Exposure, its all about the light.

April 04, 2023  •  Leave a Comment


Exposure, it’s all about the light.

Welcome back to my blog page and today it’s about exposure.

No, not about how many followers you may have on Instagram or Facebook but how much light is getting to your mobile camera sensor to get that fantastic photo.

It’s all about the light in photography and it can mean the difference between a truly great image that will attract attention and one that is merely ignored.

Exposure is expressed as a triangle, where the three sides work in harmony with each other to form an image.


The three sides are


How open or closed is the iris in the lens. With a camera lens this is variable and can be adjusted, with a phone it is set and not adjustable. The mobile manufacturers try to get the aperture as wide as they can to let in plenty of light because they design the camera for Social feeds, photos taken while out with friends and mainly indoors.


This is how sensitive the sensor is to light. At the lowest ISO setting it’s not very sensitive at all so dreadful for indoors but perfect for outdoors on a sunny day. As the mobile camera automatically compensates for lower indoor light it will energise the sensor, this however degrades the quality of the image as the higher the ISO goes. This is why a lot of indoor photos look a bit smudged and lacking detail.

Shutter speed.

How fast the camera shutter opens also dictates how much light hits that sensor. If the shutter speed is set to high an indoor image will be to dark if the shutter speed is set to low outside the image will be far too bright.

Luckily enough modern mobile phone cameras do their best to average everything out. However if you have bright areas and dark areas in the same scene, like in a bar, the phone will struggle to compensate for both, so it becomes an either or situation. With a portion of the image overly dark or overly bright.

So is there a way to get around this? Luckily enough there is. (To an extent)

As your phone is usually in automatic exposure mode, as you look at the screen just tap on it were its brightest or darkest and the phone will adjust giving you a brighter or darker image. Check for an area that is in the middle neither to bright or dark and tap there. That should give you a more evenly lit image. You can also adjust the exposure of the scene by once you have tapped the screen if you slide your finger up or down this tells the phone to adjust; at this point you are taking semi control of the exposure. Of course many mobiles come with a manual control adjustment so you can fully take over from the auto mode. At this point you will be setting the image to how you want it not the phone.

Another little trick is to turn on the HDR mode. HDR stand for High Dynamic Range and in this mode the camera will take a fast burst consisting of at least three images. One it thinks is the right exposure, one underexposed (a bit darker) and another one overexposed (a bit brighter). It then combines the three images into one for hopefully a more balanced photo.

You can use the built in flash or LED light on the phone but these produce a harsh light, not very flattering and again if the mobile is in auto mode everything outside of the flash range will be very dark, so you won’t get that sense of the place you’ve gone to.

Hope this has been of some help. It can get more complicated, much more in depth and for a photographer that’s where the challenge and the fun is.  

If you have any questions please leave them in the comments ill try my best to answer them.

If you need a photographer, please get in touch.

Please leave a like if your so inclined, you know the usual Facebook stuff.

Till next time, Cheers, Dave