10 common exposure problems every photographer faces (and how to fix them)

10 common exposure problems every photographer faces (and how to fix them)

Exposure Problem 9. Shutter speed too slow to freeze movement

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When you’re concentrating on getting the exposure so that all the highlights are retained and the shadows aren’t featureless blobs it’s easy to forget that the shutter speed needs to be kept fast enough to freeze any movement in the scene.

It’s a particular problem when shooting in relatively low light indoors or photographing a music gig.

In some cases it may just be a case of opening up the aperture a little more to allow a faster shutter speed, but often you need to increase the sensitivity setting.

Many photographers dread using high sensitivity settings because they are worried about creating images with lots of noise, but provided you keep within the cameras native sensitivity range and don’t use the expansion settings you should be okay.

It’s worth bearing in mind that a noisey image is usually preferable to a blurred one.

Another solution is to use flash to introduce a bit more light and allow a faster shutter speed.

This is fine for indoor portraits of friends and family, but it’s normally frowned upon when shooting gigs and the like, so you’ll have to stick with using high sensitivity settings and wide apertures in these situations.


Best shutter speeds for every situation
Understanding shutter speed as a creative tool
Common mistakes at every shutter speed (and the best settings to use)


Exposure Problem 10. Wrong sensitivity setting selected

Tips from our professional photographer: increase your ISO

If you’ve been shooting in low light indoors and without a tripod then the chances are that you’ll have set a high sensitivity setting.

Unless you switch to a lower value when you head outside into the bright sunlight you’ll find that the camera is suggesting very high shutter speeds and small aperture settings.

If the camera is in an automatic or semi-automatic shooting mode in some cases you might find that you can’t take a shot because the maximum shutter speed is exceeded, or minimum aperture setting is not small enough.

Conversely, if you have been shooting in bright light and then go somewhere with much lower lighting the sensitivity value maybe too low so very long exposures are required.

Without a tripod, long exposure settings will result in blurred movement and soft images.


What is ISO: when to increase sensitivity, types of noise and more
How to reduce noise at high ISO settings
What is color temperature: free photography cheat sheet

  • Michael Rector

    I have a question, with my grey card set, it also has a black and white card. how do you use these to correct exposure? does the above apply to these two black and white cards too, and if so, how does the camera do this without specifying what cards you are exposing to?

  • tom from jersey

    After all these years I still forget that the LCD image on the back of camera is NOT your exposure. I have my camera set up to have the image & histogram displayed simultaneously. Of course the LCD is perfect for composition