June 1 Understanding Exposure

“You don’t make a photograph just with a camera. You bring to the act of photography all the pictures you have seen, the books you have read, the music you have heard, the people you have loved.” Ansel Adams

I read this book: Understanding Exposure, How To Shoot Great Photographs With Any Camera by Bryan Peterson. A very thoughtful and sweet person bought this book for me when I mentioned that I was interested in photography. Although I don’t have a super spectacular camera, this book teaches you how to take great photos with any camera. My camera is digital, three years old, Nikon, 16 megapixels and for two of the three years that I’ve owned it, the charging cord was lost (now found) so I haven’t used it since year one.

I plan on using this camera to take spectacular photos in the coming weeks. Today I learned so much about the three factors that work together for fabulous exposures (The Photographic Triangle): aperture, shutter speed and ISO. This can get pretty complicated  (I dumbed it down for us) so if you want to pretend that there are little camera fairies in your camera that do all the work for you, STOP READING NOW. Otherwise, learn on.

Aperture is the opening through which light enters a camera. It makes the focused upon subject of your photo sharp with a blurry background (small aperture number) or shows everything in super-sharp, crisp focus (large aperture number). It’s like your eyeball. When your eye is exposed to a bright light, your pupil contracts (gets smaller) when it is dark, your pupil enlarges to let in as much light as possible. Think of your pupil as the aperture. A big aperture number on the camera lets in a small amount of light (your eye exposed to a bright light, pupil contracts) and a small aperture number let’s in a large amount of light (your pupil enlarging in a dark room to let in as much light as possible). Use a large aperture when the photo requires a small amount of light (bright day). Use a small aperture when the photo requires a large amount of light (dark room). Get it? You are on your way to becoming a master photographer!

Let’s move on to shutter speed. Shutter speed is the amount of time that the shutter is open to expose light onto the camera sensor. If the shutter speed is fast, it can freeze motion in a photo. If the shutter speed is slow, motion looks blurred. There’s a lot more to say on this subject but I haven’t gotten it all in my brain yet, so that’s all you get for now.

The ISO is a sensitivity setting: the higher the ISO number the more sensitive to light, the lower the ISO number the less sensitive to light. ISO should be kept low (100-200) to reduce “noise” in the photo (fuzziness), unless you are going for that effect. Then by all means, rock on with your ISO set high. ISO can be set higher when taking a photo indoors with no flash, but otherwise, nah.

This book, Understanding Exposure, How To Shoot Great Photographs With Any Camera, has teaching exercises that show how to change different settings on the camera for different effects in photography. One day I want to get a Big Girl Camera and really put my book-learning to the test. The book has a corresponding website offering classes, tips and tricks and frequently asked questions. Bryan Peterson has some wild hair. I’m just sayin’, he’s in all the videos and that hair, dude. It’s awesome. You were probably expecting to see photos in a post about photography, yes? Well, in that case, you got me all wrong. I always keep ’em guessin’, folks. I am exhausted after reading all of this. I’ll try out this newfound knowledge tomorrow. I must sleep now….


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