Photography 101- Understanding Exposure

Understanding Exposure

No doubt you have heard that one of the most important things about taking a good photograph is getting the proper exposure, and that to get that exposure there are three settings on the camera that need to be considered. These three settings are: Shutter speed, Aperture and ISO. Many people trust the camera to select these settings to get a properly exposed image, but are often disappointed with the results. Here is a description of what I mean by each of these terms:

  • Exposure- The amount of light that the film or digital sensor receives during a shot.
  • Shutter Speed- How much time the film or sensor receives light.
  • Aperture- The opening within the lens that determines how much light passes through the lens to the sensor. The smaller the aperture (or opening), the larger the  f stop number will be.
  • ISO- How sensitive the film or sensor is to the light it receives.
  • And most importantly, Properly Exposed- the amount of light the film or sensor receives during the shot to achieve the results that you the photographer want to get.

The three settings (shutter speed, aperture and ISO) and their relationship to each other is sometimes called the Exposure triangle.

Exposure Traingle

I have struggled to find the right analogy to express the relationship between these three settings so that I could explain it to my wife and others. For people like me who are comfortable with mathematical equations, it is like this:


with A = Aperture, I = ISO, S = Shutter Speed and E = Exposure. I you adjust one part, like increasing your shutter speed, then you have to adjust either ISO, aperture or both to still get the proper exposure.

This isn’t a particularly good way of explaining exposure, especially to a young person that may struggle with math, so I have come up with this explanation:

A person wants to get a good overall suntan. To do this will depend on three things: how sensitive the person’s skin is to the sun, how long they are out in the sun and what strength sunscreen they use. The person’s skin sensitivity is like the ISO. The higher the ISO, the more sensitive the film or sensor will be to light. How long the person lays in the sun is the equivalent to the shutter speed. Finally the strength of the sunscreen is like the aperture. The higher the SPF of the sunscreen, the less UV light reaches the skin, and the smaller the aperture (higher f stop number), the less light reaches the film or sensor through the lens.

Remember, it is you that will decide what the ‘proper’ exposure for your images are. Understanding these settings will help give you creative control over your images to express what you envision.

Here is the same shot with 3 different exposures. Which is correct? It all depends on what you want 

August 22, 2014-007-2  August 22, 2014-007  August 22, 2014-007-3


Text and Images © Ted Griffith 2014

All Rights Reserved

Photography 101 – The Eyes Have It

They say that the eyes are the windows to the soul. When taking photos of people, pets, birds, or almost any living creature, the main point of focus should be on the eyes. When the eyes are in focus, it creates a more compelling photograph for your viewer. In a close-up shot, this becomes more critical. Depending on how your camera focuses (you might not be able to select different focus points in the camera), you may need to focus first on the eyes and then recompose the shot before finishing the capture, especially if the depth of field is very shallow.

Western Collard Lizard

Western Collard Lizard


All text and images © Ted Griffith 2014

All Rights Reserved

The Camera- Which One?

The Camera- Which One?

Ok, you’ve decided that you want to be a photographer, so now you need to make a decision on what is the best camera for you to buy. In my opinion, the best camera is one that you will actually use.

Some start out thinking that they need the latest and greatest in cameras, and then spend so much time trying to figure them out that they either give up or really don’t enjoy taking photographs because the whole process becomes too complicated.

Many people start out with the camera in their cell phones. Those can be a great starting place to learn the basics, but if the bug bites you will soon want to upgrade to something that allows a little (or a lot) more creativity and control. When learning to ride a bicycle, children usually start with a tricycle, then a bike with training wheels, and then the training wheels are removed. Next may come a bicycle with gears and eventually some even go into racing or other forms of competition. Start out with as much as you can enjoy, leaving some room for challenges, and work up from there.

All Images and Text © Ted Griffith 2014
All Rights Reserved

Photography 101 – Photography is an art, and everybody is a critic

Photography is an art, and everybody is a critic.

To me, what is called photography is much more than the capturing of images either on film or digitally. Photography is an expression of the vision of the photographer and the interaction with his/her audience, and as such qualifies as art.

Now, since we (or at least I) have decided that photography is an art, everyone is going to have an opinion. There will be what I call ‘purists’ that believe that any type of manipulation of an image disqualifies it from being photography. Then there are two types of ‘purist’, film and digital. If you manipulate an image, when does it stop being a photograph and start being something else? Does it matter?

For me, the answer is very simple. Pure photography is the mechanics and techniques of capturing an image with a camera. Everything after that is art. Just as there are painters that work in different types of mediums and different forms of expressions, photographers will as well.

So, if you are digital or film, manipulate images or not, color or monochrome, enjoy the art you make and don’t worry too much about the critics.

Colorado National Monument - August 2014

Colorado National Monument – August 2014

Images and text © Ted Griffith 2014
All Rights Reserved

Photography 101

Photography 101- An Introduction

I have been seriously involved in photography for the last 35 years, and over those years I have learned a lot, and unfortunately I have forgotten a lot as well. Some of what I learned was through books and articles, some through trial and error, and some through the mentoring of others. And over the years, I have taught and mentored others, passing along the lessons that I have learned.

Recently, I decided to get these lessons out of my head and into written form to help me remember and practice what I have learned. And since I am going to be writing these down, I have decided to share them through my blog as well. Topics will range from my philosophy about photography to equipment and shooting techniques and everything in between.

Being a person with ADD, the format for this is going to be very simple, a series of short memos and notes that are intended to remind and instruct.

If you follow along through these writings, I hope that somewhere you will find something to help or inspire you in your own photographic journey.

Painted Pinks

Painted Pinks

All images and text © Ted Griffith 2014
All Rights Reserved

Why Are You Following Me?

There was a time when having a lot of followers of my blogs was something that I sought, thinking that the people following were interested in what I was posting, but not now. I have noticed that a quite a few people are following my blogs now, and more follow almost every day. I have also noticed that the vast majority of them have only visited my blogs once, when they initially followed.

Why do people do this? Do they believe that because they follow my blog, I will follow theirs? Or is it merely a new type of junk mail with which they are able to get into my email with what amounts to an advertisement to follow them?

I don’t know about you, but one of the most precious commodities that I have anymore is time. When I follow someone’s blog, it means that I am interested in what they are doing, and that I will commit to stopping by from time to time. I don’t always comment, because I do have a difficult time communicating in written form.

So, please, if you are genuinely interested in what I blog about, by all means follow. However, if your only purpose in following is to get me to follow you, please don’t bother.

Colorado National Monument

Colorado National Monument