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First and foremost, good exposure is about capturing an image that has the right level of brightness. As you have seen, you can control how much light hits the image sensor by changing your camera's shutter speed and aperture. As more light hits the sensor, your image gets brighter. But how do you know how much light is enough? After all, there are lots of shutter speed aperture combinations to choose from, and there are a lot of different lighting conditions in the world. Fortunately, to ease the whole exposure problem, your camera has a light meter which can measure the light in your scene.
Unless you are in manual mode, every time you have press the shutter button, the camera measures the amount of light in the scene and then calculates a shutter speed and aperture combination that will yield good exposure. Once it's calculated these values, it displays them in the camera viewfinder as pair of numbers. Shutter speed is usually on the left, aperture is usually on the right. Now, try this with your camera. Put it in program mode and go to a room that has a window on one side. Point the camera out the window and half-press the shutter button.
Note the shutter speed and aperture values that are displayed after the camera meters. Now, point the camera in the opposite direction, towards the wall opposite the window. Half-press the shutter button again and note the numbers that are displayed this time. They should be different, and this should make sense to you. When you are pointed out the window in the daylight, the camera needs one set of exposure values to get a good image. When you point back into the room, where it's darker, it needs another set. As you saw earlier, this is just how your eye behaves when light changes.
Even if it's night out, this should still work, as the view outside the window is probably darker then what's in your house. So as you can see, the exposure numbers that are calculated are a direct result of type of lighting your scene. There is a shutter speed and aperture value, and together they control how bright or dark your final image is. Now, I have been teasing you with the ideas that these controls give you more then just overall brightness control, and now we are finally ready to talk about how.
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