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“Understanding Exposure” by Bryan Peterson, is by far one of the most popular books to learn photography (4 editions and more than 350,000 copies sold).
With this book you will learn:
- Which aperture gives you the greatest contrast and sharpness, and when to use it.
- Which apertures guarantee the background remains an out-of-focus tone.
- Which one aperture—when combined with the right lens—creates an area of sharpness from three feet to infinity.
- How to creatively use shutter speed to either freeze an action or imply motion.
- Where to take a meter reading when shooting a sunset, snow, or a city at dusk.
The camera obscura is the image forming device, while the photographic film or the electronic sensor are in charge of capturing it. The storage of the captured images depends on the type of camera, being stored in the same film if they are classic machines, or in some memory device in the digital ones. In the latter case, the resulting image is stored electronically as digital information, which can be displayed on a screen or reproduced on paper or film.
To take a shot, the photographer previously configures the camera and lens in order to adjust the quality of the light image to be projected onto the photosensitive material. When the shutter is released, this material is finally exposed, causing chemical or physical alterations that constitute a “latent image”, not yet visible but present in its internal structure. After a suitable process, this information becomes a usable image. In classic cameras, the sensitive material is a film or photographic plate; while digital cameras use light-sensitive electronic devices, which may be based on CCD or CMOS technology.
In all cameras, except some specialized ones, the process of obtaining a correct exposure takes place through the adjustment of a series of controls with which it is treated that the photograph is clear, sharp and well illuminated. The usual controls that are included are the following:
The setting that puts the sharpest point of the image where you want it. In modern cameras, there will be autofocus points on which the camera’s autofocus system will try to focus.
The aperture setting of the lens, measurable by the f-number, which controls the amount of light passing through the lens. The aperture has an effect on two elements: depth of field and diffraction: the higher the f-number, the smaller the aperture, the less light entering through the lens, the greater the depth of field and also the greater the diffraction blurring effect. The focal length divided by the number f is what gives the effective diameter of the aperture.
The setting of the period during which the captor or film is exposed to light at each shot. Fast shutter speeds, or short exposure times, decrease both the amount of light and the possibility of crepidation, due to the pulse, when using the camera without a tripod.
In digital equipment, the electronic compensation of the color temperature associated with certain lighting conditions, ensuring that white light is recorded as such in the image captor and, therefore, the colors in the image will appear natural. In reel cameras, this function is exercised by choosing certain types of photographic film or with colour correcting filters. In addition to using white balance to record the natural color of the image, photographers can use it for aesthetic purposes, for example, to obtain warmer color temperatures.
Calculation of the exposure, so that both highlights and shadows are exposed according to the photographer’s intentions. Before there was automatic exposure in the cameras, this was calculated by using a light metering device called an exposure meter or by the knowledge and experience of the photographer when taking measurements. To convert a certain amount of light into a certain usable exposure and aperture time, the meter needs to adjust the ASA sensitivity of the film or ISO of the captor to the light.
Photographic sensitivity scale ASA/DIN/ISO
Traditionally it has been used to indicate to the camera the ASA/DIN speed of the film used in film cameras. Nowadays ISO speeds are used in modern cameras to indicate the light gain of the system in numerical format and to control the automatic exposure system. The higher the ISO number, the greater the sensitivity of the film or sensor to light, whereas with a lower ISO number, the film is less sensitive to light. With the correct combination of ISO speed, aperture, and shutter speed, an image that is neither too dark nor too bright, and therefore ‘correctly exposed’, is achieved.
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