Alley in Pisa, Italy

by Lars Kotthoff

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Exposure is the total amount of light allowed to fall on a sensor or film during the taking of a photograph. This is determined by the exposure time (shutter speed) and amount of light admitted (lens aperture). Today, sensor/film sensitivity (ISO speed) is often also considered to be part of ...

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90
votes
6answers
15k views

What is the “exposure triangle”?

What is the exposure triangle? How do the "sides" affect my photographs?
39
votes
5answers
4k views

When best to use Multi-Zone/Matrix, Spot, or Center-Weight?

What are Multi-Zone/Matrix metering, Center-Weighted metering, and Spot metering? What about Partial? Is there a good rule of thumb, or a few pointers, on when best to use each metering mode?
19
votes
6answers
5k views

What is one “stop”?

I always hear this term, e.g., I had to go down one stop Increasing X by Y raises Z by one stop I turned down the flash/the light two stops This lens/sensor/strobe/Photoshop tweak raises X by ...
10
votes
3answers
2k views

What is sync speed?

When referring to flash exposure, what does "max sync speed" mean?
48
votes
5answers
19k views

Tips for landscape+stars photography?

I'm leaving for holidays tomorrow, and there's a good chance that I'll be able to be by night on a field with no artificial light around, and no moon in the sky. I'd love to take some picture of the ...
24
votes
3answers
2k views

What is the meaning of “white balance”?

I would like to understand the term white balance. My camera has settings for white balance with the following options: Auto white balance Daylight Cloudy Shade Flash Incandescent lights White set1 ...
83
votes
6answers
3k views

How and why do you use an image histogram?

I realize that an image histogram is a graphical display of an images tonal distribution (i.e. horizontal darks to lights, vertical pixel distribution), but how does one really use it and why? I mean, ...
47
votes
4answers
4k views

What is Ansel Adams' “Zone System”?

I've heard much of Ansel Adams' Zone system, but I've never quite understood it. What is it, how and where is it used, and is it still useful with modern (digital) cameras? Thanks!
19
votes
5answers
2k views

What is exposure compensation?

What does exposure compensation do? If I take a photo with a given shutter speed, aperature, and ISO, and then take the same shot with +1EV or -1EV, what is actually happening? Is this just a gain ...
17
votes
10answers
3k views

What is the 18% gray tone, and how do I make a 18% gray card in Photoshop?

I have heard about 18% gray tone — what is it really, and why 18% (and not 20% or some other value), and how can I make it in Photoshop?
14
votes
4answers
3k views

How can I simulate a long exposure photo using a set of shorter exposure photos?

I'm shooting towards the sky to capture the stars. The exposure time is 15 seconds, so I can see the stars still, without a trace. These photos are taken continuously one after the other, because I ...
5
votes
2answers
1k views

What is the EV scale?

I have seen an "EV" (exposure value) scale that's sometimes used to express a camera's exposure settings, or scene brightness. How exactly does this scale work?
9
votes
4answers
954 views

How to choose the correct exposure?

I have a Canon 60D that I use for my primary hobby that is photography, but sometimes the pictures that I took are with the incorrect exposure like this: So I want to know how I can choose the ...
30
votes
6answers
1k views

What is the best technique for long-exposure photography in good light?

Can anyone offer any tips on achieving long exposures (with the intention of blurring water, clouds etc)?
16
votes
2answers
5k views

What is T-number / T-stop?

Usually, when discussing aperture of a lens, F-stop and F-number are used for quantifying. But some photographers, and especially videographers, also mention T-stop. The concept and numbering used ...
15
votes
6answers
3k views

Why are blown highlights particularly bad in digital photography?

I've heard that digital sensors are less "forgiving" of blown highlights than film. Why is this? There's something called "characteristic curves". How does this relate, in film and in digital? Can ...
30
votes
12answers
3k views

What situations are best suited for spot metering?

