Exposure In a Nutshell

Photography and exposure go hand in hand. You cannot have photographs without it. Exposure is the amount of light that is allowed to fall on the photographic medium (a sensor in digital cameras & film in a film camera).

Aperture, shutter speed & ISO are the three main parts of photography. By changing each you can change the exposure and affect the resulting photograph.

Aperture is the opening through which light travels up the lens. A smaller aperture value means a larger opening. It is represented by f-stop values, such as f/1.8 which is a smaller aperture value and larger opening.

A larger value, such as f/8, will give you a smaller opening restricting light flow.

Smaller f-stop values are preferred for portraiture as they allow a large amount of light to pass through the lens. They have a shallow depth of field and a nice “bokeh”. Bokeh is a photographic term that refers to a blurred background.

Bokeh refers to the blurry background.

Shutter Speed
Shutter speed is the amount of time that the shutter remains open, allowing light to pass through. The faster the shu

tter speed the smaller the amount of light that is allowed to pass through. You want fast shutter speeds for moving kids & sporting events, but if not enough light passes through the shutter the photo will be underexposed and quite dark.

A slow shutter can make some interesting photographs.


ISO is how sensitive the image sensor is to the light. A higher ISO, like 1600, means it’s quite sensitive. A lower ISO, such as 100, is less sensitive. Higher ISO settings can result in grainy pictures. This is called noise.

A high ISO setting can make your photo look grainy.

By turning your camera to manual mode you can manipulate all three of these settings. By practicing you will come to learn which settings to use in specific situations.

For example, an ISO of 100 or 200 works best outdoors. And, you will need a shutter speed greater than 1/60 second to freeze your little one in a photograph. I need greater than that to catch my wild toddler in a sharp photo.

Get out there & practice! I’d love to see what you’ve been shooting.

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