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.

Settings:
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!

A Seriously Super-Girl

You ever get the chance to meet someone who just does something so freakin’ amazing that you kind of forget how amazing it is until you’re reflecting back at it all – and then it hits you…”wow, that person is just really that awesome..”? Yeah, that happened to me this weekend, and I’m just so glad that I was able to gift her with some portraits that she can use to further her work of…well, awesomeness.

This weekend…I…hung out…with…SUPERGIRL!!!!!

Supergirl had people honking, parking their cars to taking photos, and two young men – Elders of the church – stopped to ask her a few questions. She created so many smiles Saturday morning just by being present. It was definitely encouraging when we live in a world that sometimes feels so heavy.

Okay, so she has a real name, and it is Kendra. And Kendra really is that awesome. (I know I have overused awesome at this point – but I really haven’t because she REALLY IS AWESOME!) Kendra, and a troop of other superheroes dubbed Heroes 4 Hope based out of Alter Ego Comics in Lima, Ohio, regularly get together to bring joy and happiness to people all over the area.

They are seriously the best people ever. I’ve had the opportunity to hang with them and take pictures at a few events, and the glee (had to make that reference – get it, Lima?) they bring to others is so inspiring. This organization is growing, and it’s awesome to watch it blossom into a serious force.