Questions tagged [exposure]

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 exposure.

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155 votes
10 answers
59k views

What is the "exposure triangle"?

What is the exposure triangle? How do the "sides" affect my photographs?
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120 votes
7 answers
9k 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, ...
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85 votes
11 answers
26k 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 — ...
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75 votes
21 answers
145k 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 tried using a tripod, remote shutter release, low ISO, and long exposure, ...
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66 votes
5 answers
30k views

How to get the best results for landscape and stars photographs?

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 ...
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60 votes
4 answers
8k 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!
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45 votes
5 answers
16k views

What does it mean for a photograph to be "high key"?

As I learned the term, a high-key image is one where the shadows are effectively eliminated, and the mid-tone detail pushed into brighter zones. My question is simple: is this an accurate definition, ...
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43 votes
7 answers
22k 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 ...
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43 votes
5 answers
7k views

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

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 exposure metering mode?...
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36 votes
8 answers
16k 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 ...
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35 votes
12 answers
5k 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 ...
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35 votes
6 answers
15k 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 ...
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34 votes
6 answers
47k 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 around ...
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32 votes
4 answers
8k views

Is it true that the best images from all digital cameras can be obtained at ISO 200?

Recently a very professional photographer who shoots stunning pictures told me that the best images can be obtained from digital cameras at ISO 200. He also stated that this is what all the ...
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32 votes
6 answers
3k 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)?
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32 votes
2 answers
26k 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 (e....
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31 votes
7 answers
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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 ...
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31 votes
3 answers
4k 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 / ...
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30 votes
6 answers
4k 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 ...
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30 votes
1 answer
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What is "reciprocity failure"?

What is "reciprocity failure" when used in the context of film?
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  • 5,018
29 votes
9 answers
7k 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 ...
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29 votes
3 answers
3k views

In Lightroom 3, what is the difference between exposure and brightness?

What's the difference between adjusting a photo's exposure versus its brightness? I created a virtual copy of a photo. The original's exposure was increased 1 stop. The other got an increase in ...
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29 votes
6 answers
3k 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 ...
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28 votes
6 answers
6k 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 ...
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27 votes
10 answers
16k 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?
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27 votes
5 answers
20k views

How to photograph a room showing both room & view out a window?

I sometimes find I want to photograph a room showing the view outside the window. This is tricky — either you adjust the shutter speed so that the the window is so bright you can see no detail, or ...
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26 votes
6 answers
7k 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 ...
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  • 5,035
26 votes
4 answers
4k 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 ...
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25 votes
3 answers
10k views

Why are War Photographers able to take pictures that seemingly violate the exposure rule?

A lot of historical war photographs I've seen are capable of recording the subject in sharp detail despite the subject being in blazingly fast motion, at the same time having little to no depth of ...
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25 votes
4 answers
8k views

ND filter or exposure compensation?

I was at the camera shop a few weeks ago looking for a neutral density filter, so I could play around with long exposure shots without overexposing. The guy at the camera shop told me I didn't need a ...
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  • 363
25 votes
5 answers
8k views

Why doesn't the picture become darker the more you zoom in?

As your lens's focal length gets longer, fewer photons pass through the lens to hit the mirror/sensor. Why don't you see darkening when you look into the viewfinder and zoom in with a zoom lens, and ...
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25 votes
8 answers
2k views

Why do cameras use a single exposure rather than integrating across many very quick reads?

I have never understood why cameras need a shutter with a specific speed and why this cannot be adjusted in postprocessing. I think that present sensor works in an integral way: they save the amount ...
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25 votes
6 answers
16k views

Are there general rules for selecting the correct shutter speed and ISO in manual mode?

I have purchased my first DSLR (a Canon 500D) and have been playing around quite a lot within the aperture priority mode, with auto shutter speed and ISO. Anyways as I would like to become a better ...
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  • 359
25 votes
4 answers
1k 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 ...
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24 votes
9 answers
4k views

How can I take pictures of far-away mountains to the South?

I'm trying to take some pictures of a pair of mountains to my south. The distance is about 20 miles away. I'm running into the following problems, and I'm wondering what you guys might suggest to get ...
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24 votes
2 answers
14k 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 ...
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24 votes
4 answers
9k views

How do you use a gray card?

There are already two questions on how to make a gray card, but unfortunately my ignorance goes deeper than that. How do you use a gray card?
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23 votes
6 answers
810 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 ...
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22 votes
3 answers
35k views

How to capture detail of craters on the moon? [duplicate]

How can I photograph the moon so that I see detail of the craters and mountains? I have a Canon EOS 550D (T2i) and tried "No Flash", "P" as well as creative auto mode, but to no avail. Every time I ...
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  • 415
22 votes
5 answers
3k 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.
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21 votes
5 answers
13k views

How do you make a shot look like it was taken at night?

Okay, so I was watching a movie recently, and there was a night scene. The whole valley could be seen in light, and there were some stars as well, and the actors could be seen, but it just looked like ...
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21 votes
5 answers
3k views

What is mirror lockup and what is its primary function?

My SLR is equipped with the mirror lockup function. What does it do, and when would I employ such a feature?
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21 votes
4 answers
7k 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 ...
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20 votes
8 answers
52k views

Why can't I get a decent white background with product photography?

I'm a new photographer, and I'm trying to take photos of a product with a pure white background (#ffffff). I'm using a light box (something like this one), so my lighting should be solid. But I can'...
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  • 318
20 votes
5 answers
5k views

Does longer exposure increase saturation?

I have read that longer exposure times lead to increase/improved saturation and that landscape photogs use ND filters to allow for longer exposures to get better saturation. Is this true and does ...
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  • 5,018
20 votes
4 answers
22k views

How do I "focus and recompose" using spot metering?

I usually use the "[auto]focus and recompose" method for taking candid photographs. In situations where there is a high degree of contrast, I would like to use spot metering to correct expose for ...
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19 votes
8 answers
6k 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 ...
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  • 140k
19 votes
4 answers
2k views

Why do digital cameras need an exposure time at all?

From what I understand of digital cameras, they are basically a lens plus a tiny two-dimensional array of millions of photo-diodes. And from what I understand of photo-diodes, they create a voltage ...
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19 votes
8 answers
20k 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? ...
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  • 743
19 votes
3 answers
2k views

Why does a 15-second exposure on my camera actually last 16 seconds?

I was doing a test and wanted the shutter to stay open for 15 seconds -- no problem, I have a 15-second exposure setting in my camera. It seemed to stay open for about an extra second, though, so I ...
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