I have found myself using spot metering on several occasions in order to get the right exposure, such as sunsets and on bright days with a subject in the shade. What other situations are well suited ...
6
votes
4answers
7k views

How do I know I have the correct exposure when shooting in manual mode?

I have a Canon XTI which I've been using for a few years now. Most of the time I'm been shooting in one of the "semi-manual" modes like aperture priority or shutter priority, but now I'd like to try ...
21
votes
4answers
557 views

What's “real” and what's “virtual” on a (digital) camera?

I recently upgraded from a standard compact digital camera to one of the newish "halfway cameras", hoping to get a bit better at taking photographs through having a little more control over the ...
10
votes
3answers
1k views

What is EV, when used as an absoute measurement?

I know there is already a question about EV, but it doens't quite answer my question. I understand EV as a relative measurement, 1 EV being one stop (doubling or halving the amount of light), but what ...
26
votes
7answers
5k views

When to use shutter priority instead of aperture priority?

Under what circumstances would you use aperture priority vs. shutter priority and vice-versa? I typically don’t use shutter priority (ever) and favor aperture priority to try to get a max aperture ...
14
votes
2answers
6k views

What is the difference between luminance and illuminance?

The more I read about this, the more confused I become. Illuminance, as I understand it, measured in lux, is the perceived brightness of light on a surface. It's what you'd measure with an incident ...
10
votes
3answers
860 views

How do I use the different shutter speeds my camera offers?

If I use a shutter speed below 1/30 on my Nikon P100, I get extremely dark images which are completely unusable. If I use the flash, it comes out fairly bright but just not natural. My camera ...
55
votes
13answers
55k views

How do I set the proper exposure for nighttime moon photos?

All my attempts to get a good shot of the full moon with my DSLR result in an overexposed circle on a black background. I've used a tripod, remote shutter release, low ISO, and long exposure, but ...
29
votes
6answers
9k views

How do I use spot metering?

What's the right way to use spot metering? Is it better to use in manual mode than one of the priority modes? There's a question about when to use spot metering, but none that serves as a tutorial to ...
24
votes
5answers
2k views

How to cope with high contrast?

Many times (especially around midday), we encounter lighting situations where the contrast of the scene is too high to capture with a camera. What can we do to create a useful picture in such ...
8
votes
4answers
559 views

How can I get the right exposure when parts of the scene are in the shade and others are in the sun?

Have a look at these snaps. On the first one the church has the right exposure but the tree is too dark. On the other hand in the second one the tree is perfect but the church is too bright. Is there ...
21
votes
1answer
877 views

What is “reciprocity failure”?

What is "reciprocity failure" when used in the context of film?
4
votes
3answers
865 views

How do TTL flash metering systems calculate how much power is needed?

Does anyone know how TTL calculates the amount of power to put in after the preflash is done? I understand that the value is somewhat brand specific, but what is the general logic? Because if you ...
2
votes
4answers
568 views

What is “Dragging the Shutter”?

Ive heard this term of "dragging the shutter" and was wondering what it means and why would i use it Can anyone answer this?
66
votes
10answers
15k views

How should I photograph falling snow?

We don't get much snow in the UK, so I don't have much experience photographing it, and when I tried photographing falling snow last year I found it very hard to capture the snowflakes in the air — ...
30
votes
7answers
9k views

What are the advantages and disadvantages of using auto ISO on a DSLR?

What are the advantages and disadvantages of using auto ISO on a DSLR? Using manual ISO obviously gives you more control, but auto ISO may mean that you get "the shot" under quickly changing ...
29
votes
8answers
5k views

Should I shoot underexposed photos?

Someone more experienced than me said that he always shoots so that his photos are underexposed (darker) and I should too. The reasoning being that you can always increase the exposure in ...
16
votes
8answers
6k views

What is the best way to handle overexposed sky in post-processing?

I'm new at photography and I have taken some pictures where the subjects in the foreground are exposed correctly but the sky is very overexposed. What is the best way to handle it in post production? ...
21
votes
6answers
568 views

Are there specific techniques/filters for snowscapes?

