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Understanding the Exposure Triangle

Exposure Triangle

If you’re learning about photography, you’ve probably heard about something called the “exposure triangle.” So what exactly is it and why is it so important?


The exposure triangle refers to the three core camera settings that control exposure and light in photography – shutter speed, aperture, and ISO. Getting these three elements right is crucial for capturing any photo with proper exposure. Mastering the exposure triangle gives you creative flexibility and control when photographing different subjects under various lighting scenarios.


Shutter Speed’s Role in the Exposure Triangle
The shutter speed determines how long your camera’s shutter remains open to expose your camera’s digital sensor or film to incoming light from your lens. Using faster shutter speeds like 1/1000th of a second allows you to freeze action completely without any motion blur. Employing slow shutter speeds like 1-second exposures will create stylish motion blur on moving subjects or convey movement artistically.


Aperture’s Role in the Exposure Triangle
The aperture refers to the size of the opening in your lens that incoming light travels through before reaching your camera’s sensor. The aperture is measured in f-stops – common numbers being f/1.4, f/4, f/8 and so forth. Open apertures with large diameters and small f-numbers like f/1.4 allow a lot of light in, perfect for low-light situations. But they also result in a shallower depth of field with less sharpness front-to-back. Narrower apertures like f/8 or f/16 have the opposite effect – letting in less light, but expanding your zone of sharp focus.


ISO’s Role in the Exposure Triangle
The ISO determines your camera sensor’s sensitivity to incoming light. Lower ISO values like 100 or 200 produce images with little noise but require more light to get a proper exposure. Higher ISO values like 1600 or 3200 are great when shooting in low light. But high ISO settings will add graininess from digital noise. Newer camera models generally can shoot at higher ISOs cleaner than older models.

Once you gain a handle understanding the give-and-take of the shutter speed vs aperture vs ISO triangle, you’llpossess the creative know-how to photograph any subject perfectly exposed no matter the lighting conditions. Let me know if you have any other photography questions!

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