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Using an Exposure Log

written by: Shane Burley•edited by: Rhonda Callow•updated: 6/26/2011

Here is the how and why of putting together an exposure log.

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    Photographic Forms

    Many different forms that are used in photography are only done so that you can keep an accurate record of what you have and what you will need. It is with these that you can look over the different things you have tried and make sure that you have a record of the kind of images you have already acquired. A basic form of this is called an exposure log and is used as a way to take down information about each shot that you have taken. Here is a look at how to put together a basic exposure log and when it is going to be useful to have one.

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    Putting Together an Exposure Log

    Start off the exposure log by putting a location for the photographers name and the name of the project or assignment. This is going to be slightly different for different project types, so if it is for a journalistic assignment you will want to list the client or employer as well. If it is a fine art photo project then the name may be sufficient. From here you may want to include other bits of information that will augment the other two pieces, such as contact information, the approximate number of photos desired, and maybe even the information about the camera you are shooting with.

    Below this heading is where the bulk of the exposure log will be. This will be a basic column table where you are going to have indicated rows for individual pictures. Start with a column that states Exposure Number at the top and a string of sequential numbers moving downward. To the right of this you will put a column with the heading Subject, which is where you will essentially put what you photographed in said exposure.

    Next, you are going to want to put a column to list the type of lenses you used in this exposure log. If you used the same lens the whole way through then you will really only have to list it once and not on each row. After this, you will need columns for the F-Stop and shutter speed, respectively. You are going to list both for each individual shot you take, and you may even want to create an individual column for the ISO if you plan on changing it quite a bit.

    You will then want to create a column for Date, but only if you are shooting this project over multiple dates. If you are shooting it all on the same date then you will just want to list this in the heading of the exposure log. Finally, you will want a column for the time you took the photos and you will list this for each individual exposure. If you forgot to get any of this information when you were shooting you can usually take it from the photo's metadata in a program like Adobe Photoshop.

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    Why Use an Exposure Log?

    An exposure log is an organizational and reference tool so that you have a visual representation of the photo project as a whole. You will be able to look back at what settings you approached a subject at so you have a better idea of where to go next. It will allow you to stay on track to get the shots that you want and will be an easy companion piece for creating a road map of the project.

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