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The Camera Settings that Control Exposure and How to Use Them: part2

Photographic Exposure and The Settings You Use to Control It!   Revised Edition to correct grammar and make more readable. 

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Carolina.Beach.SM.Edit.snap-Here we are again. If you remember last time we went over what exposure is, and a little on how a camera works, and the controls you use to get the best exposure. You ready to learn more on how to use aperture, shutter speed, and ISO. Exposure again is the amount of light reaching the camera’s recording media, either film or a sensor with digital. The settings that you or the camera uses to control the light is the aperture and the shutter speed. We will touch on both here. starting with aperture, then shutter speed, and we will touch on ISO also. 

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The aperture mechanism is usually a leaf of blades that creates a circular opening inside the camera, or in most cases the lens for those cameras that have interchangeable lenses. The blades are opened wider or closed to let in more or less light, allowing it to then pass to the recording media. For ease of reading and writing, I will use sensor as the recording media since most of us are probably using a digital camera these days. Some of you may have an older film cameras either one your parents had, or you bought one many years ago, or are trying to use film to keep the old school nostalgia! Then others taking photography classes in school may still be using film. Either way, you’ll know if we say sensor it also will mean film unless there is a need to mention film separately due to some types of different properties of film than of sensors.

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The aperture is measured in f-stops such as f3.5 or f22. For now, I will just mention that the smaller number (f3.5) is the wider opening and the larger number f-stops (f22) are a smaller opening. So a setting of f3.5 lets in more light than f22, and f22 lets in much less light. The further down the scale you go the wider the opening. As you may have figured, f8 lets in more light than f22, and less light than f3.5. It takes getting used to, so get your camera and it’s manual out and start getting familiar with the settings, and where and how you go about changing your camera’s aperture and shutter speed. 

If you have a detachable lens, and it has a manual ring to change the f-stops, turn it while looking through the back end of the lens (The end that attaches to the camera), and you should see the difference in the openings as you turn the ring. You do this while the lens is taken off the camera body. Take notice of the f-stop number you change with each turn of the ring to and how wide the opening is, and then you will get more familiar with f-stops and how they affect the light hitting the sensor. Now along with aperture you need to set a corresponding shutter speed to get an exposure you’ll deem acceptable, or to your artistic liking. 

Shutter Speed

The shutter speed is either set by a dial on the top of the camera body, or by adjusting it with a button or wheel on the back of the camera, and you can see the settings numbers for shutter speed and aperture in the LCD window on the back of the camera, a small screen at the top of your camera (if lucky enough to have a higher end digital model of camera), or you can seethese setting numbers in the viewfinder. The shutter speed is measured in fractions of a second, 1/60, 1/250, 1/320, etc, and pronounced a 60th of a second, and so forth. Oh yeah, sometimes I may assume you are familiar with the workings of a camera but I shouldn’t do that. We are all at different levels, and knowledge about photography and how a camera works.

The shutters in single lens reflex (SLR) cameras, or point and shoots commonly called compact cameras operate on the same principle, which is a focal-plane shutter which is made up of two metallic or cloth blinds. The blinds are a thin membrane of whichever material and work together by one opening to let light in to expose the sensor, and the other to close to shut out the light from reaching the sensor. Does that sound a little complicated? Well in some ways it is. The two blinds have to be synchronized to open. and close at the right times to produce the correct shutter speed you set while also being coordinated so that the image is not cut off. When and if we have a chapter that goes into more depth on the workings of different cameras, and all the settings, bells and whistles available these days we will surely explain the shutter principle more deeply and thoroughly. Next up ISO, and this one is rather short for now.

ISO Explained

The ISO of films, which is called the speed of the film or sensor setting is a set amount of sensitivity to light, The higher the ISO number the more sensitive to light it is, or it can gather and records lower amounts of light to expose it correctly as you go up in ISO numbers. The digital sensors of the DSLR cameras, and the digital point-and-shoots or compact cameras work off a similar principle as the different ISO’s of film. It is just that in a digital camera the light sensitivity is changed by light-sensing spots on the sensor being turned on or off to produce different sensitivities. With either film or a digital sensor, the more sensitive to light the grainier the image gets when developed or downloaded into the computer. 

