Many photography manuals and tutors completely ignore this fundamental aspect of photography because, they say “you don’t need to understand it” or perhaps “today’s cameras make it unnecessary” or perhaps “it’s a bit too technical for most people, so not worth bothering with.”
I have just one word to say to that, and I won’t use it here! If you want to progress in photography and achieve the results you desire, then you have to understand what is going on when light enters the camera and how the camera deals with the light.
The only way you can understand this properly is to take some time to focus, use your mind, think and make sense of this important principle of photography.
Actually, it is not difficult, rather it’s confusing, because there are confusing and often counter-intuitive sets of numbers. Many people are put off by numbers and other aspects of maths. I had a problem with maths when I was a child, but through my interest in photography, I appreciate it’s not so difficult and it is very relevant to day to day life and especially to photography.
I’ve been teaching photography on a regular basis since around 2009, when I was asked to do an evening class in photography. I needed a diagram or chart to help me explain the basic principles of photography and I came up with the photography crib card which I have used countless times. I give people free copies of the card in in my photo walks and one-to-one photography sessions.
I use it as part of my one-hour lesson in photography and people find it very useful.
I don’t have enough time in this blog post to explain the card in detail. For that you would need to attend a photo walk or course. However I will set out some bullet points about why it’s important to understand Aperture, Shutter Speed and ISO.
- The camera gives you information on the back of the screen. You need to understand this information, just as you need to understand your car’s speedometer and rev counter.
- Photographic exposure is a fundamental principle of photography. Every person who takes photographs should try to understand it better.
- The principle of exposure is not difficult, it’s just confusing. By going through my chart step by step, it’s possible for people to gain a much better understanding in a short space of time.
- Learning Aperture, Shutter Speed and ISO is similar to learning to spell in your native language, or learning the times tables in Maths. Yes, we have apps and calculators, but better to try and get it right in your head.
- It requires some mental effort and a bit of self-discipline to learn this basic principle but it’s worth it. The insight you will gain will give you a sense of satisfaction. Even if it wasn’t helpful to photography, it’s a worthwhile thing to do.
- The fact is that many professional photographer and people tutoring in photography have a poor understanding of exposure don’t realise how important it is. That’s the only reason I can think of, why it is omitted in photography manuals and courses.
- As well as learning an interesting and essential principle of photography, you will also learn my unique approach to using the camera in Manual Mode. I use this approach whenever I am working in unusual lighting conditions. It’s easy to learn and of immediate practical use.
- Even experienced photographers find the crib card, my explanation of Aperture, Shutter Speed and ISO as well as my unique approach to using the camera in Manual Mode to be very useful as it approaches a familiar subject from a different angle.
My Exposure Crib Card is an item from my Mediathek – (pronounced ‘media – teck’, like discotheque) that’s the word I use to refer my Media Library, which contains a growing collection of material on the subjects I teach, including photography.
I am developing an online course on understanding Aperture, Shutter Speed and ISO and I hope to have it ready soon.
You can support what I’m doing and gain access to exclusive materials from my media library by sponsoring me on Patreon. It’s possible to receive a printed copy of the Exposure crib card in the mail, with a personalised welcome message from me. Go to http://www.patreon.com/aidanorourke to find out more.