EXPERT EXPOSURE – Fine-tune camera settings to record the best exposure

TAKING control of exposure with your Canon DSLR means actively deciding which part of a scene you want to expose for, and how bright or dark your shots are overall. Exposure is determined by the combination of aperture, shutter speed and ISO (as demonstrated by the exposure triangle diagram on the right). Together, these three settings control how much light reaches the sensor inside your camera. Remember that different setting combinations can capture the same brightness in an image – for example, 1/500 sec at f/4, 1/125 sec at f/8, or 1/30 sec at f/16.

Each image taken would be equally bright, but the depth of field (how much of the scene is in focus in the resulting shot) would change with each different aperture setting.

Exposure triangle

THE three fundamental elements of exposure are aperture, shutter speed and ISO. Imagine these make up three sides of an exposure triangle, and that creating a balanced exposure is a juggling act between these settings. When you alter one element, you have to compensate by adjusting at least one of the other two. For example, a wide aperture and a short shutter speed might produce the same exposure as a narrow aperture with a longer shutter speed, but the resulting images will be different. The trick to getting the ‘correct’ exposure is to get all three elements working together so you get the results you want.


Check the exposure level by reviewing images’ histogram on your Canon


A histogram shows the tonal range of your image. The left side corresponds to shadow details and the right side to highlights, so you can see what tonal detail is recorded and how much is lost.


You can view the histogram of images both as you compose in Live View mode and afterwards when reviewing shots. To display the histogram, press Info until it appears on the LCD screen.


A bell-shaped histogram indicates a correct exposure. Shots skewed to the left contain darker tones, while those to the right have more highlights. Clipped tones touch the edges of the graph.

YOUR camera’s meter isn’t infallible when it comes to setting the best exposure, and in tricky lighting conditions, it can over or underexpose subjects.

When you shoot in Tv and Av exposure mode, it’s easy to brighten or darken your shots using Exposure Compensation. Use the Q button to reach the settings menu, go to Exposure Compensation, and use the thumbwheel to dial it in. Positive values lighten your photograph, while negative values darken it. For this image, the bright sky caused the meter to underexpose the flowers: +1-stop of positive exposure compensation lightened them up.


It’s easy to improve your images by investing a little time in thoughtful framing with your DSLR

WHEN composing shots with your Canon, there are many different tricks and devices for producing striking results. To get you started, we’ve outlined the most popular ones here. You need to consider both the subject and background elements of your scene, taking care to avoid distractions and cluttered backdrops. You also need also decide whether a landscape or portrait orientation will best suit the scene at hand. The key to strong composition is finding a way to draw the viewer’s eye into the frame. More often than not, this is done by positioning your main subject off to one side, rather than bang in the middle, to make the frame more dynamic. Remember that shooting height and view also affect the composition. If your Canon has a tilting LCD screen, use it to reach unusual viewpoints, such as crouching low to the ground.


Master this classic compositional approach

THE simplest way to compose balanced and visually pleasing images is with the rule of thirds. To get started, divide your scene into a rough 3×3 grid and then position key objects or areas along the lines or within the grid squares. This approach works well for landscapes if you place the horizon line on the top or bottom third of the frame.

Use grids to compose

WHEN you shoot in Live View mode, you can display a grid on your Canon’s LCD monitor. This will overlay your scene, and can be used to align or position objects when composing images.

On most models, there are several options to choose from. To activate the grid feature, head to your Canon’s main menu, then navigate to Live View Settings, and turn Grid Display on. The first grid with nine squares is generally the most useful, as it’s identical to the rule of thirds. The grid won’t be displayed on your final images, but it’s a handy tool for helping you to frame up shots.

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