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Exposure strategy

From: Foundations of Photography: Exposure

Video: Exposure strategy

This is a Moreton Bay Fig tree, and as you can see, this particular specimen is spectacular. It's got a really beautiful big root system underneath. It's got big, thick, gnarly branches. And as a photographer, as you are walking up to it, you are not probably thinking, "Wow, look at that beautiful tree." You have done that already. That's why you are walking up to it in the first place. After you've identified it as a subject, and you are walking up to begin shooting, what you should be thinking is, "What potential exposure problems are am I going to have here?" And it should be kind of obvious what they are, right off the bat, the biggest one is going to be backlighting.

Exposure strategy

This is a Moreton Bay Fig tree, and as you can see, this particular specimen is spectacular. It's got a really beautiful big root system underneath. It's got big, thick, gnarly branches. And as a photographer, as you are walking up to it, you are not probably thinking, "Wow, look at that beautiful tree." You have done that already. That's why you are walking up to it in the first place. After you've identified it as a subject, and you are walking up to begin shooting, what you should be thinking is, "What potential exposure problems are am I going to have here?" And it should be kind of obvious what they are, right off the bat, the biggest one is going to be backlighting.

I have got all this sky back here that's going to potentially mess up my shot. If I am going to be shooting underneath the tree, I've got the problem of standing in shade with all that bright stuff out behind. What I need is an exposure strategy before I even press the shutter button the first time. We have been looking at a lot of theory in this course, a lot of exposure theory. We have been studying a lot of individual parameters and seeing how they work together. We have been doing a lot of that study in the studio in a somewhat controlled, laboratory-type situation. That stuff, all of that theory, that doesn't in stay in the studio.

It's got to come with you when you go out shooting. And the way that it should kind of manifest at first is anytime that you come into a new situation, you need to quickly identify what might cause you an exposure problem and build a strategy before you begin shooting anything. So let's think about this one. Again, backlighting is going to be my problem. We've looked at lots of different ways of controlling backlighting. What might be the best one in this situation? Well that's going to depend on what I am shooting. We have looked at shutter speed, ISO, aperture, exposure compensation, concepts of over- and underexposing.

We've looked at program shift. It is the very, very, very rare situation that requires you to manipulate all of these parameters at once. Usually there is just one parameter that you are going to need to be looking at. In this case, let's say that we are shooting a portrait underneath the tree, so I know that I am going to want shallow depth of field. So I'm going to be most concerned with aperture. But if I am underneath that tree, I know also that it's going to be very bright in the background, so I'm probably going to want to overexpose a little bit. So I'm going to be thinking about aperture and some overexposure, and that's probably it. If it turns out that my overexposure drives my shutter speed down, then I'm going to need to think about ISO.

I need to have all that in my head before I go in there. Obviously, once I start shooting, that may change. It's always true with your exposure strategy. It's a fluctuating thing, as situations change, as your understanding of the situation changes. Let's say I am shooting some people running around the tree or running around underneath the tree. That's going to be about shutter speed. So I'm going to dial in to shutter priority mode and be ready to try and think about stopping and blurring motion. Again, ISO may come into play to keep my shutter speed where I want it. This is what happens anytime I enter a new shooting situation.

I think about where the potential exposure weak spots are, and I begin to develop a strategy. When you are first starting out, that strategic planning section maybe something that you actually have to stop and stand here for a minute and think it through. Okay, big aperture, shallow depth of field. You may have to work through all of that stuff. As you get better, you may not even be aware that you are strategizing. You will simply go into a situation and find yourself turning to a particular mode, preparing a particular type of over- or underexposure. It gets easier as you go along. The important thing is it's a step that has to happen.

Throw your camera into program mode. You can shoot snapshots all day long and get pretty good results. There is a good chance in that mode though that you're going to come home with people that are too dark because they are in shadow or things that are blurry because you didn't have a good shutter speed. If you're really dead-set on getting keeper images, then you've got to strategize. If you're still not clear on any of the individual exposure parameters we've covered, or any of the concepts we have covered, go watch those sections again, go out and practice some more. What you are after now is putting all of those things together into a cohesive strategy, and learning how to adapt and adjust that strategy every time you come into a new shooting situation.

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Foundations of Photography: Exposure

64 video lessons · 84685 viewers

Ben Long
Author

 
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  1. 8m 44s
    1. Welcome
      1m 56s
    2. What is exposure?
      4m 8s
    3. A word about camera brands
      2m 40s
  2. 9m 32s
    1. What is a camera?
      2m 53s
    2. The shutter
      3m 53s
    3. The aperture
      1m 33s
    4. Exposure defined
      1m 13s
  3. 13m 50s
    1. Modes
      2m 7s
    2. Pressing the shutter button
      2m 54s
    3. Autofocus
      5m 22s
    4. Light metering
      2m 3s
    5. White balance
      1m 24s
  4. 29m 26s
    1. Shooting sharp images
      1m 58s
    2. Noting shutter speed
      4m 3s
    3. Taking control of shutter speed
      1m 30s
    4. Stop defined
      2m 50s
    5. Shutter priority mode
      4m 34s
    6. Exercise: Shutter speed
      40s
    7. Reciprocity
      3m 13s
    8. Controlling motion
      7m 8s
    9. Shutter speed increments
      2m 21s
    10. Exercise: Go work with shutter speed
      1m 9s
  5. 26m 3s
    1. Depth of field
      1m 53s
    2. How aperture is measured
      2m 42s
    3. Aperture priority mode
      4m 57s
    4. Lens speed
      53s
    5. Shooting deep depth of field
      3m 53s
    6. Shooting shallow depth of field
      2m 50s
    7. The depth-of-field preview button
      4m 24s
    8. How shallow should you be?
      2m 47s
    9. Exercise: Go work with aperture
      1m 44s
  6. 16m 26s
    1. ISO: The third exposure parameter
      6m 27s
    2. Assessing your camera's high ISO
      5m 32s
    3. Shooting in low light
      3m 32s
    4. Exercise: Shooting in low light
      55s
  7. 14m 30s
    1. White balance controls
      5m 37s
    2. Adjusting white balance manually
      4m 25s
    3. Shooting raw
      4m 28s
  8. 6m 3s
    1. How light meters work
      1m 47s
    2. Why are there different modes?
      4m 16s
  9. 33m 59s
    1. Exposure compensation
      4m 0s
    2. Intentional overexposure
      2m 40s
    3. Intentional underexposure
      1m 42s
    4. Controlling tone
      2m 31s
    5. The histogram
      10m 4s
    6. Real-world histograms
      5m 49s
    7. Tone and color
      2m 16s
    8. Auto exposure bracketing
      3m 58s
    9. Exercise: Go work with exposure compensation
      59s
  10. 12m 56s
    1. Dynamic range
      2m 24s
    2. Exposing for highlights
      4m 15s
    3. Fill flash
      3m 11s
    4. Three solutions to the same problem
      3m 6s
  11. 12m 26s
    1. Manual mode
      2m 6s
    2. Manual mode and light meters
      4m 52s
    3. Manual exposure exercise
      5m 28s
  12. 12m 1s
    1. Custom modes and A-DEP
      1m 39s
    2. Program shift
      3m 52s
    3. Exposure compensation with program shift
      1m 58s
    4. An exercise in reciprocity
      53s
    5. Scene modes and in-camera processing
      3m 39s
  13. 8m 16s
    1. Shooting with post production in mind
      3m 46s
    2. Exposure strategy
      3m 51s
    3. Goodbye
      39s

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