Lens-Artists Challenge – Exposure

A few months ago, we had challenges that dealt, in some ways, with the mechanics of cameras and how they impact on the outcome of photos. We talked about the bokeh effect and how aperture influences it; we had a challenge on movement where shutter speed can make a massive difference to how said movement is captured. When we click away, we are opening the camera’s shutter, allowing light in the sensor or film. The size of the exposure (relating to aperture) or the length the exposure (relating to shutter speed) will affect how that photo will look like. Simply put, if you’re looking for underexposure your camera’s shutter need to open less, either in aperture width or on shutter speed time. The opposite will result in overexposure. The effect can also be achieved easily with any decent photo editor app.

We’ll start with a couple of pairs of photos I took specifically for this challenge. On the first photo of this lovely magnolia, I just clicked and let the camera decide what to do. The second one, I’ve underexposed the shot, by changing to shutter priority (I find it more intuitive to work with shutter speed for controlling exposure) and going for a very short time of opening – 1/25000 sec. By not letting enough light to go through, only a few details were captured. In this case, I think the underexposed shot is by far more interesting proving that sometimes less is more.

I’ve done the same for this second example and, although the “right” exposure works better for me, it’s always worth playing a bit, you never know…

This playing about with shutter speeds has sometimes the inconvenient of leaving specific settings on. I’m very bad for that kind of forgetfulness and then, the following examples are what happens. The first photo is the result of leaving a long shutter speed on my camera settings (¼ sec) on a sunny day. The following one was shot with the correct settings. These two photos are the reason I never delete a shot, even the ones I don’t think they are keepers. What looked like a mistake turned out to be a photo I love, once I changed it to black & white. It’s almost like a painting.

Sometimes, when we are in a bit of a rush, we’re just a tad too lazy to play with settings or even not sure what to do with them, apps are great help to edit our photos. The following are examples of tweaking with exposure on Lightroom, but any photo app will do just the same.

A cherry blossom over and underexposed have a completely different feel and this case I like them both equally.

The first photo for this example is a typical case of dark interiors and trying to get the right shutter speed by trial and error. I picked the underexposed specifically for this challenge and just tried two exposure values on Lightroom. For more accurate feel, the second one is a closer match but for detailing, the slightly overexposed is better.

For this challenge, it is up to you how you work on exposure. You might, like me, prefer to use shutter speed to change the exposure balance when shooting. You can also play with aperture. Or you can have fun changing the exposure settings while editing. The idea here is to see how the mood of any photo depends on its exposure.

Last week we had John’s challenge that turned out to be a true invitation to be as creative as possible. The variety of replies showed how every challenge can be interpreted in a different, personal way and so it is again today. I invite you to play, think or just do your own thing with exposure, either on camera or while editing. and then show us the result.  If you join us, please link to this post and tag with Lens-Artists so we can all find you.

If you need more info on how the Lens-Artists Challenge works, click here.

Next week is Anne’s turn to host so please visit her site and join us if you can. Until then, take care.


116 thoughts on “Lens-Artists Challenge – Exposure

  1. Great examples! Sadly I saw my first moose but had put my camera on 50 ISO instead of Auto ISO…one click different on the dial. It was all happening so fast. My photo was completely underexposed. I got caught up in the excitement and it was right at dawn and still pretty dark…so my mistake in ISO cost me an up close photo of my first moose sighting. I even shot in raw, I recovered it slightly but it was so noisy🤭. Getting proper exposure is key!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Nothing wrong with that, Jo. We are lucky to be able to tweak things with a few clicks on the computer. Any process is valid, I think. Not much different from tweaking in a darkroom and a lot less messy 🙂


  2. Great theme and I love the clear way in which you explain your examples. I may not get around to participating as I’m still away, but I find this challenge idea so interesting that I may do a belated contribution when I get home!

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  3. I am truly looking forward to playing with exposures in post processing for this challenge. I really like your accidental high-key image of the tree. I admit that I don’t go to manual very often because my forgetful self then follows up with a bunch of poorly exposed photos because I forgot to set the camera back to automatic. >grin<

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  4. A very creative challenge Sofia – the responses should be very interesting. Today’s technology gives us so many choices – I suppose that’s the good news/bad news!! Loved your examples but especially that beautiful weeping branch in your second image set.

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  5. I like the paired photos you show. Interestingly unexpected effects you get while playing; certainly something to keep in mind, especially that high-key exposure of the trees.

    A challenge to bring out the craftsmen in us! I hope my contribution appears here at the time it is scheduled to publish.

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  7. I like these all, but I’m most drawn to the Cherry Blossom.
    I think it has to do with the others feeling like progressions whereas that one almost feels like two separate, though obviously connected images.
    That said, I think the others work because of the sense of progression they hold.

    Here’s mine for this one:

    Form Among Form

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  9. You’ve taken a difficult concept and explained it so well. Great job on this post and the photos. Your under and over exposed images were fascinating and got me to experiment with the same concept. That’s a wonderful way to see the emotional impact of adjusting the exposure. Fabulous, Sofia!

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