The darkest tones in a picture. A pretty vague term (like ‘highlights’) but usually taken to mean the darkest areas where you can still see some image detail. Digital cameras often retain more shadow detail than you can see initially, and this can be brought out later on a computer.
Exposure is a big, BIG subject. Even today, getting the exposure right is both an art and a skill, and however sophisticated the in-camera metering systems become, the photographer is still the only one who knows what the picture needs to look like.
Essentially, you control the exposure using shutter speed (the length of the exposure), the lens aperture (how much light it lets through) and the ISO setting (the sensor's sensitivity setting). Each of these is a subject in its own right.
Cameras offer a variety of metering systems to measure the light, and you can choose how to control the shutter speed and lens aperture – or let the camera set them both – using the camera's exposure modes.
So here's a selection of articles about everything related to exposure – how it works, the tools available, and why the camera won't always get it right.
Very broadly, the middle brightness tones in a photo. Imagine the full range of tones in an image split into four equal parts – the darkest quarter makes up the ‘shadows’, the lightest quarter makes up the ‘highlights’ and in between are the ‘midtones’.
Digital cameras usually use multi-pattern/multi-segment light metering, but they also offer other ‘metering modes’ – centre-weighted metering (simpler) and spot metering (more precise). The camera will have a button or a menu option for changing the metering mode.
Where you set both the shutter speed and the lens aperture used by the camera. The camera’s exposure meter may recommend the settings, but you’re free to use or ignore this information. Manual exposure gives you total control but requires some experience.
Long exposures turn moving subjects like water and clouds into an atmospheric blur. The exposure time often needs to be several seconds or longer, so a tripod is essential. In bright light you’ll need a neutral density (ND) filter to get these long exposures.