Digital Photography Tips – Using Your Camera’s Built-in Exposure Controls

One thing that both newcomers to digital photography and even more experienced photographers find most challenging is getting the correct exposure for their digital photos. One of the great things about digital photography is that we can use PhotoShop and other photo editing software to make corrections after the digital photo has already been taken, but it’s certainly better to get the exposure right to begin with.Most people take their digital camera out of the box, make sure the exposure setting is on automatic and never change it. However, using all the settings on your camera is not really that complicated. It just takes a little information and some practice. Here are some tips for taking more control over your digital photos.First, decide what you want to emphasize in your photo. That’s the object or area of the photo where you want the exposure most correct. Are you taking a digital photo of a child against a dark background? Do you want to be sure the child’s face or clothing is correctly exposed, or do you want to emphasize what’s in the background?Second, choose whether you want the camera to decide on the exposure, or whether you want to make some or all of the decisions about exposure yourself. Most modern digital cameras give you a choice of exposure modes, including so-called programs. For example, there might be a stylized symbol of a mountain for landscape photographs or a profile of a runner for action photos.If you select one of these modes, the camera can then use one of its internal programs to make decisions about shutter speed and camera lens aperture. The camera will select the settings the manufacturer has decided is best, on average, for these kinds of photos. The problem is, you may not be in an average situation for your landscape or action photo. If so, it’s time to get into a more lands-on mode, and take more control over how your digital photos will look.In addition to auto exposure, nearly all digital cameras come with settings for aperture priority, shutter priority and manual modes. The aperture setting determines how large the opening is in the lens that lets the light through. The shutter speed is how long the lens stays open. The larger the aperture, the more light comes through, so if the aperture increases (more light), the shutter speed must also decrease (open a shorter period of time) to make a correct exposure. If you select the aperture priority mode and set the aperture you want, the camera will select the correct shutter speed. If you select the shutter priority mode and set the shutter speed you want, the camera will select the aperture to compensate.Manual mode gives you total creative control. How to use manual mode is covered in another article in this series. Just remember the best part of digital photography is, if the photo didn’t come out like you wanted, you can always try again.