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Reciprocity lawSWPP and BPPA Photographic Glossary

Wednesday 26th November 2014  




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Reciprocity law

To make an exposure, a photographer can, for example, choose a combination of a small aperture and a slow shutter speed or a large aperture and a fast shutter speed. Each movement of the aperture is classed as one stop go from f/8 to f/11 and you close the aperture by one stop. Similarly by adjusting the shutter speed from 1/125sec to 1/500sec you reduce the exposure by one stop. If you adjust the aperture by a stop and counteract this by also adjusting the shutter speed by one stop you will produce the same exposure value. Therefore an exposure of f/8 at 1/60th could be changed to any of the following combinations: f/11 at 1/30th, f/16 at 1/15th, f/5.6 at 1/125th or f/4 at 1/250th. This is called the law of reciprocity (if one value increases the other will decrease proportionally and visa versa).



 

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