Key Things You Need to Know about Exposure

The first thing every photographer with a DSLR camera should learn, apart from taking the lens cap off and pressing the sacred button, is getting their exposure settings right.

Good exposure



Nowadays you can find hundreds of places on the web that give you detailed guides and online classes on how to set the correct exposure, but almost none of them seems to work. But there's always an easier way to do things and we're about to explain you how to master the art of exposure—which is about properly combining aperture, shutter speed, and ISO values—in less than 30 minutes. However, it will take some imagination and good sense of humor too.

At first you will need to imagine that you are on a boat and you are a pirate. That's right, a proper piraty pirate with a tri-cornered hat, coat, and breeches on. And there's also a parrot sitting on your shoulder. Well, actually you can leave the parrot out if you are allergic to animals.

Now, captain, please take your spyglass (you can use a piece of thick paper and roll in into a tube if you accidentally forgot your habiliments) and simply keep reading.


A small aperture means a large number, e.g. f/22 is really small whilst f/2.8 is large. Try coming to a porthole, looking at the open sea, and rolling your spyglass very tight to make sure that almost no light comes in. Dark, isn't it?

Now you are probably trying a small aperture, like f/16 or something like this. Try unrolling your spyglass to let in more light and you will have a big aperture, say f/4. Fiat lux or let there be light, ladies and gents!


Shutter speed is the amount of time during which you are looking through your spyglass. The smaller it is, the darker your shot will be and vice versa. It is measured in seconds and its value varies from 1/3200 to 1/50—though it mainly depends on your camera—because of the light conditions and your aperture.

You should always remember that if you take photos of moving subjects using a high shutter speed, the chances are that the subject will turn out to be blurred. In this case we advise you to get some supporting piece for your camera. A tripod will do.

And now just keep standing where you stand and enjoy the sea breeze.


ISO is all about filth. The dirtier your porthole is, the lower the ISO. If you are using your spyglass only on sunny days, the dirty porthole glass will do. But if you fancy taking the sea in the evening and at nights, you will surely need to keep your boat clean and use a high ISO value.


We hope that you already thought of arriving to the firm ground and trying to test these simple things to get better and more balanced shots every time. To make it even easier, there's a rule for it.


It works 100% if you are working on a sunny day and shooting a frontlit subject. Just think f/16, ISO 100, shutter speed 1 to every 1 ISO, or 1/100. Check out the equivalent exposures for this rule, good luck, and keep snapping!

Exposures for sunny f/16 rule, ISO 100

Aperture Shutter Speed

f/22 1/50 second

f/16 1/100 second

f/11 1/200 second

f/8 1/400 second

f/5.6 1/800 second

f/4 1/1600 second

f/2.8 1/3200 second

Apply these awesome techniques to shoot distinctive photos that people will love, use our platform to sell them, and earn at least 70% of the photo value. Become a KeepSnap independent photographer and go out today to snap people around you and earn a living. It's completely free for photographers.