Exposure exposed!

I’ve been reading ‘Understanding Exposure’ by Bryan Peterson. It’s a great book offering advice about composition, depth of field and other aspects of photography along with exercises to try out some of the techniques mentioned. The advice Peterson gives is a good extension from the TAOP course material, offering clear photographic examples.

Peterson refers to all cameras as being:

…a lightproof box with a lens at one end and light sensitive film or a digital card at the other end. (p. 14)

The handbooks that came with my Canon 400D and 7D were ok at letting me know where certain buttons were and what to press, but they don’t explain why you need them and the variety of effects that can be achieved.

Having options such as ‘B’, ‘M’, ‘AV’, ‘TV’, ‘P’ and ‘CA’ were alien to me and there was always the temptation to stick with the familiar green rectangle for ‘automatic’. The lazy option whereby you frame the shot and let the camera do the rest. However when I look at some of the stunning effects that photographers can produce I want to be able to go beyond the ‘automatic’ and push my own ability as a photographer. For example Howard Edgerton’s ‘Stopping Time’ (1964), where a bullet is shown to have been shot through an apple.

Peterson neatly summarises all the complicated buttons and dials on my DSLR as the ‘Photographic Triangle’. That a correct exposure depends on 3 elements:

These 3 factors will determine how much light will hit the film/digital media and for how long, resulting in an exposure. I hope to be able to understand how these can be used to produce interesting images with creative exposures. So for the majority, if not all, of the images I take during my work for this learning log I intend to control the aperture (AV), shutter speed (TV) and ISO manually.


About Matt

Photography degree student with the Open College of the Arts.
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