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Exposure Q&A

Lesson 5 from: The Beginner Photographer’s Crash Course

Khara Plicanic

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Lesson Info

5. Exposure Q&A

Lesson Info

Exposure Q&A

Backtracking to ISO. Usually, when I pick up the camera, it's on auto, and you showed there it's kind of lower than low, I guess. Is that not a happy medium? You mean, putting ... The camera being your shooting mode is on auto, and then, right. So when you're on auto, the camera is gonna be controlling all of these three things. It's gonna be choosing the ISO for you, and the shutter speed, and the aperture. But it is possible, it depends on your camera, but it is possible to be in a different shooting mode, but leave the ISO set to auto. Or it's possible, probably not in auto mode, but in some of the other modes, that you could select your ISO, and then let the camera drive everything else. That is a question for your manual. To make sure to see what your camera, how your camera wants to handle it, 'cause they're all gonna be a little bit different. ISO is kinda tricky. Personally, I like to always know what everything is. I don't have my ISO set to auto. My camera is never set to a...

uto either, but we'll talk about that in the next segment. Check your manual for the specifics. Yes? It seems like, if I change one, I kinda have to change the other one, if I wanna keep the same image, have to balance it out somehow? Is that correct? Yes, exactly. As I mentioned, these three things form this triangle, and it's all about balance. As I said, it's not like there's always a correct answer, but to help people understand that, let's go back to the math example, where I said two plus two is always four. Yes. But, three plus one is also four. Four plus zero is four. Five minus one is still four. Right? There's a lot of different ways that you can combine numbers and arrive at four. The same is true with photography and exposure. If we call a good exposure just one that is not too light or not too dark, right? It's all about balancing the light, and getting the right amount of light that's gonna be not too dark or not too bright. It's kind of like Goldilocks, right? We're playing Goldilocks here. These three things, I like to think of them as, if we have this triangle, I like to think of them as a top leaning down like this. They can tip and rotate, like if you were standing on a ... What are those things called? There's like a fitness thing, I don't know what they're called. Some kind of balancing ball, disk thing. They're kinda like that. There's these three points. If these things were triangular shaped, I might have had to bring one in as a prop, 'cause it would've just been so perfect. It's balancing like this. If you're in a situation where, and we'll look at this again later, but, if you're in a situation where you're trying to take a picture, and it's just coming out dark. It could be a number of things. It could be that there's not enough light in that situation, for your current combination of settings. It could be that ... It could be that we need to adjust one of these settings. It could be that your meter is not reading the scene accurately, and we'll talk about that later too. Let's just say it's none of that. So you're taking a picture, it's coming out dark, what's going on? We need to somehow add more light into the camera. We could do that by slowing down the shutter. Or, opening the aperture. Or, boosting the ISO. Or, any combination of those three things. It will depend, ultimately, on what your goal is for that photo. If you want that photo to have time frozen, and it's a fast subject, then slowing your shutter is not really an option, because that would change the effect. Then, we'd have to add that light in in a different way. Then, we'd be looking at our aperture. Let's say we open the aperture, but it can only open so far. Maybe we open it as far as it can go, now we're runnin' out of room, and let's say we take another photo, and it's still not bright enough, then we'd have to boost ISO. Let's say then that we find a combination of these three things, and it yields a perfect photo. Then we decide, oh, let's shoot the same scene, but with a little bit different, like the picture where, we can go back, it's not too far I don't think. With the ... Right here. This photo. As I mentioned, this was shot at F16. That's why we have so much range of focus. This was shot at F1.2, I think. But, I didn't just change the aperture. When I changed my camera settings from the aperture of F to F1.2, I had to change some other settings, or what would've happened? Anyone wanna take a venture to guess? Jose knows, he knows. Since you're opening up, you're adding more light, it probably would've been blown out then. Yes. So blown out is a term that we use when the image is so bright, that bright parts of the image, like this white table, just disappear, they get like a blizzard, just covered, they get blown out by snow. Just covering them out, they disappear. Yes. So if I had not rebalanced the equation, this