Lately I’ve been thinking about exposure. In the workshop about mastering photography that I took some time ago we talked about what is the right exposure and that triggered my thinking. There I learnt that the right exposure is not always the one that the camera says it is. That confused me a little bit, but that will be content of another post. But there are a lot of right exposures according to the camera, and that the content of this post. How to determine the creative exposure from all the right exposures that you have available?
This means, for example, when you take your picture you can set your camera to any aperture and according to the light and the ISO setting the camera will tell you which is the right shutter speed and that will be your exposure, but basically for each f-stop you will have a different shutter speed that will give you a right exposure according to the light measuring of your camera, so how you know which one is the right one?
I never thought about this in a rational way, I knew about the relationship between f-stop and shutter speed and ISO, but never thought that when I am taking a picture I have a lot of options on how to take it. But you do. Depending on what you want to show, the values that you should use.
So when ever you are taking a picture you have to decide between:
- Small apertures (f/16, f/22 and f/32) these are the storytelling exposures, images that show great depth of field. Everything is on focus on that picture.
- Large apertures (f/1.8, f/2.8, f/4 and f/5.6) are the isolation exposures, images that show shallow depth of field. There is something in focus the rest is out of focus
- Who cares? exposures (all the middle f-stops) in here the depth of field is not a concern
- Fast shutter speeds (1/250 up) freeze action
- Slow shutter speeds (1/60, 1/30, 1/15) are good for panning
- Super slow shutter speeds (1/4, 1 sec and over) imply motion.
So next time you take a picture, think what you want of your picture and try to think before hand of your exposure or aperture in a more rational way, not just start trying until you like it. These are all concepts that we all know, but I like the idea of putting them into practice, trying to get less pictures per time I take pictures but a higher amount of good pictures. And I think the rationalization of the picture taking will help to achieve this. This concepts also helps to the previsualization of the picture, thinking ahead.