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Exposure and How It Works - A Beginner's Guide
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Sep 10, 2017 16:06:20   #
rmalarz (a regular here)
 
I’m contributing this article to explain exposure for those beginning your exploration of photography. It is key to understand some very fundamental principles in order to produce an optimum quality image. One typical reference is constantly made to a time honored device, The Exposure Triangle. That seems to introduce a bit of confusion. Let’s simplify this entire concept with something with which almost everyone has, at least, a passing acquaintance, something that is dynamic in nature. However, before we start, let’s get a couple of definitions established. So we are all discussing the same concepts across the board, let’s set a couple of descriptions for the purpose of this article. These are not my arbitrarily made up definitions. They are definitions accepted throughout the photographic world.

Exposure
In photography, it’s how much light is allowed through an opening and for how long. That’s it. And, it’s that simple.

Photographic Exposure
This involves the above definition, but includes a light sensitive material (film or sensor) upon which the light coming through a lens, or pinhole, is allowed to fall.

It is understood that the reader of this article is familiar enough with the settings of their camera where it comes to ISO, Aperture, and Shutter Speed. The idea is to balance the amount of light with a duration to effectively expose the light sensitive material optimally. That is all we are trying to accomplish.

So, with balance being brought into the discussion, let’s imagine a scale, very much like the Scales of Justice. We have a beam from which is suspended two platforms, one from either end. The idea is that the ideal exposure will occur when the balance is perfectly level.

We have a set of weights that go on the left side of the balance, and only on the left side. These weights are labeled ISO. They are in values of 50, 100, 200, 400, 800, 1600, etc. Weights for the other side of the scale are labeled f/1.4, f/2.8, f/3.5, f/4.6, f/5.6, etc. and 1, 1/2, 1/4, 1/8, etc. The weights on this side are designed to be used together in some combination.

We now have all the tools to determine a means to associate the three weights. If the beam is perfectly horizontal, we have the correct settings for an optimum exposure. For example, let’s say we have a scene that requires a setting of f/11 at 1/125 of a second to balance an ISO of 100. If we choose to change the f/11 weight to f/5.6, we are either going to have to change the 1/125 weight to another value to make the scale balance again. In this case, the 1/125 weight would have to be replaced by one of value 1/500.

There is a one to one ratio in the manner in which the right hand weights work. As we saw in the above example, we changed the f/stop weight 2 units, f/11 -> f/8 ->f/5.6, we had to change the associated weight by two units, 1/125 -> 1/250 -> 1/500, as well.

If we change the left hand side of the scale, we are going to need to change one or both of the right hand scale to keep things in balance. It’s all that simple. Once this simple concept is understood one can see that exposure becomes a system management situation. Understanding the systems completely will aid in making consistently better exposures.

| Reply
Sep 10, 2017 16:15:20   #
terry44
 
Good post thanks for putting it up.
rmalarz wrote:
I’m contributing this article to explain exposure for those beginning your exploration of photography. It is key to understand some very fundamental principles in order to produce an optimum quality image. One typical reference is constantly made to a time honored device, The Exposure Triangle. That seems to introduce a bit of confusion. Let’s simplify this entire concept with something with which almost everyone has, at least, a passing acquaintance, something that is dynamic in nature. However, before we start, let’s get a couple of definitions established. So we are all discussing the same concepts across the board, let’s set a couple of descriptions for the purpose of this article. These are not my arbitrarily made up definitions. They are definitions accepted throughout the photographic world.

Exposure
In photography, it’s how much light is allowed through an opening and for how long. That’s it. And, it’s that simple.

Photographic Exposure
This involves the above definition, but includes a light sensitive material (film or sensor) upon which the light coming through a lens, or pinhole, is allowed to fall.

It is understood that the reader of this article is familiar enough with the settings of their camera where it comes to ISO, Aperture, and Shutter Speed. The idea is to balance the amount of light with a duration to effectively expose the light sensitive material optimally. That is all we are trying to accomplish.

So, with balance being brought into the discussion, let’s imagine a scale, very much like the Scales of Justice. We have a beam from which is suspended two platforms, one from either end. The idea is that the ideal exposure will occur when the balance is perfectly level.

We have a set of weights that go on the left side of the balance, and only on the left side. These weights are labeled ISO. They are in values of 50, 100, 200, 400, 800, 1600, etc. Weights for the other side of the scale are labeled f/1.4, f/2.8, f/3.5, f/4.6, f/5.6, etc. and 1, 1/2, 1/4, 1/8, etc. The weights on this side are designed to be used together in some combination.

