Filmmaking 101: Camera Exposure

Filmmaking 101: Camera Exposure

Welcome to Brading images. We are a Photography and Videography studio in Manchester, Salford, Irlam. We primarily do music videos and family photoshoots in the studio. We particularly enjoying doing: Newborn photoshoots, one year old photoshoots, toddler photoshoots, kids photoshoots, fairy photoshoots, mother daughter photoshoots, maternity photoshoots and siblings photoshoots, here, in manchester!

Outside the studio, we run a film club called The Stage and Screen Academy, where we teach filmmaking 101.

Camera exposure is how bright, or dark, your image is and is one of the most important things to understand in order to get a good shot. Good exposure is where the scene looks natural and all the details are visible.

Over-exposure is where the image is too bright and brighter parts of the image may turn to pure white. Under-exposure is where the image is too dark, and darker parts of the image may turn to pure black.

Unlike many other parts of filmmaking, camera exposure is almost purely a technical aspect and is rarely used for creative effect. Over, or under, exposure is almost always considered a mistake – so it’s important to get exposure right.

Exposure is controlled by three settings in the camera – Aperture, Shutter Speed and ISO. These are sometimes known as the exposure triangle – because you have to balance the three settings together to get good exposure.

Aperture is how much light is being let through the camera lens. It is controlled by an aperture which opens or closes to increase, or reduce, the amount of light. When the aperture is open, or “wide” lots of light is let through. However, having the aperture open also reduces the depth of field of your shot – that is the amount of shot that is sharp. This means that whilst your main character may be sharp, the background behind them may be completely blurry – although sometimes is may be the look you are after

Shutter speed is how long the light is allowed to be recorded by the camera’s sensor. It’s called shutter speed because on some cameras it is controlled by a mechanical shutter which opens and closes – much like opening and closing a pair of curtains to let light into your room. The smaller amount of time the shutter is open for, the less light that is let onto the sensor and the darker it will be. Longer shutter speeds will let more light in, but can also produce more motion blur if the subject moves in your scene.

ISO is how sensitive your camera’s sensor is to light. A low ISO means it will take a lot more light for the sensor to react, whereas a high ISO means your camera will be able to see even without much light hitting the sensor. However, a higher ISO also increases the amount of noise in your image.

So let’s recap the three main ways to control your camera’s exposure are Aperture, Shutter Speed and ISO. An image which is too bright is called over-exposed, and an image which is too dark is called under-exposed.

Leave a Reply