By SnapSquad - April 14, 2018

Amateur photographers often feel intimidated with terminology referring to the technical use of their cameras. The obvious solution nowadays is to simply rely on the fully automated functions of your digital camera. However, it may come a time when you may like to push yourself a bit further and be more in control of what your camera can do for you. This article is for you, helping you, in simple terms, understand exposure modes and light metering so that you may take control of your exposure and shoot pictures at the desired brightness. When photographing at a more professional level, it is important to shoot in RAW- that way you can manipulate the photo more when editing. By shooting in JPEG, your highlights and shadows are set and you cannot change as much afterward. After all, photography is the art of capturing light and to do that, setting the right exposure for every situation is the key to making a precious beautiful picture or… well, ruining it. 


The amount of light to reach the sensor in your camera.

What controls the exposure? A combination of 2 functions:

  1. The shutter speed or length of time the shutter remains open.
  2. The lens aperture or the size of the opening through which the light goes.
In manual mode, you get to set the shutter speed and the aperture, which allows you to determine what the sensor captures. Additionally, your ISO setting will allow you change the sensitivity of your camera light sensor and modify the exposure.

EXPOSURE: Highlights, Mid-tones & Shadows

Highlights are the lightest areas on a picture. 
Mid-tones are the middle tones on a picture, the ones in-between, like grey would be the mid-tone colour between black and white.
Shadows are the darkest area on a picture.

Too many highlights? The picture is over-exposed
Too many shadows? The picture is under-exposed 
Lots of shadows and highlights with few mid-tones? The picture is highly contrasted and you will not want that unless, perhaps, you are out to create some dramatic effect?


You obtain a correctly exposed picture when the right amount of light has reached the image sensor of your camera. To catch the correct amount of light the image sensor needs to capture the mid-tones.

SETTING THE MID-TONES - Adjusting the exposure

It simply works like this:
  • To reveal details in brighter areas (highlights), you will need to underexpose. To do this you need to set the mid-tones darker than mid-grey.
  • To reveal details in the shadows and obtain a brighter image, you will need to set your mid-tones to be lighter than mid-grey (overexpose).

Hope we got you started!

Author: Annie R. Teo

  • Share:

You Might Also Like