When you take a picture, whether you’re using a film camera or a digital one, you are recording the light that is reflected off of your subject.
When that light reflects off of your subject, it enters the camera lens and moves through an opening called the aperture. The aperture is a lot like the pupil of your eye and, like the pupil, the size of the aperture opening can change to change the amount of light that moves through the camera lens. So, a larger aperture opening allows more light to pass through and a smaller aperture opening restricts the amount of light.
Once the light has passed through the aperture and the lens, it moves through the camera to the shutter. The shutter is basically a door that covers the camera’s image sensor and as long as that door stays closed, no light gets through to the sensor. The shutter flips open when a photo is taken (and the shutter button is pressed), allowing light to move past it and strike the image sensor. The amount of light that hits the sensor depends on how long the shutter door stays open. This length of time is called shutter speed.
The light that passes through the shutter then strikes the camera’s digital image sensor, a computer chip that is sensitive to light. And this is where the magic of digital photography really happens. The light that has traveled through the camera finally strikes the camera’s sensor where it is captured as an image file. A digital photograph is born.
To read more about how a digital camera works, check out these resources:
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f you are just getting started in photography, exposure is one of the first things you need learn.
But even beyond that, getting a good handle on exposure and how the different components of exposure work together is essential if you want to take control of your photography and the images that you are creating.