Chapter 5: What Is Exposure Triangle? – The Ultimate Beginners Photography Guide

Note: This article contains advertisements and may contain affiliate links. Read Privacy Policy and Disclamer of The Black Light Studios for more information on advertisements and affiliate links.

The Black Light Studios

Welcome to the fifth chapter of Free Online Photography Course – The Ultimate Beginners Photography Guide.

I have mentioned in the previous Chapter 4: What Is ISO? a professional term in photography known as Exposure Triangle. So, in this chapter five as you might already know by reading the heading of this article I will be going in depth and explain you the term Exposure Triangle. Now let’s get started.

Table Of Contents For Chapter 5

  • Introduction
  • What Is Exposure Triangle?
  • The Three Elements Of Exposure Triangle
  • Every Effects Of Exposure Triangle On Your Image
  • How To Use Exposure Triangle In Bright Lights?
  • How To Use Exposure Triangle In Low Light?
  • Summary Of Chapter 5
  • Self Assessment Questions (SAQ’s)
Advertisements

Introduction

Light is responsible for every image captured in both photography and cinematography. How a camera captures light is determined by three variables that make up what is known as the exposure triangle. What is the exposure triangle? How can each one of its three settings be used to capture an image?

In this article, we’ll dive in deep into the three variables that create the exposure of an image. I will also provide you with the exposure triangle chart for reference which will help you to get your desired look for your image.

Exposure Triangle is only one term but it is composed of three different elements. To learn to use the exposure triangle, you must understand how each variable works. For you to get a better understanding below is a definition of Exposure Triangle in simple words.

Advertisements

What Is Exposure Triangle?

Exposure Triangle consists of three elements that adjusts or decides how a camera captures light. The three elements of Exposure Triangle are Shutter Speed, Aperture and ISO. Those three elements together helps you get a properly exposed image. All the three elements of Exposure Triangle are dependent on each other. For Example: If you adjust one element of exposure triangle you have to adjust the other two elements to maintain proper exposure.

Exposure Triangle Reference Chart By The Black Light Studios

Now, we will take a look at short explaination of the three elements of exposure triangle. If you want in depth information on those three elements you can check out Chapter 2: What Is Shutter Speed?, Chapter 3: What Is Aperture? and Chapter 4: What Is ISO?

The Three Elements Of Exposure Triangle

As mentioned above Exposure Triangle consists of three different elements in simple words three different camera settings they are, Shutter Speed, Aperture and ISO. To understand the Exposure Triangle we have to learn how does these three elements work.

Advertisements

1. Shutter Speed

In photography, shutter speed or exposure time is the length of time when the film or digital sensor inside the camera is exposed to light, also when a camera’s shutter is open when taking a photograph. The amount of light that reaches the film or image sensor is proportional to the exposure time.

In simple words, shutter speed is the length of time the camera shutter is open, exposing light onto the camera sensor. What I mean by this is that it is a duration of time your camera spends taking a photograph. Shutter speed just does not only effects exposure it also has different effects like motion blur and freeze motion.

Waterfall motion blur captured at 1″ shutter spped.

Shutter speeds are measured in seconds, or fractions of a second. For example, a shutter speed of 1/100 means 1/100th of a second, or 0.01 seconds.  Here’s another example, 1/4 means a quarter of a second, while 1/250 means one-two-hundred-and-fiftieth of a second (or four milliseconds). 1″ marks 1 second.

Advertisements

2. Aperture

Aperture can be defined as an opening, hole, gap or a space through which light passes in an optical or photographic instrument, especially the variable opening by which light enters a camera. In simple words, An aperture is a hole in front of your camera lens through which light enters into the camera.

As pupil controls the amount of light enters into our eyes, the aperture does the same thing in working of a camera. In photography, the “pupil” of your lens is called aperture. You can shrink or enlarge the size of the aperture to allow more or less light to reach your camera sensor.

Aperture also has many different effects on your image from which two of the major effects are exposure and depth of field.

Aperture can be expressed in f-numbers. These f-numbers are known as f-stops and used to describe the size of the aperture or how much open or close the aperture is. It is generally written as numbers such as 1.4, 2, 2.8, 4, 5.6, 8, 11 and 16. To be precise it is written as f/1.4, f/2, f/2.8, f/4, f/5.6 and so on.