We now have all the tools to determine a means to associate the three weights. If the beam is perfectly horizontal, we have the correct settings for an optimum exposure. For example, let’s say we have a scene that requires a setting of f/11 at 1/125 of a second to balance an ISO of 100. If we choose to change the f/11 weight to f/5.6, we are either going to have to change the 1/125 weight to another value to make the scale balance again. In this case, the 1/125 weight would have to be replaced by one of value 1/500.

There is a one to one ratio in the manner in which the right hand weights work. As we saw in the above example, we changed the f/stop weight 2 units, f/11 -> f/8 ->f/5.6, we had to change the associated weight by two units, 1/125 -> 1/250 -> 1/500, as well.

If we change the left hand side of the scale, we are going to need to change one or both of the right hand scale to keep things in balance. It’s all that simple. Once this simple concept is understood one can see that exposure becomes a system management situation. Understanding the systems completely will aid in making consistently better exposures.
I’m contributing this article to explain exposure ... (show quote)



| Reply
Sep 10, 2017 17:16:43   #
rjaywallace (a regular here)
 
Clear and concise, Robert. Well stated. Thank you.

| Reply
Sep 10, 2017 17:26:56   #
rmalarz (a regular here)
 
Terry and Ralph, thanks for the compliments. I appreciate you taking the time to read and comment.
--Bob

| Reply
Sep 10, 2017 17:36:28   #
terry44
 
It is refreshing to see someone getting this forum back on course with helpful and meaning advice this is what this forum is all about thank you again for a very good post which will help quite a few on here I believe.
rmalarz wrote:
Terry and Ralph, thanks for the compliments. I appreciate you taking the time to read and comment.
--Bob

| Reply
Sep 10, 2017 17:58:10   #
rmalarz (a regular here)
 
Terry, look forward to a few more, as time allows. Thanks again for your compliments and support.
--Bob
terry44 wrote:
It is refreshing to see someone getting this forum back on course with helpful and meaning advice this is what this forum is all about thank you again for a very good post which will help quite a few on here I believe.

| Reply
Sep 10, 2017 18:24:06   #
rook2c4
 
Your article is certainly accurate. How effective it will be to teach a typical beginner, I'm not sure. All those values peppered throughout the text may be confusing to a student. I suppose it will depend on the effectiveness of the lesson before it, which would need to explain what aperture, shutter speed and ISO are and what the values mean.

| Reply
Sep 10, 2017 18:50:31   #
Gene51 (a regular here)
 
rmalarz wrote:
I’m contributing this article to explain exposure for those beginning your exploration of photography. It is key to understand some very fundamental principles in order to produce an optimum quality image. One typical reference is constantly made to a time honored device, The Exposure Triangle. That seems to introduce a bit of confusion. Let’s simplify this entire concept with something with which almost everyone has, at least, a passing acquaintance, something that is dynamic in nature. However, before we start, let’s get a couple of definitions established. So we are all discussing the same concepts across the board, let’s set a couple of descriptions for the purpose of this article. These are not my arbitrarily made up definitions. They are definitions accepted throughout the photographic world.

Exposure
In photography, it’s how much light is allowed through an opening and for how long. That’s it. And, it’s that simple.

Photographic Exposure
This involves the above definition, but includes a light sensitive material (film or sensor) upon which the light coming through a lens, or pinhole, is allowed to fall.

It is understood that the reader of this article is familiar enough with the settings of their camera where it comes to ISO, Aperture, and Shutter Speed. The idea is to balance the amount of light with a duration to effectively expose the light sensitive material optimally. That is all we are trying to accomplish.

So, with balance being brought into the discussion, let’s imagine a scale, very much like the Scales of Justice. We have a beam from which is suspended two platforms, one from either end. The idea is that the ideal exposure will occur when the balance is perfectly level.

We have a set of weights that go on the left side of the balance, and only on the left side. These weights are labeled ISO. They are in values of 50, 100, 200, 400, 800, 1600, etc. Weights for the other side of the scale are labeled f/1.4, f/2.8, f/3.5, f/4.6, f/5.6, etc. and 1, 1/2, 1/4, 1/8, etc. The weights on this side are designed to be used together in some combination.

We now have all the tools to determine a means to associate the three weights. If the beam is perfectly horizontal, we have the correct settings for an optimum exposure. For example, let’s say we have a scene that requires a setting of f/11 at 1/125 of a second to balance an ISO of 100. If we choose to change the f/11 weight to f/5.6, we are either going to have to change the 1/125 weight to another value to make the scale balance again. In this case, the 1/125 weight would have to be replaced by one of value 1/500.

