Last time we covered the exposure triangle. Now, let’s take it a step further. Each corner of the exposure-triangle has two fundamental elements - what I like to call the "compositional" effect and the "technical" component.
The compositional effect relates to how each setting will affect the more creative part of the photograph – such as how much movement or focus is present. The technical component relates to how much and how long the light is allowed into the exposure. Knowing which setting controls what is key to not only mastering manual exposure, but will also increase your speed of controlling the settings as you learn.
Shutter (located in the camera body)
Aperture (located in the lens)
This article is intended to help expose a bit of the iceberg of information that falls under manual exposure; I hope it’s been helpful for you. When you're ready for more, register for my online Shooting in Manual class. I also offer 1-on-1 support via Skype and locally in Long Beach, CA.
Photography is one of those weird arts, like music, that requires both creative talent and the ability to understand some math (ugh!). Don’t be discouraged just yet, because if this dyslexic can figure out how to shoot in manual, I know you can do it, too.
We ought to learn to shoot in manual and master these tricky little settings, as opposed to shooting in program with a hope and a prayer, because we can discern things like the difference between backlit scenes, or a run away toddler versus a racecar – the camera cannot.
Since our goal is a creatively composed photograph with appropriate exposure, there are three primary settings we must master. We’ll cover additional settings at another time. What follows is a quick start guide to demystify the complex settings of shooting in manual.
Let's think of exposure like this triangle.
The big three are: shutter, aperture and ISO.
Good exposure is generally defined as maintaining details in both the highlight and shadow areas of the photograph. It’s achieved by learning to manipulate each element based on your subject and surroundings (which we’ll look at next time).
Let’s take a brief look at each element.
Shutter – controls “how long” light is allowed in your sensor. Shutter speed is determined based on two things: 1) how much movement you want to be visible in the photograph, and 2) how much available light is present. Think of it like your camera blinking.
Aperture – controls “how much” light is allowed in to reach your camera’s sensor. It is determined by, again 1) how much available light you have, and 2) how much of your photograph you want in focus and sharp. This is similar to how your eye's pupil works.
ISO – controls how sensitive your sensor is to all this light coming in. You can loosely relate it to your eyes when putting on, or taking off, sunglasses.
Next time we’ll look more in-depth at how these elements and how they give you amazing control over your exposure!
Ready to learn more? Register for an online workshop today.
Invited to see life differently, a person who notices and shares through glass and process is a photographer. Contrary to media portrayal and #Insta-fame, a photographers job is simple, humble, and in many ways unassuming. Job one: to notice.
The other day I was sitting on my apartment stoop, waiting to call my mom on Mother's Day, and looked down. My neighbor and his friend were sitting splayed out with chalk, drawing a giant flower, dogs, and abstract designs. It caught my eye. And it made me think: this is what being a photographer is about. It's about seeing, it's about noticing the beautiful crazy world around you.
It's easy to let photography roll into elitism and become all about the tool of the trade: the camera. Which camera you use, how many megapixels it has, and the latest one just released are the least important parts of photography. One of my photography heroes, Ansel Adams, once wrote:
"A great photograph is knowing where to stand." -Ansel Adams
I refer to this quote all the time in my classes and workshops. I love what Adams doesn't say. Think about it for a moment... What isn't being communicated in his words?
By talking about the photographer's position, the negative space of his words implies great photography is not about the camera, how many megapixels it has, when it was released, how much it cost, or even what lens you have on the camera.
When we get caught up in the consumer side of photography it looses its soul. Photography is about seeing the world, calling attention to the overlooked beauty within it, asking people to engage with what's around them in their every day. Photography is a process, even in its finished form.
So let's return to the old adage, the best camera is the one you use, and let's go see our world today.
Using whatever camera you have available (smartphone, point and shoot, or DSLR) and take 5-photographs of the world around you. Then share your favorite with me on my Facebook page. I can't wait to see what you see today.