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What is exposure?
A photograph is light. Without light, there would be no photography. It’s as simple as that. The first thing you need to think about is your film. Now I know it’s digital and you’re like, “Film, what’s that?” Well in every digital camera, you can adjust your film speed and it’s just the same as when you went to the store and bought them. You have 100, 200, 400, 1600 speed films. 100 for bright sunny days, you have lots of light, 400 for those action sport shots, 1600 for low light. Digital has really come a long way with its very fast, what we call film ISO. So you do need to change that even in your point and shoots, even in your SLRs, every time you change your lighting scenario, the first thing you do is adjust your film speed because that will allow the light in different ways to come in and hit the film or CCD in this case.
The next thing that you need to think about is your lenses. Now with the point and shoot, it makes no difference. You can buy a manual camera or point and shoots and adjust that stuff but it’s not the same as when you’re—it just isn’t the same. So with f/stops and shutter—and f/stop is how big the lens opens and a shutter speed is how quickly it shuts. So a combination between how big that light is and how quickly it shuts is how much light is being hit to that ISO film. So once you get an idea and a grasp of what kind of f/stop you want and what kind of shutter speed you want whether or not you’re shooting sports, you’re going to want a higher shutter speed, whether or not you’re shooting indoor events, you’re going to want a low f/stop so that can be very wide open and capture things.
The next thing that affects your exposure would be flash. By far, one of the most difficult things to grasp. Everybody has a hard time with flash, even I have a hard time with flash. You need to remember that there are three different types of light when dealing with flash. You have daylight, fluorescent light and tungsten light. Tungsten light is red, fluorescent light is green and daylight is blue. RGB, you’re primary colors, extremely important and useful to know. With that, a flash is daylight. It’s compensating for all the extra ambient lights to daylight, because daylight is the most flattering type of light there is.
Now with the flash, you can either directly photograph on somebody or you can bounce it. Now if you bounce it, it’s going to fill the room and make everybody look angelic, pretty—it’s going to make everything light up as far as a direct flash that’s going to be very harsh. And just getting a control on whether or not it’s up or down and where you want your lights. If you point it this way, it will light up that way and just getting a feel for how that works. It’s not an easy thing to overcome and it definitely takes time and practice. But play as much as you want. Find a still object, take picture with the flash pointing down, take a picture with the flash pointing up and sideways and just see where that light is going and then you’ll be able to gaze what works best for you.