It is fast becoming winter, and this will be my first winter that I have a decent camera, so I was wondering how to make the most of the seasons beauty. I am wondering if there are any techniques ...
14
votes
4answers
1k views

How to maximise contrast range of distant landscapes with blue haze?

Distant landscapes often appear hazy, washed-out and blue due to Rayleigh scattering. What can be done to maximise the contrast range of the exposure when photographing such scenes? For example: ...
11
votes
4answers
5k views

What are good exposure and timing choices for time lapse photography?

I am shooting a time lapse and am doing some calculations beforehand to make sure I get everything right. I am shooting a road trip from the west coast to the east coast and am planning to compress ...
21
votes
8answers
2k views

When is it okay to have blown highlights and shadows?

I've always worked very hard to avoid absolute white and absolute black in my photos. But I think maybe I'm working too hard. When is it appropriate to have blown highlights / shadows? Are there ...
15
votes
5answers
2k views

If shooting RAW, is the white balance selected in camera irrelevant for exposure?

I have read the existing question - Does the camera white balance setting affect the raw image at all? After reading the above post, I am still not clear on the part around exposure. Is it possible ...
12
votes
5answers
3k views

What camera settings should be used to capture sky shots without over exposing the clouds?

I have spent some time photographing landscapes with blue sky and white clouds, but the clouds always come out overexposed. I have tried different settings and still have the same result. What should ...
8
votes
5answers
1k views

How do different aperture and shutter settings affect a photo with the same overall exposure?

Ok, here's my doubt. Suppose I want to get a certain exposure for an image. Keeping the ISO constant, there are two tentative possibilities here: Put the camera at f 1.4 (say) and at 1/1600 shutter ...
14
votes
3answers
1k views

Do the same camera settings lead to the same exposure across different sensor sizes?

Let's say I have a micro-4/3rd camera and a full frame camera, both set to 1/60 at f/2.8, taking a picture of the same scene in the same lighting. Will the exposure be the same across both cameras ...
6
votes
1answer
2k views

How to calculate Lux from EV?

Instead of looking up a chart, how can I calculate Lux from EV? Thanks!
3
votes
1answer
402 views

Why is my Metz 58 AF-2 using long shutter values when my Canon 60D is in Av mode?

About one year ago I bought a Metz 58 AF-2 for my Canon 60D. Because of a lack of free time to experiment with automatic functions, I have used it only in manual mode with other manual flashes, ...
3
votes
2answers
657 views

What advice would you give for taking photos on a boat cruise at night?

Tomorrow I will be going on a boat cruise in the evening in London. I will no doubt be looking for photo opportunities on the boat, both of people, as well as the landmarks/surroundings. I'm pretty ...
20
votes
2answers
5k views

What is the Black Card Technique?

I have found interested comments on 500px: Non-HDR-processed / Non-GND/ND-filtered / non-blended● Black Card Technique and group on Flickr. Could somebody explain how to and cons and pros of this ...
18
votes
5answers
812 views

Why do two lenses with the same F-number give different amount of light?

Why do the following two lenses provide different amount of light? In both images we have fixed focusing distance, distance to the object, ISO, shutter speed and F-number.
15
votes
5answers
2k views

How can I handle two extremely different brightnesses in the same picture?

I am the fresh owner of my first DSLR (a Canon EOS 600D, as far as I know called Rebel T3i in the USA). I'm a total newbie, and the camera is a lot smarter than me most of the time. But I'm trying to ...
25
votes
6answers
2k views

When should I use graduated ND filters and when should I use HDR processing?

I'd really like to stop blowing out the sky and/or underexposing the ground in my pictures. The traditional solution would be to use graduated ND filters, but taking multiple exposures and applying ...
19
votes
4answers
2k views

Why are there limitations to the upper limit of exposure time in digital cameras?

For example, my Canon 550D will only go as far as 30 sec (and then of course the bulb mode). For measuring exposure, I think all the camera needs is a timer, and I have no doubt they would have to do ...