photo here would just be very overexposed, way too bright. When I changed from F16, I went to F1.2, I opened it up, brought in a lot more light, I then had to boost it, and I left the ISO alone, but I took the shutter speed and cranked it up way high, to cut down on the length of time that that light was coming in. So it has the same effect of reducing the overall exposure. So you're either brightening the image or darkening the image using these three (giggles), these three things. All right. Did that answer your question? So it's always rebalance. If you change only one setting, the photo will get brighter or darker, and maybe that's what you need to do, brighter or darker, but if you're trying to maintain the same brightness level, and you change one thing, then you're gonna be out of balance, and the brightness will change, unless you rebalance it out. Okay, how is depth of field related to compression? Gaily Cowert wants to know. That is a great question, Gaily. They both effect your image. Compression comes from the focal length of your lens. We will see this in the last segment, when we talk about lenses on Friday. The longer the focal length of your lens, the more compressed the scene is. I have a fantastic pair of images that demonstrate that. But it's the same scene and it's shot, in both scenes, it's shot at F2.8, and one is captured with a 35 millimeter lens, and the other is captured with a 200 millimeter lens, and the difference, and they're adjusted, for those of you who are familiar already, the longer the focal length of the lens, the more telephoto it is, and we'll talk about all of that. I adjusted my positioning so that the image is framed the same way. In other words, I didn't take both shots from the same position. So I put on a wide lens, and I got really close, to give me the same composition as I would get with the telephoto lens. Then I had to back up with the telephoto lens, so they looked the same. The photos were composed the same, but the one that was captured with the 200 millimeter lens at F2.8 had an incredibly blurred background, and compressed this way. The picture I'm thinking of is of my son, Zay, and it's a profile shot, and he's sitting at the zoo, we were playing at the zoo. We go to the zoo to see the animals, and all he cares to do is play in the rocks. There's a rock garden there and he loves it. So he's there. Behind him is some big rocks. In the photo with the long lens, the scene is compressed, so the rocks look closer to him, and more blurred, than they do in the same scene, captured with the wider lens, the rocks look really far away. That's what we mean, Gaily, when we talk about compression, is the look of compressing the scene from front to back. Objects in the background appear closer, kinda like your rear view mirror, that says, "Objects may appear closer than they are." May be closer than they appear. What does it say? I don't remember what the mirrors say, but you know what I mean. They may appear closer or farther, depending on the focal length. That's talking about compression, and it can impact aperture, or excuse me, the depth of field as well. If you want to get the absolute blurriest background you could possibly ever achieve, you would want three things. You would want the widest aperture you could get. The smallest number, like F1.2 or F1 even, if you can get that. You'd want that. You would want to use the longest focal length that you had access to. The most telephoto lens that you could get your hands on. You'd also want to position your camera as close to your subject as possible. Those three things together would combine to make a really blurred background. Aperture is the main thing that would play a role there. I think we have another question. Thank you for that, Gaily. All right. Can you explain the logic of how camera logic picks ISO in Auto ISO mode? Well I can sure try. I'm not a camera, but let's go for it. I didn't program them, but here's my take on that. The camera, whenever you're in auto anything, the camera is kind of lazy, and it just wants the easiest route that it can find to getting results. It's not gonna try to work hard if it doesn't have to. When the camera is choosing its settings, first of all, how does it do that? It does that by doing what's called metering. Metering is just a fancy word for measuring. It's measuring light. It can measure in different ways, as we'll see later. We'll look at metering and what does it mean, and how does it do it. It's measuring light, and it's basically gonna say, it's really bright in here, so I don't need a lot of ISO. Or it's really dark in here, I need more ISO. But I think that the way that they are programmed, to me, they seem that ISO doesn't come up unless it exhausts all the other options. Which actually makes sense, because that's how ISO generally works. If you're approaching a scene, and you're shooting in manual mode, you don't generally walk in and be like, I'm just gonna set my ISO at 8,000 or 3200, whatever, because I like it. If you're in a scene with enough light, you don't want your ISO way up