Understanding Exposure - Photography Basics for Dummies

Fed up of point and shoot photography, I decided to take a 30 day Photography Challenge this month(July). In this post, I will sum up the basic basics.

Photography challenge
Photography challenge

Reasons you need Photography:

  • For memories
  • Blogging - tired of using generic stock images?
  • Trying to sell something? Product photography.
  • For a side hustle - be it by selling stock images or by shooting for your friend's event. Even if you don't get paid, you can at least save money for your family's candid shoot.
  • For fun, as a hobby, to tell a story, to express yourself, for yourself.
  • To capture those insanely awesome visuals even those fleeting ones - star trails, roaring waves, sunset, complicated patterns on a butterfly's wings - the options are infinite.
  • And may be, some day, capture and contribute a new dank meme to this world, may be.

Understanding Exposure by Brian Peterson:

Being a book worm, obviously the first thing I did to learn basics of photography was to read a book on it. I loved the way everything is explained using simple examples. The basic principles in this post are from the book.

Exposure is what we just call the recorded image - but essentially it's the "amount and act of light falling on photosensitive material(sensor)".

A correct exposure is just a combination of three important factors - aperture, shutter speed and ISO, famously called as the photographic triangle.

Now a simple(and the best) example to describe these is using a - tap/faucet. When we turn on the tap, it's nozzle determines how much water is going to come out of it. The water comes out for the amount of time between you turn it on and off. If there are tiny ants with buckets collecting water from the tap, then you can collect more water if there are more ants. Doesn't make sense?

The water is the light.  
Aperture like nozzle controls the amount of light.  
Shutter speed controls the amount of time the light is collected.(Light enters for the time the shutter is open).
ISO is like those ants - more ISO lets more collection of light. ISO is the sensitivity of sensor to light.

You can achieve the perfect exposure using different combos of these three. For example, a small aperture(less light) with a slow shutter speed(more time) and a large aperture(more light) with fast shutter speed(less time) may both give the correct exposure. Just like more ants collecting more water even for less time will give us more water, similarly more ISO will let you click away using a faster shutter speed. Cameras with high ISO perform better in low light.

Aperture is measured in terms of f-stops. Higher f-numbers indicate smaller apertures and lower f-numbers indicate larger apertures.
Shutter speed is measured in seconds - 1/500, 3 etc.
ISO is measured using...ISO standard. Higher the number, more the sensitivity. But it also means more noise(grain).

Camera manual:

The next best book I read was the manual. Read the manual. It really has everything. Know your camera. There's a lot more to it than point and shoot in Auto mode.

That's pretty much it. There are other things like focus, white balance etc. But photographic triangle is the crucial part.
Next part would be setting the camera to manual mode and experimenting on different things using different techniques which are mostly different combos of the photographic triangle.

One thing I felt is that photography is an expensive hobby, all that gear - lens, filters, lens hoods, extension tubes, stabilizers, tripods, lights, more batteries/memory cards, bulb, remote, drones, rain cover and other infinite things. But you don't need them all. Start with basic and add more accessories as you improve. This helps for budget too - instead of buying all at once, you can buy as you need if you really keep indulging in this hobby.

I am going to post my 30 day practicals/learning every week(probably on Sundays). I own a Nikon DSLR - Nikon D5200 + 18-55 mm lens and 55-200 mm lens.
(July's gonna be photography month).

Feedback is most welcome. Please note that I am just learning, so the photos will be of potato quality. For the image posted in this post, I took some 25 shots - all bad and then gone through them for some(lot of) time like the guy looking at Bingo Mad Angles in every possible(like literally 3) angle.



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