Photography Basics: the No. 1 cheat sheet for metering and exposure

Photography Basics: the No. 1 cheat sheet for metering and exposure

Aperture, shutter speed and ISO are three photography basics every photographer must learn, as they are the building blocks of exposure. It’s the exposure meter inside your digital camera that essentially brings them all together.

Your camera’s meter measures the amount of light that’s reflected from the scene you’re pointing the lens at, and it then selects the combination of aperture, shutter speed and ISO that it calculates will produce a balanced exposure. Sounds fool-proof, right?

The problem is, cameras can be easily fooled. And that’s why a sound knowledge of photography basics will help you take control of your digital camera and stop you from wasting pictures.

Most camera meters work on the assumption that a scene should be exposed as if it’s 18% midtone grey. This is because it is generally considered that most scenes will reflect 18% of the light that falls on them.

And there are many that do! Such as a church under a clear blue sky. But in reality the world is not full of midtones. There are bright white winter landscapes, flat bleached-out skies and dark interiors that photographers have to contend with.

To help you along in your photographic endeavours, our latest photography cheat sheet draws on the key photography basics of exposure to help you bag a well-lit shot no matter where you may be shooting.

Our new cheat sheet offers step-by-step instructions in the form of a flow chart for calculating the best camera exposure and metering settings in four of the trickiest conditions in which photographers can shoot.

Click on the infographic to expand the cheat sheet (or drag and drop it to your desktop) and follow our steps for exposing your camera correctly for Dark subjects, Light subjects, Highlights and High contrast.

If there’s one cheat sheet among all our infographics that you need, it’s this ultimate guide to understanding the photography basics of exposure.

Photography Basics: the No. 1 cheat sheet for metering and exposure


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  • jason bourne

    Worthless cheat sheet if you can’t print it out.

  • Robert Skolnick

    to print just click on the image then right click and send to printer….