Exposure Help!

What is exposure?

You’re exposure if made up of 3 separate elements. 

Firstly: the light passes through the aperture which determines how much light comes in.
Secondly: the shutter goes up to allow light onto the sensor/film.
Finally: the ISO determines how much to increase the exposure by.

How to do I get the right exposure?

There are two main ways to ensure you get the right exposure. 

1) Use the Camera modes available to you, like aperture priority. This will allow you to .choose 1 main setting, such as your aperture and then the computer will do it’s best to correct the other settings to the right exposure.  

2) My preferred method is simple to shoot in Manual. 

You’ll need to balance the exposure yourself. While at first thing seems overwhelming and incredibly daunting. Let me show you how I do this. . 

Use your histogram!

What is it?

Dictionary definition:   A bar graph of a frequency distribution in which the widths of the bars are proportional to the classes into which the variable has been divided and the heights of the bars are proportional to the class frequencies. It looks like this…

As you can see there are three main sections, Blacks and shadows on the left and whites and highlights on the right. The Middle is for mid tones or 18% grey. The height of each peak is the amount of pixels in that tone. 

REMEMBER: You loose detail you can’t get back at Pure Black and Pure White. This is known as Clipping your image. 

So now you know what it is, how does it help.you know if your image is over or under exposed. 

Metering modes

What are they? 

Metering is how your camera determines the correct exposure. 

Today, every DSLR has an integrated light meter that automatically measures the reflected light and determines the optimal exposure. The most common metering modes in digital cameras today are:

  1. Evaluative Metering (Canon), also known as Matrix Metering (Nikon)
  2. Center-weighted Metering
  3. Spot Metering
Here is a brilliant info graph from Digital Camera World. Explain each mode. 
Canon Meter
Canon Meter
Nikon Meter

Once you find this, getting the correct exposure becomes a lot easier. All you need to do is aim for the middle. Tweak your shutter speed and/or ISO until its near the middle. 

Not sure which one to tweak, check out my exposure triangle tutorials. 

Cheat! Stack them

Yes, you can cheat. Many professional photographers out there will take serval photos in order to get the correct exposure over the whole image. 

Here’s how they do it. 

They take 1 image to make sure the background/ sky is correct and then take a different image (while staying still, works great on a tripod) with the correct exposure of the main subject and blend them together in Photoshop. If you’re interested in knowing more about this, Let me know below in the comments and I’ll do a video tutorial for you. 


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