Friday, June 13, 2008

Correct Exposure

The "correct" exposure for a photograph is determined by the sensitivity of the medium used. For photographic film, sensitivity is referred to as film speed and is measured on a scale published by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO).

Faster film requires less exposure and has a higher ISO rating. Exposure is a combination of the length of time and the level of illumination received by the photosensitive material. Exposure time is controlled in a camera by shutter speed and the illumination level by the lens aperture.

Slower shutter speeds (exposing the medium for a longer period of time) and greater lens apertures (admitting more light) produce greater exposures.

An approximately correct exposure will be obtained on a sunny day using ISO 100 film, an aperture of f/16 and a shutter speed of 1/100th of a second. This is called the sunny 16 rule: at an aperture of f/16 on a sunny day, a suitable shutter speed will be one over the film speed (or closest equivalent).

Ultimately there is no such thing as "correct exposure", as a scene can be exposed in many ways, depending on the desired effect a photographer wishes to convey.

A photograph with an exposure
time of 25 seconds

A photograph of a night-time sky with
an exposure time of 8 seconds

A two second exposure of
a fire poi ball dance

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