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Take pictures with good exposure. All about it

In photography we do everything to take pictures with good exposure, exposure is the amount of light per unit area (the plane of the image times the exposure time), which reached a photographic film or image sensor, and a good exposure can be determined by the shutter speed, lens aperture, scene lighting, and sensor or film light sensitivity.

Everything to take pictures with good exposure

Exposure is measured in lux/seconds, and can be computed from the exposure value (EV) and the lighting of the scene.

In photographic jargon, an exposure usually refers to a single shutter cycle.

For example, a long exposure refers to a single shutter cycle, prolonged enough to capture low-intensity light.

While multiple exposure involves a series of relatively brief shutter cycles.

There are more than one type or techniques to arrive at different results of exposure, we have photos with good exposure, overexposed photos and also underexposed ones.

None of this is considered wrong, as long as it does not disturb your image, or that such an exhibition is used with artistic concept.

In some cases, such as in digital photography, some things are a little better than others when talking about technical sensor concepts for example.

An overexposed photo will always be overexposed and almost never look like a good exposure because the amount of information, light, that was sent to the sensor has already broken its limit and will no longer be suppressed, even in the process of post image production.

How to take pictures with good exposure

Correct exposure, or good exposure, can be defined as an exhibition that achieves the intended effect of the artist.

A more technical approach recognizes that a photographic film or sensor, in the case of digital photography, has a physical limitation. This limitation we call the Dynamic range.

When shooting, whether on film or digital, exposure must be within dynamic range capability to be accurately recorded.

In a very simple model, for example, values that fall outside the Dymanic range are recorded as black, or underexposed and white, or overexposed, leaving aside nuances and colors that would serve to give details to the photos.

Therefore to take photos with good exposure the goal is to adjust the exposure with manipulation on the machine or lighting to control the physical amount of light in which enters your camera and what is allowed by the range of your film or sensor, so that areas significant shadow and highlight details do not exceed your useful range.

This ensures that no ‘meaningful’ information is lost during capture.

It is worth noting that the photographer can carefully use overexposure or underexposure in the photograph to eliminate “insignificant” or “undesirable” details.

As an example we have a white white altar cloth that may look impeccably clean when overexposed, or the photographer can emulate the heavy shadows of noir films using underexposure.

How to take good photos. Never miss again


A photograph can be described as overexposed when you have a loss of detail and highlights, that is, when the bright, or clear parts of the photo, are too clear or totally banking.

From a technical point of view we have problems with the image below, but it is worth mentioning that using overexposure with artistic concept is totally valid.

How to take good photos. Never miss again


A photograph can also be described as underexposed, this happens when you have loss of shadow details, when important areas in the dark parts of the photo are left without details or so dark that they are indistinguishable from black.

How to take good photos. Never miss again

How to get a good exposure

Here there are several parallel subjects because taking photos with good exposure can be easy and at the same time difficult, because you rely heavily on lighting knowledge, your machine settings and exposure compensation systems.

Digital cameras have the automatic exposure setting, abbreviation AE, in this node the camera is who calculates and adjusts the exposure settings to correspond as close as possible to a good exposure or a balanced exposure.

How to take good photos. Never miss again
How to take good photos. Never miss again

In addition to the automatic mode we have the priority modes, where we choose what aspect we want to control and the rest of the calculations and settings are in charge of the camera.

Aperture priority mode, this mode gives you control over the aperture of the lens diaphragm, or aperture, while the machine calculates and adjusts the shutter speed and sensitivity, or ISO.

This mode has different names or abbreviations depending on the camera manufacturer, while in Nikon the abbreviation is made by the letter P in canon is made by the letters AV.

How to take good photos. Never miss again
How to take good photos. Never miss again

Priority the shutter, in this mode you have control over the shutter speed of the camera, and the rest as the aperture of the diaphragm and ISO is done automatically.

In each case, the actual exposure level is still determined by the camera exposure meter. As set above this mode represented in Nikon by the letter S and canon by the letters Tv.

Manual exposure

In manual mode, the photographer adjusts everything. the aperture of the lens, and the shutter speed, and even the ISO to get a good exposure.

Many photographers choose to control the aperture and shutter independently, because opening the aperture increases exposure, but also decreases the depth of field, a slower shutter also increases exposure, but also increases the possibility of blurs, which can be used as an artistic tool in some cases.

Like the photo below it uses a slow shutter adjustment and set of lights to create this light painting effect on the photo.

How to take good photos. Never miss again

There is another control that can also help you a lot when you get a good exposure when you are a photographer in manual mode, is the ISO.

An appropriate exposure for a photograph is determined by the sensitivity of the medium used, film or in the case of digital camera sensors a simulation of this sensitivity.

For photographic films, sensitivity is referred to as film speed and is measured on a scale published by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO).

Faster film, i.e. with a higher ISO-rated film, requires less exposure to leave a good image.

Digital cameras often have variable ISO settings that provide additional flexibility.

A good exposure depends on these 3 items aperture, shutter speed. and sensitivity of the film, or ISO.

But there is one thing that people always forget is the amount of light available, there is no point in you having the camera with the greatest flexibility of settings if you do not have light.

Exposure measurement

Those who have been shooting for some time are already accustomed to read the information that the camera has to define whether it is with a good or bad exposure.

And the easiest system, and why not effective, is the camera’s own exposure meter that tells you if the image will be underexposed, overexposed or well exposed.

How to take good photos. Never miss again

Notice the highlighted area of the photo above, when your indicator walks to the positive side this indicates that your image will be overexposed.

When he walks in the opposite direction, the meter is telling you that his image will be darker, or underexposed.

The intention is to use the settings available in the camera so that the meter stays at 0, so potentially you will take pictures with good exposure.

