So..What the Heck is Exposure and How Do You Master It?

    The term “exposure triangle” always comes to mind when talking about exposure in photography, and mastering the exposure triangle really give you an edge on taking great photos that are, well, perfectly exposed. But, like, what the heck does that even mean? Basically, it means that your image is well lit, with little to no noise or grain, and very little motion blur/shake. So, let’s just go over what ISO, Shutter Speed, and Aperture are and how each one of these settings affect an image.

    ISO (sensitivity) – Affects the reactivity of the camera’s sensor. You would use low ISO settings in situations with plenty enough light – think a sunny day – where your camera’s sensor doesn’t need to be as sensitive to light because it has an over abundance of it. High ISO settings are for low light situations – this could be inside your home or at a school play. The sensor now is no longer able to get light from an outside source so you need to compensate by using a higher ISO setting.

    Shutter Speed (duration) – There is a door on your sensor – it is the shutter. This setting determines the length of time that the door in front of the sensor is open. As long as that door is open, the sensor will continue to “record” light – and the image (because the image is just light bouncing off of things and back onto the sensor). If your shutter is open for a long period of time (meaning a slow shutter speed), the brighter your picture will be. Faster shutter speeds do not give the light very much time to get in, resulting in a darker image.

    Aperture (amount of light) – A lot of people also refer to this as “fstop” – so keep that in mind when looking at other blog posts or talking to other photographers. This setting dictates the size of the opening in the lens. A wider aperture is a bigger opening, and will allow more light to come in at once – this means a small number. A smaller opening, of course, allows less light in – this means a larger number. (It is important to note that shooting wide also affects your depth of field – i.e. it gives you a really pretty blurry background, however, sometime’s it can cause you to shoot out of focus or not as sharp. But that is a lesson for another day – we are just discussing exposure here.)

    All three of these work together harmoniously to create a perfectly (or not perfectly) exposed photo. If you choose to let the ISO take the brunt of the exposure, you can raise your shutter speed to capture movement and lower your aperture. You can play around between the three until you find your perfect balance.

    I’m also going to suggest that you look at this post and video about exposure.

    Hands on stuff:
    As an administrator in a beginner’s photography group, we came up with an experiment to help teach exposure. I wanted to share that with you – it’s super interesting and I think it definitely helps manipulate manual settings in the exposure triangle.

    Experiment A – ISO
    1. Set ISO to 100. Make sure auto ISO is turned off.
    2. Set your focal length to as wide as it will go (18mm for a kit lens).
    3. Turn your camera to Manual Mode.
    4. Set Shutter Speed to 1/60
    5. Set Aperture to F4
    6. Do NOT change aperture or shutter speed. Take a picture of the same motionless scene every time.
    7. Take a picture at ISO 100.
    8. Take a picture at ISO 200, 400, 800, 1600.

    Experiment B – Shutter Speed
    1. Set ISO to 800. Make sure auto ISO is turned off.
    2. Set your focal length to as wide as it will go (18mm for a kit lens).
    3. Turn your camera to Manual Mode.
    4. Set Aperture to F4
    5. Set Shutter Speed to 1/15
    6. Do NOT change aperture or ISO. Take a picture of the same motionless scene every time.
    7. Take a picture at SS 1/15.
    8. Take a picture at SS 1/30, 1/60, 1/125, 1/250

    Experiment C – Aperture
    1. Set ISO to 800. Make sure auto ISO is turned off.
    2. Set your focal length to as wide as it will go (18mm for a kit lens).
    3. Turn your camera to Manual Mode.
    4. Set Shutter Speed to 1/60
    5. Set Aperture to F/4
    6. Do NOT change ISO or shutter speed. Take a picture of the same motionless scene every time.
    7. Take a picture at F4
    8. Take a picture at F5.6, F8, F11, F16.

    Once you’ve played around a bit, go to my Facebook Group, Katlin Shuherk Photo Community, and discuss your findings! Let me know if you still need some clarification and help. Once I mastered the exposure triangle, though, I felt like I had a good handle on my camera and started diving deep into my artistic side of photography. I will discuss more in my group my own process of choosing my manual settings and be available for my in depth questions! But I hope this post helps you all!

    01|52 Fifty-Two Week Photography Challenge – Week One

      Fifty-two photos in Fifty-two weeks – one photo a week for a year.