high. You basically want your ISO as low as you can get away with. When we're talking about that triangle of those three things, when we're shooting in manual mode, which is how we're just talking through this right now, we are choosing our shutter speed and our apertures based on our creative choices that we want for our photo. Do we want a blurred background? Do we want a blurred motion, or a frozen motion? We negotiate that, and then, if we have too much light, or not enough light, that's when you reach for ISO and say, okay, gimme some more, or shave some off the top. It's kind of a last, it's the last piece that you worry about. I think that's how the camera does it too in auto mode, it'll just reach for that last. As I said, a lot of them put a governor on there. Your camera may be capable of 6400 ISO or something, but it might not go there unless you give it permission, because of the noise that comes with it. Like I said, it is getting a lot better these days. I hope that answers the question. It's basically it tries to keep it as low as it can, unless it really needs to get up there. Good question. The ISO part can be a little bit tricky. I like to think of ISO as the enabler, because it enables the rest of the triangle to function. It allows you to, hopefully, get that shutter speed that you need, for the effect that you want. Or it allows you to open your aperture so wide, because you can turn down the ISO. What type of lens did you use to photograph your landscape image? Also, at what aperture? My landscape image. I'm guessing that they're talking about the picture with the boats, I'm gonna guess. I don't remember. That lens, I'm trying to think. That was my first DSLR, a long time ago. I don't remember, but I think it was just a kit lens. That means the lens that comes with the camera. Often, you buy a camera body in a little kit that comes with a lens, it's kind of just a general, generic, multi-purpose lens. It doesn't have a lot of extreme options, when it comes to aperture. I think that was shot at F4 only, which is actually pretty wide, but it was probably not shot at, and it was a zoom lens, so I don't know what the focal length was, unless I look in the metadata. It was fairly wide, that F4, looked and behaved a little bit more squinty. F4 is pretty wide, generally, but if you're shooting at a wider angle, it's gonna behave a little bit more like it's squinty, because the focal length. Remember that those three things, aperture, focal length and distance to subject, is gonna effect how blurred it is. You can shoot at F4, but if you're shooting with a fisheye lens, you're not gonna have a blurred background, even at F4. I have a wide lens that I can shoot at 16 millimeters wide, and I can shoot at F2.8 at that thing, and I'm not gonna get a blurred background, 'cause it's just so wide. It really all comes together in different ways, which is tricky. When you're new to photography, you're like, man, I just can't nail this stuff down. We want a recipe, and I know that people want that. They wanna say, okay, if I'm in this environment, what do I set my camera on, so I'll just get perfect photos? If it was that easy, photography wouldn't be really a career choice, because no one would need a professional, it would be so simple. It takes practice, and it takes trial and error, and you really, you have to dig in. It's a lot like cooking. You have to figure it out, roll up your sleeves, get in there and get a little bit dirty, and that's okay. That's why it's an art. All right. We have another couple questions. With today's cameras, isn't auto ISO a perfectly fine option if someone is shooting in raw? Ooh. Okay. Well. My answer to that is the only thing auto that I ever like, is auto white balance (laughs). If you're shooting JPEG. That's a great question. Why wouldn't that be great? If you're shooting raw, which we'll talk about. For those of you that don't know, raw is another type of file format. Most people, if you've never shot raw, and you're like, what does that mean? That means you're shooting JPEGS, okay? That's the default, most of the time, I think. JPEGs are great, but sometimes, some people want to shoot raw. We'll talk about why and what that entails later, but it is a different file format, and it allows you more latitude for adjusting your images after the fact. The reason it does that, is it captures more data, and it doesn't get processed out the way a JPEG does. We'll talk about that later, but, the reason why I don't like auto ISO at all, is because you don't know what it's doing. If you are really trying to take control of your exposures, you can't walk into a scene and be like, I need this shutter speed or this aperture, and be like, whatever the camera wants to do with ISO. Because then the camera might just be like, whoa, I need to jack my ISO up, and that can ruin your exposure, because you don't know what the camera's doing. If you've ever shot in auto mode on your camera, you know that sometimes the camera is a really bad decision maker. Bad, right? It makes poor choices. If that's a once in a lifetime shot, you