You can study photographic theory and read books on digital photography to your heart’s content. But there’s nothing that’s going to get you there until you get out and start shooting, working with your camera and learning what the different settings do. And part of the way that we learn about our camera and specifically our camera settings is to see exactly what they do in terms of the final image. This is especially true with the exposure settings of aperture and shutter speed. The only way you can really get a feel for how these settings work is to go out and play with them and study the effect the different settings have on your photos.
But that can be tough when you shoot a lot of photos. Are you supposed to remember the settings that you used for each image?
Well luckily there’s an easy answer to that and it has to do with the wonderful convenient of digital photography.
When you snap a photo and it’s saved to your camera’s digital image sensor, the camera also saves the settings that you used to take the photo. This information is stored as metadata in the file and most photo editing software packages allow you to view the contents of this data if you know where to look. It’s a little different in the different programs, so let’s look at three of the more ones: Photoshop, Photoshop Elements and Lightroom:
In Photoshop and PS Elements, you can access the metadata by choosing:
This will open the File Info dialog box. It looks a little different in the different versions of Photoshop and Elements. Depending on your version of Photoshop/Elements, you’ll either see a list of categories running down the left-hand side or a row of tabs running across the top of the dialog box.
This is the dialog box in Photoshop CS6:
Look for a category or a tab with a label that says “Camera Data” or something similar (older versions of Photoshop have this data split into two categories, Camera Data 1 and Camera Data 2).
Clicking on “Camera Data” will bring up a box showing information on the camera that was used to take the photo as well as information on the camera’s settings. This is a screen shot of that data in Photoshop CS6:
So you can see that I took this image using my Nikon 5100, and you see the settings that I used. It’s all right there!
And there’s a lot more information in the File Info dialog box. So I encourage you to explore the different categories and tabs to see what else is there.
Now let’s look at viewing the camera settings in Lightroom.
Import your image into Lightroom and then choose the Library module from the top menu bar:
Then click on the “Metadata” tab on the right hand side of the workspace to open the category. There, you can scroll down to move through the camera data:
You can control the data that shows in the Metadata box by clicking on the Metadata set drop box in the upper left hand corner of the Metadata box:
And choosing a different set:
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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.