'M' is for Manual Photography Week 4 - Exposure - Carla Coulson
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‘M’ is for Manual Photography Week 4 – Exposure

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Original Image via here

Dearest Manual Enthusiasts

If you have made it this far my sincere congratulations. I know there seems like a lot to plough through (hey we’re just getting started) but once you have mastered the basics of manual photography it’s about practice and moving onto some more advanced concepts.

Today I want to chat about exposure because this is the zenith of photography. And you need to know how to correctly expose your images.

A correctly exposed image is simply the right combination of an F-Stop, Shutter Speed and ISO. Yep girls, that is how easy it all is!!

Now I can hear you saying but what is the right combination of F-Stops and Shutter Speeds?

Think of it like a recipe, you have the choice of many ingredients and depending on how you want your cake or photo to turn out on which ingredients you choose.

You can start by choosing an F-Stop or by choosing a shutter speed you want to work on or an ISO. Depending on what light you are shooting you will need to consider the ISO so select one that you think suits the lighting conditions.

Now choose an F-Stop that you would like to work with and find something you want to photograph.

Once you have done that, look into your viewfinder and at the bottom of the image you should see a slider like in the above image. This indicates if your image is correctly exposed or not.

To expose your image correctly adjust your F-Stop or Shutter Speed so that the slider finishes right in the centre. As you move your dials watch closely and you will see it move.

Trouble Shooting:

If your dial will no longer move you may need to adjust up or down your ISO as your ISO doesn’t match the light conditions and the F-Stop/Shutter speed combination you want to work with.

Once you have found the right exposure re-check your shutter speed and make sure it is above 1/125 second if you want to hand hold your camera otherwise you will have camera shake. If it’s not consider changing the F-Stop to compensate for it.

If you have found the right exposure you but want to change F-Stop or Shutter speed, remember that you can’t change one without the other otherwise your image will be under or over exposed. For eg. If you were working at F-8 1/250 sec and wanted to shoot with F-5.6 you would need to adjust your shutter speed to 1/500 sec.. Why because when you go from F-8 to F5.6 you are doubling the light coming into the camera and to compensate you need to change your shutter speed so that it will take this ‘adjustment away’. From 1/250 to 1/500 sec you are halving the amount of light coming into your camera..

There are somethings that will trick your camera into exposing the image incorrectly, like a pure white wall or a pure black wall or a back lit image. For this exercise try and avoid these.

When you have found the right combination and your slider is directly underneath the indicator take a pic and voila it should be correctly exposed.

I hope these past 4 weeks have helped you make the jump from automatic to manual. If you were lost at any point my suggestion would be to go back and try again. Sometimes the concepts are a little slow to sink in.

Wishing you wonderful photos and much enjoyment taking your digital SLR off road.




“Freedom is nothing but a chance to be better.” Albert Camus

  • CARLA,
    Thank you for these great tips!I will go back and hopefully a few more tricks will “sink in!”Now, yesterday I tried to shoot the four-legged hounds for our Christmas card and I kept getting” BUSY”.Of course, I missed the moment!Why does it do that…….battery low?Not the right settings?I know your busy now maybe one of your other readers can leave me a comment and tell me WHY!!!

    December 9, 2013 at 5:15 pm
    • Bonjour La Contessa! I just loved your photo shoot with Carla, just fabulous. I hope you managed to get some shots of your pooches. Do you shoot with Canon? It may be you were trying to fire off too many shots consecutively and your camera, depending on the quality and speed of your memory card, kept “buffering” to capture all the images, therefore it kept telling you it was busy. It may or may not be the reason why your camera was taking a holiday in the Bahamas! 🙂 x

      December 18, 2013 at 2:51 am
      • YES!
        Tis a CANON…….and yes I was clicking away at TOP SPEED!As the ITALIAN husband was holding salami above them!I think I got a good shot or at least we are using it!
        THANK YOU!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

        December 18, 2013 at 4:43 pm
        • Haha if I held a salami above my dog’s head, every photo would be of Romeo with half a salami in his mouth! Glad you managed to get a few shots! Merry Christmas! x

          December 19, 2013 at 12:08 am
  • love these tips! happy monday xxpeggybraswelldesign.com

    December 9, 2013 at 5:22 pm
  • Thank you lovely Carla for once again sharing your knowledge with us! My DSLR is breathing a sigh of relief as I am finally using ‘Manual’ mode 100% and loving the results. Sending you much bliss, Heather xx

    December 11, 2013 at 4:41 am
  • Thank you Carla, your M posts have been a reminder to not get stuck in the A mode.

    And Happy New Year!

    January 18, 2014 at 12:12 pm