      This is one photo out of four and it was hard to choose which one to actually post for the challenge. That’s typically the problem, though, when you’re a photographer. It’s so hard to cull images, and it’s even harder when those images are of your own child. But I think that’s the beauty and importance of taking on challenges like this – to push us to learn how to choose one photography out of multiple and really make that decision based on a multitude of factors. For example: Am I choosing this one photo for the technical aspects? Or am I choosing this because of the emotional connection it has? Or is there another reason? Why do I want this one to tell my story for 2020?

      This photo isn’t technically perfect. My daughter’s face is dark, and her face isn’t in focus. She was laughing, threw her head down, and focus went on her hair. But the emotion is captured – and that’s what I love about it. It is a perfect portrayal of her and her spirit.

      One of the things I hear the most is “how do you get your child to actually S I T for pictures?!” – or – my favorite from clients “I apologize in advance for my children – they are wild and may not cooperate.”

      Sophie is pretty uncooperative, y’all. She was laughing at a poop joke in this photo. But often, I have to have her sing, dance, or tell her own jokes (usually involving, you guessed it, poop). My sessions are not pose and act perfect – they are capturing the subject. So many times I am chasing kiddos around Litzenberg Park (that gorgeous farm park just outside of Findlay, Ohio) and having them dance and sing – just like I have my own daughter do when we are taking photos in our own yard.

      ISO 100 | F/2.8 | 1/180

      My set up was literally a chair in my living room against the wall. I used my Canon 6d with a speedlight. I use a 550EX Speedlight – an oldie but goodie. It was positioned up and slighting pointed behind my head. My lens was the Sigma Art 35 1.4. I edited with one of my new presets – and I’m starting to name them! This one is going to be “Onyx”. My first preset bundle will be available to purchase towards the end of January. However, if you’d love to try a free preset – join the Katlin Shuherk Photo Community and you can get an exclusive download link!

      Terel Arnett-Dias Mini Session | Black Swamp Nature Preserve, Paulding, Ohio

        One of the hardest days of my life was the day in 2016 that I found out that my husband, at age 28, had colon cancer. Our world seemed to start spinning and slowing down all at once, and we didn’t know up from down. Our daughter was only 18 months old, and I was fresh out of graduate school working part time trying to build up experience. He went through surgery and removal of part of his sigmoid colon at Lima Memorial Hospital, thirteen chemotherapy treatments at St. Rita’s in Lima, and months of pain – but we were lucky. Stage IIIA colon cancer did not wreck our lives as much as it could, and I am grateful every single day.

        Fast forward to a few months ago.
        My third cousin (who at one point felt more like a brother – you know those cousins – he lived across the street from me with his mom, two brothers and sister in Grover Hill, Ohio and we’d run around town like we owned it – and when they moved, my mom and I were at their new house all the time so it didn’t even matter that they moved but then we grew apart because teenagers…) married a beautiful girl and they had a beautiful daughter. I was even able to take portraits of them this Spring when I did family photos of all of the crew back in that hometown of Grover Hill in Paulding County!

        It wasn’t long before the news broke that Devin and Terel were expecting another baby! How exciting for a young, growing family. Then we got other news:

        At only age 29, 27 weeks pregnant, with a 2 year old and husband at home, Terel has been diagnosed with Stage 4 Metastatic Breast Cancer. “

        My heart sunk. I had just seen her, and she was fine and happy and healthy. But – as I know better than I’d ever like to admit to myself, cancer doesn’t care. So I knew that I had to do something to help this family out. I remember being in that spot. “How will we pay for our…” “What if…” “I can’t go to work..” “My spouse can’t work..”

        I messaged my friend Andrea Schlueter – who is Terel’s bonus sister – and a photographer in Paulding County. I had an idea – let’s do a mini session marathon at the Black Swamp Nature Center in Paulding and give the proceeds to Terel and Devin. She was completely on board, and we were nearly fully booked within 2 days. We raised over $1200 for the family.
        To those who booked a mini: you rock.

        I wanted to write a blog post to be able to share some of these images, the GoFundMe, and the Facebook Page – where you can learn more ways to donate including t-shirts, magnets, and a poker run. But I also wanted to let anyone who may be suffering from this horrible disease – breast cancer, colon cancer, or any other type of cancer – know that I am here. I am here to talk to, cry to, scream in anger to, and I offer free family sessions to cancer warriors and survivors so that you can cherish time and memories.

        Team Terel Facebook:


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