Exposure: Understanding camera settings to control the lightness or darkness of a photograph

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Exposure: Understanding Camera settings

to Control the Lightness or Darkness

Of a Photograph

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 Glad you are getting more interested in learning, or refreshing your knowledge about photography. I have mentioned on multiple occasions that to take better photos, and being more consistent capturing perfect the perfect image, you should learn to control the exposure of the image by using your camera’s manual controls. If you leave it up to the camera to set the exposure and depth of field it will to often be fooled by certain situations. Plus, you are giving up a lot of artistic control by letting the camera do all the work. 

One situation where the camera gets fooled is when a subject is in shadow and the and is back lit. Real quick, it is not that hard to learn how to use manual settings, it just takes a little practice. Take the situation of the subject being in shadow and the surroundings being brighter, the camera is trying to set exposure based on the larger area of the surroundings instead of the subject rendering the subject to dark, and with little detail. The way to fix this is by telling the camera to let in more light.

So, the first thing I am going to teach you is the “holy grauls” of photography. sometimes

Nice Sharp Image with correct exposure, and good Color.

Nice Sharp Image with correct exposure, and good Color.

called the “holy trinity” to photography, which I don’t care to use. We will just call the exposure controls the “holy grauls” of exposure, and they are: aperture, shutter speed, and ISO. First some quick fundamentals of how a camera works. Don’t let me lose you here. This won’t take long and is basic stuff.


How a Camera Works   

To start, we see things due to light bouncing off an object, animal, or person. Just like our eyes, a camera has an opening that is covered by clear tissue in the eye with a hole in it, and usually clear glass in a camera lens that lets light through to reach the sensory receptors in the back of the eye; or in a camera,  film or a sensor in digital cameras.

The lens in both examples is needed to direct the light that bounces off the subject or it wouldrandomly land on the sensors, and  no image would exist. (see drawling 1A).


Both the eye and a lens use a concave-convex lens that concentrates the light to land on the sensor in the right places to create an image, although it would be upside down if the lenses of a camera weren’t grouped together to make it right side up, and to be able       to focus at different distances from the subject. The way the eye does this changing of focus is with muscles that change the distance between the pupil and the retina, which is made up of a series of sensors. The lens of a camera moves back and forth to change the focus distance, either by a person rotating the focus ring that the lenses are mounted on; or With an auto focus camera lenses, there is a motor that moves the focus ring.

Every camera works off the principle: that light travels through a hole in one end of the camera to a piece of film or an electronic sensor on the other end to record the light coming into it. Essentially, a box with a hole in it and a way to record the image on the other end.  On a more modern and even the older upper end or professional cameras of long ago are based on the box camera principle. Camera’s have always had their features that record the image on different types of recording media. Like on early camera, a single metal or glass plate that recorded one separate photograph on each plate, to view cameras that use the same principle only the media is a metal coated piece of plastic. Then there are rolls of film, 110, 135….35mm, that have been used in different size and varieties of cameras over the years. Then there is todays versions….      

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….which use a sensor and electronic media in place of film. These memory cards, as the media is called, comes in different sizes and types of  memory cards depending on the type and model of camera it is.  Memory cards of each type also have different amounts of memory space on the cards to hold larger amounts of files, or in our case, photographs. I will have to do a more extensive article on memory media for cameras, and computers. Maybe even add it as a series with types of picture media such as different types of printing and print papers, and the like?? What types of articles would you prefer? This is all to help you, or others that are new to digital based photography. 

Okay, yes I went on a little side bar again, off the main topic, but it is stuff related to exposure you’ll need to know. 

Real quick I will just go over what shutter speed, aperture, and ISO are. Then in a few days to a week I can give you some more in-depth ways to use the settings on your camera to start taking control of your images, and photographs.

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Exposure again…..is the amount of light reaching the camera’s recording media, either sensor or film. The settings that you use to control the amount of is the shutter speed and the aperture.

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