Lessons about Exposure and Lighting

I had the pleasure of photographing a very beautiful Siamese cat named MooShu. He is a very peaceful cat who adores interacting with people. He is an older gentleman with beautiful deep blue eyes and a magnificent silky smooth coat. Moo, as I affectionately call him, is an excellent cat to photograph as he is very trusting and not at all skittish.

Choosing my first subject was easy. However, choosing where he would be photographed wasn’t so easy. Moo likes is special place which is an upstairs room with not a lot of light. So, how do I handle this?  I tried first to photograph an object that I thought would be similar lighting as the room that Moo was in, but I was wrong.

The object I chose to focus on to pre-set my settings before photographing Moo was a small metal butterfly sitting on a special shelf that was all its own. The lighting in the room was an overhead chandelier and I wasn’t sure if the lights were fluorescent or regular light bulbs. But once I shot this photo, I thought I’d be all ready to seamlessly shoot some photos of Moo. I was wrong…

Metal Butterfly

Metal Butterfly

Moo was in an upstairs room. The lighting was completely different. As a matter of fact it was almost non-existent! Moo liked to hang out in what was described as the “MooShu Lair!” Yes, it was indeed Moo’s very own room. It was a simple room that was quiet and peaceful just like Moo. But…the lighting was completely different. I did not think about the lighting being different from room to room. The room had one small decorative lamp sitting on a side table and a window. The sun had set and dusk had set in. MooShu was barely visible on the couch in the room. You would think I could get Moo to move to a different room, but he was sooooo comfortable laying on the couch I didn’t have the heart to call him to another room. So much for pre-setting my camera to easily take pictures.=

Now I was at a loss. Since the room was dark I couldn’t see the buttons on the camera to figure out what settings I should change to accommodate the lighting.  After “fiddling” around with the settings, here is the first picture I took of Moo in the dark room.

MooShu in a very dark room.

MooShu in a very dark room.

Sheesh…that is just awful…I know!!!  Here’s the second photo I shot in which I increased the ISO:

Moo Shu - same dark room different settings.

Moo Shu – same dark room different settings.

Oh, boy…not much better. But then it dawned on me. E X P O S U R E! I needed to increase the exposure! So, that’s what I did.

MooShu – dark room – increased exposure

Ahhhh…much better! This is the MooShu I know.

There are a few lessons I learned during this photo session:

  1. You can’t preset your camera’s setting while standing in a different room from where the picture is actually being taken.
  2. I need to memorize the buttons on my camera. It was very frustrating not really knowing which button showed the correct menu on the camera’s screen.
  3. I need to relax. There was no pressure here. I was only with my husband and Moo and there was no reason to be nervous, but I was.
  4. I realized that I don’t yet have a good grip on exactly how ISO, Exposure, Aperture and all the other settings affect the photograph.  I need more lessons.

Here are a few more pictures of MooShu.  I love that cat!

MooShu and Mark

Beautiful MooShu

Beautiful MooShu


8 thoughts on “Lessons about Exposure and Lighting

  1. Great shot of the stunning MooShu! I mention to people often a fantastic website for all things related to learning camera ins and outs called, DPreview. I’ve learned quite a bit from the maestros there. They also do profiles on quite a few cameras, both new and older models.


    • Thanks for your kind comment and also for the recommendation. I did check out DPreview and it is a wonderful site! It will be a great go to site. I may have responded to your message previously as I’m also figuring out how WordPress. I apologize if this is a duplicate reply.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Excellent! I’m glad you feel the way I do about DPreview. They really have something special. Seems they understand not everyone arrives with full knowledge of their camera’s functions or what key things to look for when considering a purchase. I have nothing but respect for what they’ve created.


  2. This is my first visit to your blog. I’m glad you’re doing your homework learning how to use your camera in low light situations. May I recommend shooting in RAW format as that would give you 250 times more information to adjust the lighting, color balance and and all the rest of the available adjustments of post processing. You did an admirable job with the final picture. – Bob


    • Bob – thanks so much for your advice. I’ve seen references to shooting in RAW format but I’m not quite grasping the concept yet. Does shooting in RAW simply mean taking your camera off auto and using the manual settings? Maybe I’ll head over to YouTube and see if I can find a good instructional video that covers the topic. (Thanks again for your advice – I certainly can use it!)


      • RAW is a format that camptures every pixel of light it sees. It is uncompressed so the resulting picture file is much larger than the standard point & shoot format of Jpeg that is highly compressed and processed by the camera’s internal processor. Raw files have nothing done to them by the camera requiring the user to take care of such things as exposure, brightness, contrast, color balance, sharpness and more. It requires post processing but gives you 250 times more information to work with than the same shot yaken as a jpg file. I’ve been shooting exclusively in RAW format for about 8 years and would never go back to shooting in Jpeg.


      • When teaching my present photography student it wasn’t till we starting studying post processing in Adobe Elements that the lightbulb of understanding showed her the wisdom of shooting in RAW. With today’s memory cards so inexpensive the size of the photo files isn’t really a concern anymore. I save the RAW files of the shots I process into JPEGs as “negatives” that can be redone any time later. As I learn new techniques or add additional editing software I sometime return to my RAW files to produce a better picture. The latitude shooting in RAW gives you makes the work worth it.


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