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Perfect Exposure

Taught by Michael Freeman

Recent developments in digital technology have transformed the ways in which exposures can be manipulated

Course Description

Choosing the exposure for a photograph is both alarmingly simple and infinitely complex. Simple because there is just one dosage of light that will be right for you, controlled by just three settings: aperture, shutter speed, and ISO sensitivity. Complex because it affects everything about the image, what you wanted it to be, and its effect on your audience. Understanding how and why exposure works as it does is worth every effort, because it is not an automatic process, whatever camera manufacturers claim. There is no universally ‘right’ exposure for any situation, but there may be one ‘right’ exposure for you personally.

Learning outcome: On this courses  you will get bi-weekly video tutorials and assignments as well as my personal help and feedback on your work. This Perfect Exposure Course will equip you with the skills and confidence to be able to handle any lighting condition, however unusual, both technically and stylistically. The course book to accompany these four weeks is my Perfect Exposure.

This is an 8 week course,  with one lesson ever 2 weeks. This is to give students plenty of time to complete their assignments and allow them to gain maximum benefit from the course. 

Course outline

  • How to Measure and Set Exposure

    Cameras offer an increasingly sophisticated range of methods for getting the exposure in some way ‘correct’, but though the result is a wonderful choice, there’s also a chaotic array of methods and jargon. My job here is to cut through this nonsense, and my model is, as always, the way professionals like myself think and work. What average brightness means Highlight clipping & warning Basic camera metering: centre circle, spot and weighted Advanced camera metering: smart and predictive Auto metering modes Aperture priority Shutter priority Program Exposure compensation Manual metering Bracketing Check the histogram After the shot Live View Handheld meter & incident readings Grey card
  • The Exposure Triangle

    There are three camera settings that each control the brightness of the image you capture—aperture, shutter speed and ISO—and this lets you choose a combination to get any particular exposure, hence the expression exposure triangle. Using it efficiently means knowing clearly what your priorities are for any shot. Apart from controlling the light, the aperture and shutter speed each do another job for the image. Aperture affects depth of field while shutter speed affects motion blur, and you may want less or more of either in any specific shooting situation. ISO raises the sensitivity when you need it, but the result is noise, which has no redeeming qualities, so this just increases the compromises you need to make when light levels are low. Balancing aperture, shutter speed and ISO Aperture = depth of field Shutter speed = freezing or blurring motion ISO = noise Using camera modes Auto ISO Know your limits Hand-holding speed Minimum shutter speeds for motion Minimum depth of field for a subject Your noise tolerance Deciding priorities
  • The Twelve Exposure Situations

    Regardless of subject, there are just 12 basic lighting situations in photography, and each one needs a particular set of techniques. Become familiar with them and you will quickly be able to assign any scene in front of you to one of these—and know what technique to apply. Dynamic Range: Scene & Sensor Group 1: The Range Fits 1 average 2 bright 3 dark Group 2: Low Contrast (range fits easily) 4 average 5 bright 6 dark Group 3: High Contrast (over range) 7 no obvious dominant tone 8 large bright subject 9 small bright subject 10 edge-lighting 11 large dark subject 12 small dark subject
  • Exposure and Style

    In the last two lessons we looked at finding the exposure that essentially best suits the situation. Now I want to move things on to the next level, which is to take all of this and temper it with judgment and creativity. In exposure, there is no wrong and there is no right. If you embrace this, you can start to experiment with different styles of imagery that go beyond the obvious and average. Like any artist, you then have to rely on your judgment. Style in exposure depends heavily on deciding what the most important tones are in the picture—and then choosing how you want them to appear. Key tones Memory tones Know what you want Light and bright High key Sombre Low key Shadow detail Silhouette Don’t obsess Decision workflow

Choose how you want to learn

  • The Expert option

    Recommended

    Develop your learning further with marked assignments and personal tuition from Michael Freeman

    • Start course whenever you like
    • 4 weeks tutor access for personalised assignment feedback & coaching
    • 4 assignments marked by Michael Freeman
    • Certificate of completion from Michael Freeman
    • Online classroom with up to 20 classmates
    • 4 lessons with expert videos & notes
    • Group chat & direct message with tutor & classmates
    • Lifetime access to videos, notes & classroom
    Learn more
    $299.00
  • The Peer option

    Discover the benefits of group learning in an online interactive classroom of no more than 20 people. Get the most from shared knowledge and community study

    • Start course whenever you like
    • Practise what you learn with your peers
    • Online classroom with up to 20 classmates
    • 4 lessons with expert videos & notes
    • 4 course assignments
    • Group chat & direct message classmates
    • Lifetime access to videos, notes & classroom
    Learn more
    $99.00

How it works

About Michael Freeman

Michael Freeman, is one of the world's most respected and prolific photography writers and teachers.

Amateur Photographer Magazine
Michael Freeman is the world's top author of photography books, drawing on a long career as a widely published international editorial photographer. He has published to date 133 books, of which 66 are on the practice of photography, with 4 million copies sold, published in 27 languages. He has an MA in Geography from Oxford University, and in a career spanning 40 years has worked for most of the world's leading publishers, including Time-Life, GEO, the Sunday Times Magazine and the Smithsonian Magazine, with which he has had a 30-year, 40-story relationship.

Much of his work has focused on Asia, beginning in the early days with Thailand, expanding outwards through other countries in Southeast Asia, including Cambodia, with several books published on Angkor and other Khmer sites. This was followed by several years photographing in Japan, and more recently, China. His most recent book of documentary reportage is Tea Horse Road, tracing the ancient trade route that began in the 7th century between southwest China and Tibet. Before that was the 2005 Sudan: Land and People, still the only full visual record of the (now two) countries.

On the craft of photography, Freeman's best-selling volume is The Photographer's Eye, which has sold more than 800,000 copies to date. He conducts photography workshops in locations as varied as the Gulf states, Indonesia, Singapore and China, and speaks regularly on photography, at venues varying from the the Royal Geographical Society, to the Smithsonian in Washington and the Asia Society in New York.

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