There are many concepts in photography that are difficult to wrap your head around, and one that can be especially challenging for someone new to the craft to comprehend is the concept of “a stop of light”.

A “stop” is a term you may have heard more times than you can count, though never explained in a manner that allows you to apply it practically in your shooting. We’re going to take a trip in the “WayBack Machine” to 2013 and watch our own Pye break the idea down so that you understand it, internalize it, and are therefore better equipped to and manipulate light in your shoots. So…what is it? Watch the video and also check out the bullet points below for a breakdown.

A Stop of Light DEFIned

  • A relative measurement of the amount of light in a particular photograph.
  • A Stop of Light is either double or half the amount of light in a particular photo.
  • To brighten an image by one stop means you increase its brightness by 100%. Another way to put it us that you double the amount of light your image has.
  • To take away one stop of light means, you decrease the brightness of an image by 50%. (Obviously, if you decrease the light by 100%, you have no light and are left with a completely dark image.)
  • Increasing the brightness in your image by two stops of light is not an increase of 200%, but 400% because, the amount of light has been doubled and then doubled again.
  • Decreasing the brightness in your image by two stops means reducing the brightness by 50% and then reducing it another 50%.

To master foundation lighting techniques, check out our Lighting 101 workshop, or stream it along with a plethora of photography and post-production education as an SLRL Premium member.

[REWIND: What’s A T Stop Got To Do With It? | T Stops VS F Stops & When They’re Used]

[REWIND: Lighting Tutorial | Using Laws Of Light To Create Dimensionality In Your Photos]