Mastering exposure for creativity & precision
EVERY TIME you press the shutter on your camera, light hits the sensor and creates a picture. That might seem obvious, but in order to produce an image that’s neither too dark nor too light, there is always an interplay between the three sides of the exposure triangle, as aperture, shutter speed and ISO are balanced to create the best possible exposure for a given scene.
But while the basics of exposure may be a simple balancing act, taking full control of the way in which your camera exposes each shot is key to not only producing a coastal landscapes full of vibrant tones, but also having the ability to add an amazing amount of drama to an otherwise static scene.
As we touched on in the previous section, the majority of coastal landscape images are going to be taken at medium to small apertures in order to maximise depth-offield. It might seem sensible then to set your camera up for aperture-priority, dial in the smallest lens opening and let the camera take care of the shutter speed.
Modern cameras boast some amazing tech and the onboard light meters and various exposure modes can analyse a scene and come up with a decent exposure in most cases. But when there’s a wide range of tones in a scene – which is often the case in coastal photography – the built-in computer may not always give you the best results. As the point of the exercise is to produce the best shot that you possibly can, while learning more about the way your camera works, it’s time to set that dial to manual and take full control of the settings.
So what are the advantages of going manual with your exposures? For a start, it’s vital to understand that RAW files contain an awful lot of information that may not be readily seen when you’re just reviewing your images on the camera’s rear screen. But the really important thing to remember is where they retain this info. A RAW file will hang on to much more data in the shadow areas where postediting can bring back detail that isn’t always noticeable when reviewing. By contrast, once a highlight has blown out – or has clipped – the detail is lost and can never then be recovered.
Using full manual control and reviewing the histogram of each shot to ensure a smooth dynamic curve will pay dividends when you load your images up to edit them, as you will be able to
TAKING FULL CONTROL OF THE WAY IN WHICH YOUR CAMERA EXPOSES IS VITAL