Exposure – Preview 2

The previous Exposure post, Preview 1, contained –

  1. Thoughts on exposure as it relates to creativity
  2. Two videos thoroughly covering the basics of exposure

The purpose of this 2nd preview post is to test your understanding of exposure. If you can’t answer the questions at the end of this post, you need to improve your understanding. Preview 1 provides everything you need to know.

Click on a thumbnail for a larger version – especially to view the histogram included with each image. These are from-the-camera images except for the “wanted” version which was “fixed” in post-processing by “setting black & white points”.
These are photographs I made of two poster boards – one white & one black – placed side by side. The top two show them together. The bottom two were made by filling the frame entirely with the black (on left) and the white (on right). Despite that to your eye three of the four (unaltered) don’t look anything like black or white, the camera did exactly as it is designed to do. I included the image labeled “B&W we wanted” to illustrate the stark difference between what the camera sees (and produces if left to its own devices) and what our eyes see (& want/expect?). This is just one example of differences between what we see and what the camera sees. I’ll mention more during the course.


  1. Why are the bottom two images basically the same tone (middle gray) when the left subject is actually black and the right is white?
  2. What would you do with your camera settings to make the bottom two accurate (black and white) instead of middle gray?
  3. What could you do with the top left image?
  4. Do you see why failing to understand what’s happening here could compromise your images – say one with lots of snow, for example? Gray snow?

0 thoughts on “Exposure – Preview 2”

  1. There are still more surprises to come – things that your camera does that you’d never have guessed. Knowing what to expect under certain circumstances is vital to getting the image that you want. The camera obeys the laws of physics and can’t read your mind with regard to what you really want.

  2. Ed, I couldn’t believe the difference so I tried the exercise myself. It turned out exactly as you said above. I found that by using exposure bracketing I could come close to the back vs. white. I found it best when I used +/- 1.0. i.e. large steps rather than +/- 0.3, a smaller increment.
    I’ve had my medical procedures (afib is gone), so now I hope to finish playing catch up and be able to be more on top of things.

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