The Digital Photographer’s Ultimate Exposure Guide

What is Exposure?

Exposure is critical to all forms of photography, because getting it right can make or break your final image. In essence, it is purely about controlling, or manipulating, your available light to achieve a variety of photographic effects. Often, you will be looking to achieve a balance between highlights and shadows to produce an image with a good balance of tones, but you may also be looking to create a silhouette, a burning sunset, a blurred background, or a frozen action shot. To create any of these effects, you will need to learn how to master your shutter speed, aperture and ISO settings. The tutorials below are designed to help you do just that.

Shutter Speed

Nikon D5100

Photographers use shutter speeds to control how long they are letting light shine onto the camera's sensor. Sometimes shutter speeds can be just a very small fraction of a second, but other times it may involve an exposure of several minutes.

Shutter speeds are usually altered in order to control the motion in an image. Fast shutter speeds will freeze the action, while slower shutter speeds will blur movement. The following tutorials will tell you all you need to know about using shutter speeds effectively to create a variety of artistic effects.

ISO Sensitivity

When you change your ISO settings, you are changing your camera sensor's sensitivity to light. Low ISO speeds like ISO 100 or 200 are useful when you have a lot of available light like on a bright sunny day, while high ISO speeds like ISO 1600 or 3200 are much more useful in low light situations when you need your camera's sensor to be extra sensitive to the available light.

There is, however, a trade off in terms of image quality. Higher ISOs tend to amplify the presence of digital noise, or grain, and this degradation of picture quality is something that photographers are always looking to avoid. Find out more about how you can best use ISO to improve your images with the articles below.

Aperture

Nikkor 50mm f1.8

When you adjust your camera's aperture, you are controlling how much light you are letting into your camera. Small apertures (high f-stop numbers) let in a relatively little amount of light while large apertures (small f-stop numbers) let in a lot of light.

In practice, aperture is used to control the depth of field in your image. Some subjects, like landscapes, will always look better with everything from the foreground to the background in focus. Other subjects, like portraits, really pop when you blur out the background. So, take a close look at the following tips and tricks – they will show you how to get the most out of your aperture settings and help you add a wow factor to your images.

Exposure Tips

Mastering shutter speed, aperture or ISO in isolation does not take a great deal of effort. Combining the three to make an effective exposure, however, takes a lot more practice.

Countless books have been written on the topic of exposure because combining the three main elements can be a lot harder than it sounds. This is exactly why we have gathered together the following articles. They were hand-picked to provide the best explanations of some of the more common exposure situations you are likely to find yourself in, and were written by experienced photographers.

Getting the right exposure takes practice. You won't get it right every time, but if you take the time to read through our expert tutorials you will undoubtedly be much closer to mastering the essential components of capturing a good exposure.

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