Photography Basics: understanding exposure

Photography Basics: understanding exposure

The word ‘exposure’ has been in use since the very beginning of photography. To make an image, you expose light-sensitive material to a controlled amount of illumination.

That material could be a chemical emulsion coated onto film or a glass plate, but these days it’s much more likely to be a digital chip, such as the sensor at the heart of your digital camera.

The word ‘exposure’ is used in more than one sense. ‘An exposure’ is almost synonymous with ‘a photo’ – early photographers would talk about making an exposure, while more recently a roll of 35mm film would allow 24 or 36 exposures.

However, the word is now used more often in relation to the vital business of making sure the right amount of light reaches the sensor for each image. We talk about exposure metering, about getting the exposure right and about shots being under- or overexposed.

Do you view your memory card as half empty or half full? Don’t let poorly exposed pictures get you down.

In our photography cheat sheet below we aim to explain some photography basics in a different way. Someone very clever on our team had the idea of comparing exposure to the act of filling a cup with water.

Drag and drop this graphic on to your desktop and start getting better exposures today!


Photography Basics: understanding exposure


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