When we talk of grain it refers to the dots or pixels being bigger, and it can show up in your photographs, especially if enlarged very big. Some cameras can take pictures in low light and control the amount of grain so it is less noticeable. The more expensive ones usually have the better low light qualities. Of course, right.

Well. we really covered a lot! You did superbly well, especially if you are reading this, I must have kept your attention fairly well. One other quick note about aperture, it is what affects depth of field. The wider the opening (smaller #) the less depth of field, and the narrower the opening in the lens the more depth of field. Depth’s of field refers to how much the rest of the picture is in focus in front and behind where your focus point is.         Click Me!“> Sign-UP                    more↓

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Now that is about all for now.

I hope you understood it all and were able to grasp the ideas and concepts to getting good, to great exposures. We will cover all the other terms I mentioned in more detail, even the 3 “Holy Grails” of exposure. Remember – aperture, shutter speed, and ISO. This is where you have an assignment. Try looking up where you can read what the camera is telling you should be the right exposure and pay attention to what looks like is lit up more, and also what is in shadow in your final image. Change the shutter speed, or aperture to see its effects on exposure. Bracket some shots by taking a correct exposure and one or two overexposed and one or two underexposed, taking notes for each shot – the settings, amounts of stops over and under exposed for each number of the frame exposed. Hope that made sense?? If you are fairly new to photography this will be a great exercise. Now go to it!

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

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… 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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Photographing Winters Wonderland

Photographing Winter’s Wonderland


Grand daughter Emmy!

As a child growing up, I always looked upon winters as a time of wonder: snow days off school, and family times during the holidays ; along with all the surprise and excitement the winter weather and holidays can bring. All those mysteries still enchant this time of season, and I having aged and gone through many a winter I have had a renewed awe about this time of renewal for the nature around us. My new fascination during the winter has been started by my desire to take photographs, and in the colder months there are times and situations where we can find scenes that can only be found during this time of the year. Among other things, taking family photographs while all the family are together and available for portraits,

Jordan, our Grandson! 2016 Christmas

and candids of the festive happenings that surround this thankful time of year. You can’t replace the surprise and excitement of children during Christmas gift giving or the first flakes of snow that might fall; and how proud the men and woman are when they get that big whitetail buck or turkey around the Thanksgiving season.

I like taking pictures of Christmas trees, and their lights and ornaments that adorn them. During a family tree trimming night is a good opportunity to take great family photos too. The ornament photographs and family photos can be turned into Christmas cards, or invitations or given as gifts for family and friends. I was playing around  and taking some images of a red string of beads to come up with a real interesting looking photograph I turned into a Christmas card one year, along with some spring flowers in an early spring snow, and some berries adorned with snow. They really turned out well by using a photo publishing company, ==== to make them up using predesigned templates. Then I got a batch of each printed off, which I used to send to family and a couple friends. It feels really awesome to take a photograph we took and making it into something useful, besides just a picture in an album or to hang on the wall. 

Well now that I got off topic, you can see that winter gives photographs a different and more intriguing look than might be gotten other times of the year.  Snow and Ice just turns images into magical, inspiring and memorable photographs people will take notice of. Mainly the times I tend to go out looking to take new photographs during winter is when it has snowed, or we get some ice to cover both trees, and other subjects in glistening magic wonder. We have had a few of those awesome snow and ice days in Cumberland Maryland, USA so far this winter. When we had our first freezing rain event, so far, I kept my sights on whatever I could find to make some amazing photographs of. By looking around at home, I found some icicles hanging from the table on our porch, that I created the image to the right from. Everything was dripping with icicles and if  hadn’t thought  to look under the table, which is a metal mesh top table, I would have never found the bottom contained a whole mess of icicles growing like a maze of hanging glass. I just had to make a record of this unusual, and possibly rare sight, for posterity. God has blessed us with the amazing properties in nature so we get to see amazing sights that give us pleasure, and that we get to record for others to see and enjoy. That is the most important part for me, is sharing my images and photographs with others, such as you all.

Wiliam Neilf, a writer and photographic contributor for “Outdoor Photographer”, has it all too right when he says, “give yourself the assignment of producing a winter portfolio of new images, Get out to your favorite local woods, lake or stream where you can return often in various weather and light. Working locally will give you many more opportunities to be out there after a fresh snow or a hard freeze when ice is everywhere.”  Plus for me, it keeps me close to family and friends, and gives more time to write these pages to share with you and others. Keep this all in mind when you are couped-up during these winter month’s, and get out for a photo-shoot at your local parks, the woods, by streams, rivers and lakes, by the bay; and even while out walking around town, or going shopping. I stop many a time on the way to the local Walmart or even take some in there parking lot. The store is on a hills & on the other sides of valleys you see the hills rolling of into the horizon.

