Good Exposure for Landscape Photography

posted on 3rd of june, 2013

The traditional triad of ISO, aperture and shutter speed is the determinant of exposure. Appropriate selection of these three parameters will ensure the optimum exposure to record a scene as desired. Selecting exposure settings that allow less light to be recorded by the sensor creates darker, or underexposed images and selecting settings that allow more light to be recorded creates lighter, or overexposed images. The exposure controls are all conveniently related. The traditional values denoting step-changes in ISO, aperture, and shutter speed can all be considered using the concept of stops; f -stops when describing aperture, or just stops when describing changes in the other two variables or combinations of the three. Changing the aperture by one f-stop in either direction or doubling or halving the shutter speed or ISO all result in changing the exposure settings by one stop, doubling or halving the amount of light to be recorded.

Perfect exposure for any given scene can be achieved by using many different combinations of this triad that balance with each other to ensure that a given amount of light (governed by the size of the aperture within the lens), is allowed to fall on the sensor for a specified amount of time (governed by the shutter speed), creating a pre-determined electronic response (governed by the ISO sensitivity setting). For the digital SLR user in the quest for the perfectly rendered landscape image, the ideal values for two of the three variables are actually quite limited: increasing the ISO comes at the cost of increasing noise; using too wide an aperture, like f/2.8 results in less depth of field, and using too narrow an aperture, like f/22, causes a loss in quality due to diffraction. The ideal ISO for overall quality is the native ISO of the camera, usually 100 or 200 depending on the manufacturer, and the ideal aperture is usually somewhere between f/8 and f/16. My favourite technique is to use aperture priority mode and Matrix metering, so that the camera makes a reasonably intelligent guess in selecting the ideal shutter speed to create a ‘perfect’ exposure when I use my favored default values of ISO 100 and an aperture of f/16. Most images can be made using such settings provided we use a tripod to eliminate camera shake.

Comments (7)

Posted by FabioConcetta on June 05, 2013
Thanks for sharing!
Posted by Haotian on June 05, 2013
Thanks for this article. A great summary.
Posted by Suyerry on June 04, 2013
Was very useful for me. Thanks for sharing! :)
Posted by Egomezta on June 04, 2013
thanks, very useful. Great blog.
Posted by Laurasinelle on June 04, 2013
Thanks for sharing!
Posted by Rosariomanzo on June 04, 2013
Useful, thanks for sharing.
Posted by Fallostupido on June 04, 2013
thanks and nice pics

Comments (7)

This article has been read 827 times. 3 readers have found this article useful.
Photo credits: Abhishek Singh.

About me

Abhishek Singh is a freelance Aviation and Travel Photographer; however his duties normally exceed that of just taking brilliant story telling photos, and mentoring in photography workshops. Abhishek, a trained pilot from New Zealand, started his career as a Cabin Crew in a leading private airline of India and gradually his passion for aviation got wings when he took aviation photography as a profession. Abhishek worked as a Sr. Aviation and Military Photojournalist for many aviation and defence publication houses in New Zealand, USA and India. As a photojournalist he had the opportunity t... [Read more]

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