It actually frightens me how many times I hear of “pro” photographers who are charging customers for their services, but don’t even know how to shoot in manual or understand the “triangle” that makes up exposure. So, when I came across this article from a fellow Pictage PUG Leader in Long Beach, California, I thought I would share it. I remember Jon Woodbury being the fabulous photographer who enlightened me about the exposure triangle when I was interning for him, and so I would like to pass this information on. Practice, practice, practice and make darn sure you know the technical side of photography as well as the artistic side!
Article by Christine Lee Smith
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 control the camera’s settings, because we can discern things like the difference between backlit scenes, a run away toddler, and a race car but the camera (or Program Mode) 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.
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.
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.
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.