Exposure is a term referring to all the factors that affect how a photograph was taken. When you talk about the exposure of a digital photograph, you're talking about the combination of ISO, aperture, and shutter speed used to capture the image by your DSLR camera sensor.

The correct exposure for the photograph you're trying to take is the exposure that captures the scene the way you want it to be seen. There's no one correct exposure for any given scene. You can have several professional photographers taking a photograph in the same place, at the same time, of the same subject, and they may end up with all different exposures that are all correct.

Since exposure is the end result of what we've been covering, here's a quick summary putting all the previous photography techniques together. Follow these tips to capture the desired image using the manual settings on your DSLR:

1. Visualize the final photograph as you want it to appear.

2. Are there any special considerations? - Do you need to use a polarizing filter?... 

3. What depth of field do you want? Select an appropriate aperture.

4. Is any motion involved? Select the appropriate shutter speed.

5. How bright is it? Keep the ISO as low as possible.

6. Where are you so far? Take a picture as a test, then make some balancing adjustments until you find the desired results. Below are some sample tips on making adjustments:

  • Underexposed (too dark)? - You can raise the ISO, lengthen the shutter, or increase the aperture.
  • Overexposed (too bright)? - Lower the ISO, shorten the shutter speed, or decrease the aperture.
  • Blurry? - Shorten the shutter speed and increase the aperture or ISO. If you don't want to shorten the shutter speed, use a tripod.
The easiest and fastest way to get the exposure you're looking for is by starting in aperture priority mode and seeing what the camera thinks the correct exposure is. You can then switch over to manual mode starting with the same settings the camera gave you in aperture priority mode and make your adjustments from there to get the exposure just the way you want it.
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