There is a one to one ratio in the manner in which the right hand weights work. As we saw in the above example, we changed the f/stop weight 2 units, f/11 -> f/8 ->f/5.6, we had to change the associated weight by two units, 1/125 -> 1/250 -> 1/500, as well.

If we change the left hand side of the scale, we are going to need to change one or both of the right hand scale to keep things in balance. It’s all that simple. Once this simple concept is understood one can see that exposure becomes a system management situation. Understanding the systems completely will aid in making consistently better exposures.
I’m contributing this article to explain exposure ... (show quote)



| Reply
Sep 10, 2017 20:20:45   #
Rongnongno
 
Good analogy.

| Reply
Sep 10, 2017 21:09:12   #
rehess
 
This is a fine explanation, but I don't understand why it is necessary.

In June 1969 I used college graduation money to purchase my first adjustable camera, a Yashica rangefinder camera. I glanced through the instructions, loaded a roll of film, set dial to match "ASA" number on film box, and took some properly exposed pictures. To take a picture, I moved a lens dial to match EV reading from the enclosed light meter; then I had the choice of turning another dial which changed the shutter speed {on dial} / aperture {in little window} combination called for.

This process was slightly more complicated than "P" mode today, but roughly comparable.



| Reply
Sep 11, 2017 05:58:28   #
BJW
 
Very helpful.
Thank you.
BJW

| Reply
Sep 11, 2017 06:24:35   #
cameraf4 (a regular here)
 
And you know, it doesn't matter how many years I've been doing this, I still enjoy reading a good article by someone who knows his stuff. Good job, Bob.

| Reply
Sep 11, 2017 06:32:08   #
Rathyatra (a regular here)
 
rmalarz wrote:
I’m contributing this article to explain exposure for those beginning your exploration of photography. It is key to understand some very fundamental principles in order to produce an optimum quality image. One typical reference is constantly made to a time honored device, The Exposure Triangle. That seems to introduce a bit of confusion. Let’s simplify this entire concept with something with which almost everyone has, at least, a passing acquaintance, something that is dynamic in nature. However, before we start, let’s get a couple of definitions established. So we are all discussing the same concepts across the board, let’s set a couple of descriptions for the purpose of this article. These are not my arbitrarily made up definitions. They are definitions accepted throughout the photographic world.

Exposure
In photography, it’s how much light is allowed through an opening and for how long. That’s it. And, it’s that simple.

Photographic Exposure
This involves the above definition, but includes a light sensitive material (film or sensor) upon which the light coming through a lens, or pinhole, is allowed to fall.

It is understood that the reader of this article is familiar enough with the settings of their camera where it comes to ISO, Aperture, and Shutter Speed. The idea is to balance the amount of light with a duration to effectively expose the light sensitive material optimally. That is all we are trying to accomplish.

So, with balance being brought into the discussion, let’s imagine a scale, very much like the Scales of Justice. We have a beam from which is suspended two platforms, one from either end. The idea is that the ideal exposure will occur when the balance is perfectly level.

We have a set of weights that go on the left side of the balance, and only on the left side. These weights are labeled ISO. They are in values of 50, 100, 200, 400, 800, 1600, etc. Weights for the other side of the scale are labeled f/1.4, f/2.8, f/3.5, f/4.6, f/5.6, etc. and 1, 1/2, 1/4, 1/8, etc. The weights on this side are designed to be used together in some combination.

We now have all the tools to determine a means to associate the three weights. If the beam is perfectly horizontal, we have the correct settings for an optimum exposure. For example, let’s say we have a scene that requires a setting of f/11 at 1/125 of a second to balance an ISO of 100. If we choose to change the f/11 weight to f/5.6, we are either going to have to change the 1/125 weight to another value to make the scale balance again. In this case, the 1/125 weight would have to be replaced by one of value 1/500.

There is a one to one ratio in the manner in which the right hand weights work. As we saw in the above example, we changed the f/stop weight 2 units, f/11 -> f/8 ->f/5.6, we had to change the associated weight by two units, 1/125 -> 1/250 -> 1/500, as well.

If we change the left hand side of the scale, we are going to need to change one or both of the right hand scale to keep things in balance. It’s all that simple. Once this simple concept is understood one can see that exposure becomes a system management situation. Understanding the systems completely will aid in making consistently better exposures.
I’m contributing this article to explain exposure ... (show quote)


Very good - simple and straightforward explanation - thanks for your post.

| Reply
Sep 11, 2017 07:03:15   #
SkyKing
 
...great visualization...thanks...

| Reply
Sep 11, 2017 07:34:15   #
ragatazz
 
Thank you for sharing this with us, I found it very useful.

| Reply
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