Exposure… What is it?

Exposure Chart

A Histogram is a visual way of showing the level of exposure that is in an image. The further right you travel on the histogram, the brighter your image is. It works the same for darkness except it would be further left. A photograph is correctly exposed if it seems like it is peaking more in the middle of the image and does not seem like it is flowing tho the right or the left. You want it more centered.

An example of bad white balance… very orange.

White Balance: the process of adding the opposite color to an image to balance out the color temperature and make it more neutral. Link to article.

Histogram: a graphical representation of the tonal values of a photograph. Shadows or dark tones are displayed on the left side, mid-tones or greys are in the middle, and highlights or brightness is to the right. Link to article.

An example of Bracketing. One higher, just right, and under exposure.

Bracketing: taking multiple images of the same subject, just with different exposure settings. Normally, you would take three images: one a little over your exposure setting, one right on your setting, and one a little under. Link to article.

Exposure Compensation: this is a setting on your camera that allows you to override exposure settings predetermined by the camera. Link to article.

An under exposed example.

Underexposure: an image that is very dark and lacking in bright details. The histogram would be leaning very far left. Link to article.

A correct expose example

Correctly Exposed: an image that is not too bright or dark, in fact it is just right. There are no details lost in shadows or highlight. The histogram seems to hang more in the mid-tones. Link to article.

An over exposed example.

Overexposure: an image that is very bright and the details are washed out from the light. The histogram would be leaning very far to the right. Link to article.

Exposure Compensation is a built in method on the camera that allows you to automatically adjust a photos level of exposure before the photo is even taken. Using this automatically moves the histogram a little bit in one direction. It is almost as if the camera is anticipating a darker or brighter image. The shape of the histogram shows you the levels of exposure that are in the image. If the histogram is too far to the right, it means that the image has a lot of highlights and it is really bright.If the image is too far to the left, it has a lot of shadows in it, making the image dark.

While I was guessing the histograms of my images, I was decently surprised at how close I was getting to the actual histogram. For the most part, it is kind of easy to tell if the image is exposed too much to the left or right but it is hard to tell for the middle ground images if it leans farther one way or another. I seemed to look for more bright/dark spots and make a judgment call from there. It was hard to tell if an image was correctly exposed since some images looked really good to me but their histogram seemed to lean more to one side.

Joshua is an amateur Photographer, with his main focus on Graphic Design and Music.