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Thursday, February 16, 2012

Shutter Skills: Exposure Triangle

This is the first post in my new blog series, Shutter Skills. Yay! I'll be sharing my knowledge about photography so you all can improve your own photos. We'll start off with the technical stuff, which will be used later with different techniques.

So lets start with the exposure triangle. What exactly is the exposure triangle? Well it's the three elements that are used to create an image:

   -Shutter Speed

The goal is to create a proper exposure, a photo which is nether too bright or too dark, using the three element above. When you adjust one setting, it affects the other two as well. It takes a lot of practice to get it all down, so the best thing to do is just practice, practice, practice!

Shutter Speed

The shutter speed is how long the shutter remains open while capturing an image. Slow shutter speeds let in more light, while a fast shutter speed will let in less light. Shutter speeds are measured in seconds or fractions of a second. 1/1000 is fast, while 1/40 is slow.

High shutter speeds
 are good for freezing the action...

slow shutter speed can capture the feel of motion.

While hand holding, you'll want to keep your shutter speed a little bit faster than the focal length of your lens. For example, if you're shooting at 50mm, 1/60 is about the slowest you'd want to go, but if it was 200mm you wouldn't want to go lower than about 1/250. If you need to shoot at a slower shutter speed, you'll need a tripod or something to set your camera on so it doesn't move at all while the shutter is open.

Aperture is the size of the opening in the lens when a photograph is taken. The wider open the aperture is, the more light it will let in. 

The aperture is measured in
f-stops. The smaller the f-stop, the the wider the lens is opened. For example f/2.8 is a large opening, while f/8 would have a much smaller opening.

The ISO is how sensitive the image sensor is to the light. A low ISO, such as 100-200, use less light. If you use a high ISO, your camera will use more light. Therefore, when your in a situation when you need more light, such as indoors or when it's getting dark outside, you'll want to bump up your ISO so it can capture more light. However there is a downside when using high ISO's, which is grain. The higher up the ISO goes, the more grain your image is going to have, so always try to keep your ISO as low as possible.

Camera Modes
You know that little dial on the top of your camera? The one with letters like "Tv", "Av", or "M" for Cannon users and "A", "S", and "M" for those using a Sony or Nikon? Here's what they all mean and how you can use them:

   -"Tv" or "S" is Shutter Priority. In this mode you get to choose your shutter speed and the camera will pick the aperture and the ISO. Shutter priority is great for when you want to freeze the action and stay at a higher shutter speed or when you want to do a time exposure by leaving the shutter open longer.

   -"Av" or "A" is Aperture Priority. You choose your own aperture in this mode, while the camera will choose the shutter speed and the ISO. Aperture priority is the mode I shoot in about 90% of the time. I like being able to choose my aperture, especially with portraits, and let my camera do the rest.

   -"M" is manual. You choose all three settings; aperture, shutter speed, and ISO. It's best to get familiar shooting in aperture and shutter priority before going to manual, because you'll have a lot more to think about.


  1. awesome! I love tutorials like this, and your photos illustrate it really well. can't wait for more Shutter Skills - such a good idea! :)

  2. Hi Sereina! I am definitely looking forward to your photography blogging series! I always have a difficulty understanding this and putting it to action but you explain it very well! I am a very visual learner and so seeing all of the pictures definitely makes a difference! :D


  3. Mary Ann:
    Yay! I was hoping the photos were good examples. And I'm glad to hear you're looking forward to more Shutter Skills. :)

    Glad to hear that it finally made cents to you! I'm a visual learner too, so I plan on using lots of photo examples in all of my Shutter Skills posts.

  4. Wow!!! I'm definitely bookmarking these posts for when I get a nice camera someday! :-D

    Love in Christ,

  5. Great little tutorial post. Very well explained! :)

  6. Vicki:
    Hope you'll get some good use out of this series in the future!

    Thank you!

  7. This is a great explanation of the exposure triangle, Sereina...very helpful! No matter how many times I review this information, it's still confusing to me, but you explained it really clearly and simply. I'm looking forward to your next Shutter Skills post!

  8. This is so helpful! I've been learning about shutter speed, ISO, and aperture this year so this was great!

  9. This is a great, clear summary of the basics of exposure! I'm going to forward this to a friend of mine who just got her first DSLR.
    (By the way, on Canon cameras, you still pick the ISO yourself in Tv and Av - at least on my Rebel XTi you do).

  10. Amy:
    Thank you! I always find it easier to learn something if the facts are explained simply, so I wanted to explain it that way as well. Glad to have another Shutter Skills fan! :D

    Glad it was helpful!

    Thanks! Hopefully it will be of good use to your friend. (Oh, and yes, when using Shutter or Aperture Priority I can choose my ISO or leave it on auto. Is that the same with Canon?)

  11. So happy about tutorials! Thanks! I'm so close to the amount of money for my SLR, I can almost taste it. This is exactly what I need! :)

  12. All of this went completely over my head but I am so amazed at your incredible God given ability and aptitude for photography. Love all your posts. :)

  13. awesome help, thanks!


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