Arriving at the Photo


Ketan Kundargi lists five things you need to consider while setting the exposure for the image you have in mind.

When there are plenty of colours in the frame, pay special attention to the exposure as it will decide how each colour is eventually rendered in the final image. Exposure: 1/250sec at f/16 (ISO 200) Photorgaph/John Byer

Making a stunning photograph is all about planning right. Irrespective of whether you shoot in the Manual mode or in the Program mode, you need to think about certain settings before you dial in the aperture or set the shutterspeed. If you believe in simply making a picture and moving on, stop right there! Here are five things that you need to think about before you release the shutter.

Think Before You Shoot
Before you make a photo, you need to previsualise the moment you wish to capture, before the action actually takes place. Once you have figured out what you want to photograph, think about what you want it to look like an work on its aesthetic appeal. Basically, every time you lift the camera, stop. Think. Rethink. Shoot.

Multiple Colour Tones or a Simple B&W?

We live and see the world around us in various hues. However, how many tones you capture depends on the saturation value you set in your camera. Do you want varied tones of a single colour or do you want to mute them, and make a B&W photograph instead?

If you are in a tricky lighting situation, use exposure bracketing in order to retrieve shadow or highlight detail, if required. Exposure: 1/60sec at f/2.8 (ISO 200) Photograph/Ned Horton

The Contrast Consideration

Harsh light can help you make high-contrast images which are graphical and impactful. On the other hand, the range of tones offered by soft, diffused light can help you create magical low contrast images. The Contrast setting within the camera can enhance the lighting conditions further, and be used wisely to create a certain mood.

Even if you are shooting in plain daylight, using the Cloudy WB will help you make your images more warm. Exposure: 1/320sec at f/5.6 (ISO 400) Photograph/Samten Kabo

Playing with White Balance

Every light source has a certain colour cast that affects all the hues in the scene. White Balance presets simply help you achieve the correct shade of white in every lighting situation. But you can also use these presets creatively for a cool or warm tone for your images.

Once you tweak camera settings with these five factors in mind, even the Program mode can help you get great images.

When faced with backlighting, if you want the subject to be well exposed, then simply overexpose! Exposure: Not Available Photograph/Richard Sweet

Do You Need to Adjust Exposure?

Need the image to be brighter? Overexpose! Want to avoid highlights getting blown out? Underexpose. Do not always go by the camera’s default reading. Experiment by varying exposure by a stop or two next time.

Go through these steps each time you shoot. Gradually, they will become ingrained and will help you make good pictures instinctively.

To be Safe

If you are still unsure about getting the exposure right, play it safe. Shoot in the RAW mode and use Auto Exposure Bracketing to be able retain details later.

This article originally appeared in the April 2013 issue of Better Photography.