Winter Wonder Land at Country Club Mall

Taking candids of people during winter can be made real interesting by the types of attire we wear, and the exciting things people do during winter;  skating, sliding, snow boarding, skiing, and making snow angels are some of the fun things I know of that I really would like to get some pictures of. They can really make for mind stimulating images that almost puts you in those peoples shoes, and make you wish you were doing that same thing by seeing the images, and even imagine the feelings you’d be getting while participating in those same activities.

I think the next assignment I am going to make for myself is to take pictures of how people deal with, handle, and utilize the winter weather events the rest of this winter. This being a time of renewal for nature, it is also a time of practically hibernation for some of us humans, but it can also be exciting and refreshing to get out in the cold, crisp air, and have some fun getting in the mix of. all the excitement during winter events.  When I was out taking pictures of Christmas lights, and this scene of the nativity at the Masonic church in Cumberland, where we live, it was a cold and windy evening. My sweetheart, Janet, and I went out together to have some quality time looking and taking pictures of the holiday season scenes. Part of the time I was taking my shots, she sat in the car to stay warm, and I can’t blame her. I get hurrying to grab what shots I can get when I go out and it is that cold, you can barely stand it.

Checkout the article,       , from last year for tips on dressing right, and preparing for outings of long winter exposure to get those eye catching and exhilarating photographs we all like looking at. If anyone is, or knows of someone selling winter clothing or photographic accessories that help with different seasons of photo opportunities, or ones to enhance the equipment we have and advertising for a percent of sales, we’d be willing to provide banners, links, and ads to promote good products. 

Contact me at:                                                     Or call: cell, 443-852-6550 ask for Tony, to discuss details and get the ball rolling to boost sales for us both, and make life easier for other readers. 

                                                                                             Continued Below: 




My real passion is shots depicting nature and all it’s splendor. One morning during our beautiful ice display God handed us, I was walking down a small hill and right there off of RT220 was this tree draped in ice, and looking like it was right out of a fairytale book, at least after my post editing work was finished. The scene just seems like it needs a troll hanging out under this unusual looking tree. That day different type scenes abounded just about everywhere I went. I was actually trying to find a clear un-obtsructed spot along the road to take a picture of the hillside with the ice glistening in the trees. 

Don’t you hate wires that seem to always be right in the framing of some great roadside shots??I can’t seem to shake those pesky ole wires. It’s like electric people situate them just to screw up photographers chances of finding a clear place through the trees or buildings, and wires, that line the town areas and the highways.

During my search that day, I not only found the fairytale tree, I came across evergreen trees lined up in a row, with ice on them that looked like snow, not 50ft back up the hill, and 25ft from the road, as I walked back up to where I parked the car. This photograph just reminds me of the Christmasy feeling and I had to take a picture of them. Another one of those Christmas card images I like using for making new cards for the season. I was able to master getting a well framed image right there from the edge of the road. Goes to show you, you don’t have to get off the beaten path to find really nice photographs in the outdoors. You just have to open your eyes and your mind to the beauty and wonder in God’s world that is all around us that we take for granted much of the time. 

While you look around you frame things in your mind. Look for scenes that look promising, and then look for small things or groups of things that merit showing your friends and family what you saw and discovered while basking in natures vastness. Even on the edge of the road, or the edge of a field or yard is minute wonders that can warrant getting images of. You can start with small things and then look at the big picture, or start with a landscape and work down to some smaller subjects: a single tree covered in snow, or a branch covered in snow or ice. They can all be used to create a photograph by framing the images in ways that draw the eye to part of the empty space in the frame, or to an interesting part of the scene that you want to draw the viewers eyes to. The skies the limit! No pun intended. 

Remember to dress warm, to take the time out in the weather more comfortable. When you feel somewhat warm your mind can concentrate more on taking those magnificent photographs that the time spent deserves. 

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Stay warm and keep on shooting!   @Tony B. (writer, photographer)  




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