What Is a “Stop” in Photography?

“Stop” is a photography term that gets thrown around a lot. Someone will describe a photo as a stop under-exposed, or tell you to increase your shutter speed by a stop. The concept can be a little confusing for new photographers, so let’s look at exactly what a stop is and what it means when it comes to photography.

Stops, Shutter Speed and Aperture

When you take a photograph, the exposure is determined by the area of the aperture and the exposure time (also called shutter speed). Although exposure is basically quantity-less, there are a range of combinations of aperture and exposure time that will create a good photographic exposure. If the aperture is too wide or the exposure time too long, then all you’ll get is a white photo; conversely, if either of them is too low, you’ll just get a black photo.

Since exposure is valueless—you don’t look at a scene and describe it as a 12 stop photo for example—there is no way to talk about things in absolutes. Instead, stops are used to describe relative changes in aperture and exposure time. One stop is equal to a halving (or a doubling) of the amount of light let into the camera by that factor.

So for example, if you have the shutter speed on your camera set to 1/100th of a second, increasing your exposure by one stop would change the shutter speed to 1/50th of a second (letting twice as much light into the camera). Changing your shutter speed to 1/200th of a second (halving the amount of light let into the camera) reduces your exposure by a stop. As you can probably see, for shutter speed the rule is really simple: to increase your exposure by a stop, double your shutter speed; to decrease your exposure by a stop, half it.

Photographers also talk about half-stops or third-stops. Third-stops are especially important as they’re the increment that most cameras use for their settings. These are…

How I Got Seduced By Wildlife Photography

While photography has become my primary language, animal whispering has evolved as a tool to communicate the unique sincerity emerging from a wild animal’s eye. Beyond the Art, wildlife photography allows me to seek the uniqueness in things while engaging with nature in a unique way. When meeting wild animals, I always feel gifted to be able to capture such sincere moments as it makes me feel instantly at peace.

Besides this bond with nature, I enjoy the challenge that is wildlife photography. As there are numerous things you have to deal with when you’re shooting a moving animal, finally getting the perfect shot makes for an unspeakable feeling of satisfaction.

A question I often get is how do you get the birds to land on your hand without food? Although I always wanted to reply saying that I am the real Snow White, every photo session simply starts with bird seeds and a whole lot of patience. However, my goal here isn’t to photograph birds eating out of my hand. The challenge is to create something unique. With persistence, I slowly gain the animal’s trust and it eventually comes to me without food. That’s when the real deal starts. There’s…

7 Useful Mods to Upgrade Your Smart Phone Camera

Snapping photos with a phone is fast becoming it’s own subgenre of photography: “iphoneography.” While the cameras in our phones get better and better, there are still some things — macroshots, decent lighting, the perfect selfie angle — that you can’t expect your phone to manage straight out of the box. To help you get some unique shots, here are TK projects to mod your smartphone and experiment with photography.

Gobo Arm Camera Phone Stand

Overhead shots can be notoriously tricky to get right if you’re holding your camera in your hands. If you’re doing a lot of “Step-by-step” photography, often overhead shots are the easiest way to illustrate a step (trust us, we should know!). This stand will latch onto your workbench allowing you to get your top-down shot without having to juggle your phone, your project, your tools, and allow you to focus on what’s really important: your hand modeling.

Inexpensive Digital Microscope

Perfect for the citizen scientist, this project uses the lens from a laser pointer and some cheap materials to create a digital microscope rig that just needs your phone’s…