Exposure Triangle


The exposure triangle is a common way of showing the relationship between the aperture, shutter, and ISO. Each element must be balanced to create the desired exposure for your image. An adjustment of one element requires an adjustment of at least one of the others.

Mastering the art of exposure

Mastering the art of exposure is something that takes a lot of practice. In many ways, it is a juggling act, and even the most experienced photographers’ experiment and tweaks their settings as they go. Keep in mind that changing each element not only impacts the exposure of the image, but each one also has an impact on other aspects of it (i.e., changing the aperture changes the depth of field, changing the ISO changes the graininess of a shot and changing the shutter speed impacts how motion is captured).

The great thing about digital cameras is that they are the ideal testing bed for learning about exposure. You can take as many shots as you like at no cost, and they not only allow you to shoot in auto mode and manual mode but also generally have semi-automatic modes like aperture priority and shutter priority modes. This will enable you to make decisions about one or two elements of the triangle and let the camera handle the other elements.

When understanding how to use the exposure triangle the photographer should understand how each point in the triangle works and how it is used to balance out each other. For example, if you are out side in bright light and you have a SDF (f/ 5.6) with a hand held speed (1/60 sec) with a Low ISO 100, and you need to block light so your exposure is darker you can bump up the shutter speed to 1/100 of second to block light or you can stop the aperture down a stop to F/8 each of them will give you the same result when it comes down to darkening the image. The difference comes in when you need to decide if you need the SDF or you need to stop action in the image. If you want to keep the SDF then you have to change the shutter speed, yet if you need to stop action you would need to change the aperture.

Below you will find all the diagrams that make up the exposure triangle.

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