Cinematographer Eve Hazelton Explains the Five Pillars of Exposure

Photographers and filmmakers alike need to understand the basics of controlling the exposure of an image. It’s one of the foundations of their crafts. Cinematographer Eve Hazelton does a wonderful job of explaining the five ways to expose an image in this short video where she also details the unique creative side effects that come along with each method. Newbies and seasoned professionals will both enjoy this simple and straightforward, yet inspired visual tutorial.

Not only does Hazelton explain how each method of controlling exposure can affect the resulting image, she enlightens the viewer with ideas of how these can control the tone of a scene.

As a review, these are the five pillars and, as she refers to them, their “creative side effects.”

The Five Pillars of Exposure

  1. Aperture: the method of controlling how much light is let onto the sensor. The creative side effect is the amount of depth of field. A larger aperture creates a shallower depth of field than a smaller aperture – leaving a creative impact on what is in focus, and on what is not.
  2. Shutter Speed: the amount of time each frame is being exposed to light. The creative side effect is how motion is affected. Faster shutter speeds freeze action in the image where a slower shutter speed allows for movement within the exposure – leaving a creative impact on motion blur within a frame.

  3. ISO: the sensitivity of your film stock or digital sensor. The creative side effect of increasing the ISO is the grain or noise that will also be increased within the image – leaving a creative impact on the perceived clean or dirty look to the image.

  4. Neutral Density Filters: darkened glass that reduces the amount of light entering the camera lens. The creative side effect really lies in the ability to use aperture, shutter speed, and ISO however you want while controlling the amount of light with a filter – although in photography, these filters allow for larger apertures with added flash during a bright day, when the shutter speed is limited. Also to note, cheap filters can cause color and focus issues.

  5. Lighting: the source of illumination that allows your camera to capture an image. The creative side effect depends on perceived light size and how close the source is to the subject – leaving infinite possibilities on how to sculpt and paint with light, and how those choices in quality, direction, and color of light can shape the mood and psychological impact of the resulting image.

You can check out more of her tutorials on the RealmPictures YouTube channel, or visit her website for her hour-long masterclass lighting tutorials. You can also follow Eve Hazelton on Instagram and Twitter.

[Via No Film School]

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3 Comments

Christopher Elder's picture

Excellent video. Great examples of lighting and the effects it has on the end video/photo.

I really loved the simplicity of this video.

The only point I disagree with is the notion that ND filters don't affect creative output. When I've been on shoots outdoors with bright sunlight, ND filtration has allowed me the luxury of using shutter speed and aperture for creative decision making. If I had not had ND available, I would have had no choice but to stop way down, set my lowest ISO, and increase shutterspeed to keep the image from overexposing. With the right amount of ND, I could choose my settings and achieve the image I wanted as opposed to the only image I could get.

Aaron Brown's picture

Absolutely Jonathan! That's why I noted it in my re-cap. Cheers!