Last week we touched on the modes that are available to you on your camera. Today we are going to take our first steps into what actually makes an exposure. Every photo whether it be good or bad has to be made with these 3 elements. Once we know the settings and there relations. Knowing these elements put the control of creation of a photo in your hands.
The 3 elements of exposure.
Shutter Speed: This is the amount of time that the shutter is open on your camera. Think of it like turning a water facet on and off. The speed in which you do it determines the amount of water that comes out of the tap. If you select a slow shutter speed more light will enter the camera as opposed to to a faster shutter speed. Normal settings on a camera will let you go from 30 sec's on the long side to 1/8000 or 1/4000 of a second on the fast side .
Aperture: This is the size of the opening that lets light into your camera. This size is measured in f-stops with lower f-stops representing larger openings. f/1.2 to f/4 , with higher numbers letting less light in f/11 to f/16. The Aperture or f-stop you have selected also controls how much of your photograph is in focus. Lower f-stops (f/1.2 -f/4) have less in focus then middle range f-stops such as f/8 and even higher f-stops such as f/16 where the opening is very small will have most if not all of your photo sharp.
All of these elements will get full future blog posts but for now get the basic understanding of the 3 elements under your fingers and in your mind.
A note on the lightmeter in your camera.
The two questions I ask myself before I take any photo .
Where am I ? ( a.k.a " what is the light like ? " )
Do you have lots of light to make an exposure (ex. a sunny day, large window lit area ) or is the light dim where I am
( ex. inside a house , evening light , nighttime). By asking myself this I make an initial call on iso ( but you can change it, no hard and fast rules ) lots of light, like a sunny day : iso 100. If the light is not the best like a sunrise or sunset, I may start at 400. In a kitchen with bulb lights I may start at 800 and at a concert I will push it maybe to 1600 or 2000. After a while with experimentation you will be able to judge for yourself the quality of light. In my upcoming article on iso I will make a list of the jumping off points that I use like the ones that I just listed for all kinds of light to give you more examples.
The second question I ask myself is :
What am I shooting? (a.k.a. what do I want to do with this photo? ).
So if I am shooting a portrait and there is no movement I know that I want to use a f-stop that is large ( above we learned that the lower f-stops the less is in focus in you photo ) so I would then select the lowest f-stop that I have at my disposal. At this point I have my iso and my f-stop, so I would dial in whatever shutter speed I needed to make my light meter indicate a proper exposure.
If the question was asked and the answer was that I was shooting something that I needed to stop motion or movement in general. Then I would set my shutter speed first . Example : fast moving cars, you would want a faster shutter speed knowing that this would stop the motion of the car. After setting this I would then select any f-stop that would get my light meter to show a proper exposure reading.
In some situations you will find that you have to make adjustments after you have went through these questions. An example in example A above, Let's say you are shooting a portrait on a sunny day (iso 100) and you have a lens that gives you a lower f-stop of say 1.8 and you set it to that to get a nice blurry background but when you got to set your shutter speed it taps out at 1/4000 of a second and you still have too much light coming into your camera. You will have to select a higher f-stop to cut down on the light. At this point in your development this is the best thing to do. There are other ways but let's do this in steps together and we will talk about other ways in future blog posts.
Now with all this under your fingers and in your mind. Go out and play with exposure in Manual mode. It takes some getting used to but I know you can do this. Next week we will dive a little deeper into one of the 3 things that make up exposure : ISO.
I am thinking I will do a little quick tip later in the week as well. Until then I would love to know what you think in the comments, I will answer you as I get them. Happy shooting and remember you can do this. Thank you for reading.
Note : The best book ever written about exposure and a book I would recommend for any photographer, beginner or other wise is Understanding Exposure, 3rd Edition: How to Shoot Great Photographs with Any Camera by Bryan Peterson . I am not affiliated with Amazon or the author but I think that everyone should have a copy of this book. It is the first book I ever read about learning my camera and the one that I go back to most often. Here is the link to the amazon.ca page for it