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Chapter 3. Mastering Camera Controls > Understanding Exposure

Understanding Exposure

Correct exposure is not the most important aspect of taking a picture. How well you frame or compose the image really makes or breaks a photograph. The exposure can be a little off and the picture can still look good, but if the composition is awry, there’s not a lot you can do to save it. Fortunately, compositions are not chosen by the camera. In most cases, however, exposure settings are. You can do a great deal to ensure that your exposure settings mirror what you want to get out of your image.

As you recall from Chapter 2, exposure is defined as the amount of light striking the sensor. Think of each photosite or pixel on the sensor as a little bucket that catches photons of light as they pass through the lens. The photons must fill the bucket to a particular point (called a threshold) before that pixel will register its part of the image. Raising or lowering the threshold mark on the bucket decreases or increases the working sensitivity of the sensor. It doesn’t make any difference whether the photons fill the bucket slowly or quickly, or whether they arrive in large streams or in a trickle. A pixel won’t register an image until the threshold point is reached.


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