PhotographyTips.com - the #1 guide to better conventional and digital photography Become a Member iPhone Posing GuideGuide to Posing the Female Model BookGuide to Posing the Model CD
Search
Login

Member Login

Find us on Facebook
Follow us on Twitter
Find us on Flickr
Connect with us on LinkedIn

SPONSORS

Sell Photos Online

FEATURED SITES


Record your exposure settings

There's no better way to teach yourself.


One of the best ways to grasp the changes that different exposure settings make to your images is to actually record the settings for each picture that you take - that is, to physically write down the shutter speed and aperture settings as you take the pictures.

It may seem like a pain in the neck and will certainly slow down your picture-taking speed, at least until you get used to doing it, but it’s not something you’ll necessarily have to do forever. It’s a worthwhile procedure that requires effort on your part at the outset, but that pays big dividends in the long run.

When you take a perfectly-exposed image of a difficult backlit subject, it is helpful to know what settings you used so you can repeat the process whenever the lighting is similar.
When you take a perfectly-exposed image of a difficult backlit subject, it is helpful to know what settings you used so you can repeat the process whenever the lighting is similar.

When your images are returned by the lab or when you view your digital images on computer, and you can look at each one and compare the differences between exposure settings, the knowledge you gain can be phenomenal. You can see where you went wrong and where you went right. You can judge what an extra half-stop more or less would do for your image. You can see what a faster shutter speed would have captured, or what greater or lesser depth of field would have accomplished.

Proper exposure for sidelighting can be even more difficult than backlit subjects, although an averaging meter will usually do a good job. Recording exposure settings can help you to refine your metering and improve side-lit pictures.
Proper exposure for sidelighting can be even more difficult than backlit subjects, although an averaging meter will usually do a good job. Recording exposure settings can help you to refine your metering and improve side-lit pictures.

Recording exposure settings is something many pros do automatically, and what most older pros were trained to do as routine. You have probably seen photo magazines and books in which the captions under pictures show the film type, shutter speed and aperture setting. They are there because the photographer took pains to record the exposure settings, for your benefit as well as his or her own, and the information can be invaluable. Of course, some pro cameras, and many “prosumer” cameras, too, have the ability to record exposure settings automatically, usually between frames on the negative strip. Most digital cameras can also automatically record exposure settings. But, regardless of how the information is recorded, imagine how valuable it will be when looking at your own images when you are trying to assess why one image is so much better or worse than another. Try it for a while, for half a dozen rolls of film or so, or for several of your digital pictures, and see if your photography doesn’t improve. You may like it so much that you do it with all of your pictures. Even if you don’t, it’s a great idea for beginners who want to fast-track their photography learning.

Recording shutter speeds will help you to duplicate effects such as stop-action or degree of blur. The image at left of falling snow was taken at 1/1000 sec. The middle shot was exposed at 1/60 sec. The image at right was taken at 1/15 sec.
Recording shutter speeds will help you to duplicate effects such as stop-action or degree of blur. The image at left of falling snow was taken at 1/1000 sec. The middle shot was exposed at 1/60 sec. The image at right was taken at 1/15 sec.