information About Exposure, Know This Important Information About Exposure, Know This Important Information About Exposure

David Davis
David Davis
Hi, My name is Dave, and I am passionate about photography. I am currently travelling to document the world's most interesting people and places. I have started this blog to share these incredible sights and experiences with you, including all the knowledge I gain as a photographer/videographer along the way. If you share a passion for street, documentary, and travel photography, join the mailing list and stay up to date with the latest posts and resources direct from the field.

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