don't wanna leave that up to the camera, to hopefully get it right. Auto mode, in and of itself, is not the enemy, that's not bad by itself. What's bad is, you can't rely on it. If you recall earlier, one of our goals out of this, is we're gonna learn to get more consistent results. Consistency is the problem with auto mode. Of course, in auto mode, sometimes you can get great photos, and then you're like, my camera's awesome! Auto mode, look at that, I have the best camera ever. I'm sure your camera's fine, but you just, that was just a good situation, and the camera made a good guess, and you liked it, so it's all good. But that's not consistent. If you wanna be able to know that you're getting good results, then auto ISO might not be the place to be, because you don't know what's happening. But it depends. It depends on your shooting mode. Because if you're in manual mode, that would clearly not be good. Because then you've set your other two options, and the camera's goin' crazy doin' whatever it wants with ISO. If you're shooting in shutter priority mode, and we're gonna talk about all the modes next, but if you're shooting in shutter priority mode, then the camera's gonna be choosing ISO for you anyway. So don't worry about it. Right? That's the whole point of shutter priority mode, is that you control the shutter, and you don't worry about anything else. It really depends on your shooting mode. Personally, I am a bit of a control, you could call me a control freak, I own it, it's okay. When I'm shooting for when I'm working, or shooting portraits of my son, or whatever, I'm shooting in manual mode, 'cause I want all the control. Obviously, I don't have my camera with me all the time, I shoot a lot of him on my phone, which, of course, is just auto. In that case, I'm not controlling the ISO. It can be okay, it's just that when you really want control, then it might not be the best choice. Okay, we had another question. When using the camera on my phone, how apropos, the only setting of the three you've mentioned is the ISO. Is there any advice for adjusting settings on phones? Great question. Well, there are some apps that let you dig in a little bit more to control your phone. My favorite, I personally, I use the built in camera app on my phone, 'cause it's just more accessible. A lot of times, when I'm taking a picture with my phone, it's because I have to be a quick draw. Get that out quickly. My DSLR, of course, is big and clunky, and usually not in my pocket. Never in my pocket. Or, as a woman, when I rarely have pockets, then I can have my phone. I wanna be able to pull it out, and get to the camera quickly, so I use the built-in camera app, because you can swipe up, or whatever phone you have, you know. You can get to it quickly. The way that I like to operate it is, when I'm framing the scene, I touch and hold on whatever portion of the frame that I want to base the exposure on. We'll talk about this more on Wednesday, when we talk about camera functions. This is controlling the metering that's happening a little bit on the phone. If you're pointing the camera, or your phone, at a scene, it may end up darker, than what you even see with your eyes, and you're like, oh man, this phone is bad. You get all mad, but it's just that the camera doesn't know what are you trying to take a picture of. If you're outside, especially, are you trying to take a picture of your puppy, that might be playing in the shade of your deck? Or are you trying to take a picture of the kids splashing around in the little pool, that's out in the sun, behind the puppy? Those are two very different exposure situations. You have the kid in the bright sun, and the puppies in the shade. How's the camera supposed to know? It can't read your mind. You have to be able to communicate with it. On your phone, the way that you do that, is by touching the part of the screen that you want to base the exposure on. So you're telling the phone, the camera, calculate the brightness based on this. So I press and hold, and then it locks in, it'll change the exposure, and it'll also lock focus on whatever it is that I've touched. To change the exposure, you can also drag, at least on Apple, the little sun appears, and your little icon, you can drag it up to brighten it, and then it'll hold that exposure. When you're doing that, you're just telling the phone, hey, I know you think this was a good exposure, but I want it brighter. You're dragging up, and the camera's changing the ISO, or slowing, it's changing all these settings to achieve more light. So that's one way to do it on the phone. They're all a little bit different, so I'm not as familiar with Android, but that's how I operate, and I just love that native app.

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Khara is awesome! She really breaks down how the camera works, photography terminology, and technique. She does it all with a fun and entertaining personality and really makes it easy to understand what you are learning! I love this course!!! So worth it!

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