In nature and landscape photography, camera exposure is a critical component which determines what is and is not actually recorded on the camera’s image sensor. Camera exposure determines how light or dark the image will appear once that shutter button is pressed. While this may seem simple in concept, the topic is similar to an onion with many layers to uncover. The big layers of this onion include concepts such as the exposure triangle, camera shooting modes, and histograms. The initial learning curve on these items can be rather intimidating. However, our articles and tutorials give you practical, step-by-step guides to master your camera’s exposure to create inspiring nature photography.
Understanding the exposure triangle is a great jumping off point. For the exposure triangle, there are three sides. The camera’s aperture, shutter speed, and ISO setting each represent a side of the triangle. All three sides work in unison to create the final image. In the camera’s automatic shooting mode, the camera will determine the aperture, shutter speed, and ISO settings to capture a properly exposed photo. Afterwards, he or she can move from automatic to other camera shooting modes, such as Aperture Priority, Shutter Priority, or even Manual as creativity and the situation demand. This allows the photographer to control one or all parts of the exposure triangle.
Moreover, landscape photographers understand the critical importance of using the camera’s histogram for capturing a properly exposed photograph. The histogram is a statistical graph which represents all of the tones in the image. Reviewing our beginner guides to histograms is a perfect place to gain insight into why and how you should be using histograms in photography.
As the layers unravel, landscape photographers use additional camera settings and techniques to capture creative and inspiring images. A camera’s exposure allows the photographer to convey emotion and tell the story. While the camera may be able to determine the proper exposure, it cannot see and interpret the scene. It doesn’t know if you want to freeze motion or showcase motion. The camera doesn’t understand if you are shooting bright, white snowscape or a darker image such as the milky way. This is where you as the photographer must step it to help the camera understand the scene to produce the desired effect for the image. For more detailed explanations on camera exposure, histograms, as well as advanced techniques like hyperfocal distance, be sure to check out the online tutorials on Exposure and Focus.