The exhibition triangle

As you may have already noticed are basically 3 elements that control exposure, aperture, speed and ISO, and so we call the triangle and we need the 3 to take pictures with good exposure.

Shooting in manual mode you will always have to be aware of these 3 items, and any changes you make to one of them may influence the other 2.

Imagine that you are photographing a cyclist in a low light and flash-free environment, you will likely tend to manipulate the ISO of your machine, so that it has more sensitivity to light, and manages to capture the rider at that moment and freeze it.

Okay, it works more notice that the higher you go with the ISO the more noise it’s putting into your image.

Ai you decide to manipulate the shutter speed, you will tend to slow it down, not to increase the ISO so much, this will make you not be able to capture the image of the cyclist clearly, because with the slow shutter the risk of you moving and generating blurs is very Great.

Oh, you think, since I can’t move here or there, I’m going to mess with the opening. And again you have a potential failure in your hands, if you mess with the opening. One of the first things you’ll notice is that you manipulated the depth of field, and maybe you haven’t gotten a good exposure yet.

Soon corrections to all values are required depending on the scenario you are in.

How to take good photos. Never miss again

Above you see the relationship between shutter speeds and the captured image, the bonequihno represents how possibly your image will look.

Already in the next image you see the same type of correlation, only this time with the aperture of the lens.

How to take good photos. Never miss again
How to take good photos. Never miss again

In the previous photo we have the ratio of this only to the noise level, the higher the ISO the more noise in the photo.

Using this 3 items in balance you will in fact take pictures with good exposure. Mastering them will make your photos look much better and more beautiful.


The aperture is one of the three pillars of photography, the other two being the ISO and shutter speed.

And without a doubt it is the most talked about subject and perhaps one of the most important, because the opening adds dimension to photography, and has the ability to isolate the object of interest or magically make everything stay in focus.

How to take good photos. Never miss again

Simply put, the aperture is a hole inside the lens, through which light travels until it finds the sensor of your camera. It’s easier to understand the concept if you think of our eyes.  

Every camera we know today is designed like human eyes. The cornea in our eyes is like the front element of a lens – it gathers all the external light, then the light is diverted and passed to the iris.

Depending on the amount of light, the iris can increase or decrease, or control the size of the pupil, which is a hole that allows light to pass further into the eye. The pupil is essentially what we refer to as opening in photography.

The amount of light entering the retina (which acts as the camera sensor) is limited to the size of the pupil – the larger the pupil, the more light enters the retina.

Thus, the easiest way to remember opening is by associating it with your pupil. Large pupil size is equal to large opening, while small pupil size is equal to small opening.

With different openings you are covers in addition to allowing input and more or less light you can also control the depth of field or DOF.

Shutter speed

Shutter speed is where the other side of magic happens – it’s responsible for creating dramatic effects by any freezing or blurring motion action.

Simply put, a camera shutter is a curtain in front of the camera sensor that remains closed until the camera fires.

When the camera fires, the shutter opens and fully exposes the camera sensor to light passing through the lens aperture.

After the sensor is collected the light, the shutter closes immediately, preventing the sensor from being hit by more light.

The button that triggers the camera is also called “shutter” or “shutter button” because it triggers the shutter to open and close.

Shutter speed, also known as “exposure time”, represents the length of time that the camera shutter remains open to expose light to the camera sensor.

If the shutter speed is fast, it can help freeze the action completely.

How to take good photos. Never miss again

If the shutter speed is slow, you can create an effect called “motion blur”, where moving objects appeared blurry along the direction of motion.

How to take good photos. Never miss again

The auxiliary use of lighting, more precisely flash, will help a lot in freezing objects.

Using the desired shutter speed in conjunction with the desired aperture, or why not say necessary, you will already be able to take pictures with good exposure.  But of course your triangle is not yet complete.


It will always be challenging for any photographer to take good photos without the slightest knowledge of what ISO does.

In very basic terms, ISO is the level of sensitivity of the available light camera. The lower the ISO number, the less sensitive the sensor is to light, while a higher ISO number increases the sensitivity of your camera or sensor.

The component inside your camera that can change sensitivity is called an “image sensor”, or simply “sensor”.

It is the most important part of a camera and is responsible for collecting light and turning it into an image.

With increased sensitivity, the camera sensor can capture images in low-light environments without using a flash. But greater sensitivity always adds noise, or grains, to the image.

How to take good photos. Never miss again

More for that use the ISO since it can bring noise to the image? Well this is quite simple, without always you have the amount of light you would like to have to take certain photo, so the sensor of your machine needs to be more sensitive to light exist in that environment or moment.

As we’ve seen before change one of the values, aperture, ISO, or shutter speed, it can lead to adjustment needs on one of the other two so you can take photos with good exposure.

A good example of this is when you’re struggling with shutter speed x the amount of light you have available.

Imagine a scene where the shutter speed needs to be 1 second with ISO 100 for the scene to be well exposed, and you would like to freeze the movement.

Simply by switching to ISO 800, you can capture the same scene in 1/8 of a second or 125 milliseconds! This can mean a world of difference in photography as it can help freeze movement and take photos with good exposure.

Using this triangle correctly and understand how light works hardly you will not take pictures with good exposure.

The best tip I can give to anyone who takes good photos and put themselves behind the camera set up in manual mode and in situation with different amounts of light and always use calm during the adjustments of your camera, this when you will surely build a relationship of intimacy with your equipment and with the passing of clicks you will notice that things have begun to improve.

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Written by Rix Mascarenhas

Rix Mascarenhas is a photographer, videographer, and drone pilot at

Art lover, always involved with crafts, design, painting etc... As a photographer, I enjoy taking pictures and creating stories that have meaning and help people to thrive. My work is guided by the stories behind each scene that really represent the moment.

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