Photography Tips | Exposure

Well I am now back to work after the festivities I figured there will be many of you who were given a new camera for Christmas.  I hope this blog will get you started on understanding how it works! Over the next few months a selection of my posts will have little tutorials to encourage you to take your new camera of Auto.  First though a little update.

Christmas Wedding Photography

I have a little catching up to do! I photographed three weddings and a Christening in the run up to Christmas, ending on the 22nd of December so I have quite a lot of editing to keep me busy this January. I also have my next Underwater Baby Photography shoot on the 18th January with The Active Baby Company at Swim Works in Rugby. It’s great to be working with a new swim school.

Understanding Exposure:

So you have your new camera and it is still stuck on Auto. Even I think photography text books and manuals are a nightmare.  There is so much to learn with the art of photography so as a beginner you are likely to become very quickly overwhelmed and give up! I am going to give you bite-sized information and tuition so hopefully over time you will get your camera confidently off Auto without pages of text overwhelming you.

It’s All About Light:


With photography, it is all about ‘light’ and how that light gets translated through the lens onto the film or the sensor. You can make daytime look like night if you want, you can photograph landscapes with clarity to infinity or blur backgrounds to show details in your foreground subject. As a photographer you bring your camera to your eye when you are inspired by something, or want to capture something. The art with photography is to capture what you see in your minds eye. You may see sunlight lighting your daughters face as she looks out of the window, but if you camera is set to Auto and it is making all the creative decisions you will have no control over the creation of the image. Your camera will make decisions based on lighting conditions to get an accurate exposure only – meaning a shot that is neither under, or over-exposed.

To master photography is to be able to use your camera to capture the images you see in your mind, and from there push the boundaries, create images that are not seen with the eye but add drama to either a mediocre scene or make an amazing scene breathtaking.




What is Exposure? Exposure is the critical element that determines what is recorded on film or on the image sensor. Simply put, an image is recorded in photography by light reaching the sensor, you are ‘exposing’ your sensor to light. This ‘exposure’ and how you use your camera to do this is how you vary your imagery in photography and how you take control of your photography. There are only three adjustable elements in photography, ISO, Aperture and Shutter Speed.  These three controls all combine to give an exposure value, called EV. You don’t need to know that but the text books will confuse you with it! If you change any one of these three settings there will be a measurable difference on how the other two elements react to expose the image sensor, and ultimately how the image looks.

To keep these tutorials simple we will look at these individual elements later. It is important first to get your head around exposure. Actually ‘correct’ exposure is very subjective, as a wedding photographer I slightly over-expose a brides veil just a little to give a soft look to the lighting on the brides face, I also slightly underexpose when I shoot outside in woods and often add artificial light to add drama to a photograph. A true ‘underexposed’ photograph is when the image is unreadable and there is no image information in the shadows or it is completely black with no information at all.  In this instance not enough light has hit the sensor to create an image. In the case of ‘overexposure’ it is the reverse. Too much light has hit the image and the information in the highlights are unreadable or the image is completely white from being exposed to too much light.  Below are three images showing the effect of under or over exposing an image.

Underexposed Photograph
Exposed Photograph

Overexposed Photograph

So from this little tutorial I hope you have grasped the very basics of exposure and what the term ‘exposed shot’ means. To understand why a shot is blown out white or why it is showing completely black will become incredibly important when you start taking photographs deciding your own settings based on available light.  Understanding why a shot ‘went wrong’ will be the first step to getting it right!

So that’s it this week.

Next week I will be giving you a little preview at my two Christmas weddings at Hothorpe Hall.

Have a good week!

K x