As you can see the Aperture is set to f/8.0.
Advertisements

3. ISO

ISO is one of the three fundamental settings of the photography that helps you control the overall exposure, along with shutter speed and aperture, that you can adjust when capturing a photo.

ISO is basically used to brighten or darken your photo by increasing and decreasing it, which is something you might adjust for technical or artistic reasons. By using ISO you can be flexible with the other two camera settings of an exposure triangle which will give you more control over the effects of shutter speed and aperture on your photograph.

ISO does not directly effects your exposure but it is more accurate to say that ISO is like a mapping to tell your camera how bright the output photo should be, given a particular input exposure. ISO has many different effects on your photograph. Two of which is exposure and noise.

Image with high ISO will be brighter than image with lower ISO. Capturing photos at high ISO will have more noise as compared to capturing photos at low ISO. ISO can also effect the dynamic range of your photo, with high ISO low dynamic range and with low ISO high dynamic range.

Image Captured at ISO100

Now that you have general idea of what each settings of the Exposure Triangle does too your image, let’s take a look at effects of Exposure Triangle in your image.

Every Effects Of Exposure Triangle On Your Image

Exposure Triangle” when you read it or listen from someone you might think it has something to do with exposure. Well, you are not wrong to think that because it does control the overall exposure of your image by using it’s three elements shutter speed, aperture and ISO.

Although, it’s primary use is for controlling the overall exposure of your image it also has many different effects on your image because of the three elements of exposure triangle. As, you have general idea what each settings does you might already know what those effects are?

In your image exposure triangle also effects the overall motion, depth of field, noise, dynamic range and many more. You have to set your camera settings according to the effects you want in your image.

Now, that you know how does the exposure triangle effects your overall image in many different ways, let’s take a look at how to use it in different situations for example: bright lights and low lights.

Advertisements

How To Use Exposure Triangle In Bright Lights?

There are pros and cons when shooting in an environment with a lot of light, such as shooting in a bright daylight. The benefit would be that you can shoot at your camera’s low native ISO allowing for minimal image noise and a full dynamic range.

However to avoid overexposure in your image, you’ll need to adjust either your aperture, shutter speed, or both. If you are shooting a still photo, you may want to begin with shooting at a faster shutter speed to cut down the amount of light coming into the camera.

This will allow you to control the light without compromising your desired aperture and depth of field. If your image is still overexposed, start closing down your aperture to something larger like f/16. While this will affect your depth of field, it will help to properly expose your image. Below image is an example of that:

Camera Settings: ISO 125, Shutter Speed: 1/6000s, Aperture: f/8.0

As you can see the above image was captured at bright daylight and still isn’t overexposed the reason for it is that it was captured at faster shutter speed which in this case is 1/6000s and at an aperture of f/8.0 and to avoid noise the ISO is 125.

There are many different ways to control the bright lights in all of those different ways each setting depends on other. If you change one setting you have to change others too until you get what you want.

Advertisements

How To Use Exposure Triangle In Low Light?

On the other side of the lighting spectrum, is capturing photograph with a limited amount of light. This could be the case when shooting at night, within closed interior locations, or shooting without much lighting equipment.

To avoid an underexposed shot, you’ll need to find a balance of all three exposure triangle elements that properly expose your image while also achieving the visual look you desire.

Finding a balance between all three in a low light setting will depend heavily on what you want to capture. For example, if you want to capture a photograph with a shallow depth of field, opening up to a f/1.4 may be enough to properly expose your shot. But if you want a deep depth of field by shooting at an f/5.6, you may need to increase your ISO. Below image is an example of that:

Camera Settings: ISO 1250, Shutter speed 1/30s, aperture f/4.0

As you can see in this image, it was captured at night and still isn’t underexposed. The goal to capture this image was to capture it with a deep depth of field and minimum noise as possible that is what it was captured at f/4.0 which help achieve deep deth of field and ISO at 1250 which helped to get minimum noise as possible and to get a perfectly exposed image the shutter speed was set at 1/30s.

A little bonus tip on shooting in low light with slow shutter speed use a tripod to avoid camera shake which could ruin your perfect photo.

Advertisements

Summary Of Chapter 5

Exposure Triangle consists of three elements that adjusts or decides how a camera captures light. The three elements of Exposure Triangle are Shutter Speed, Aperture and ISO. Those three elements together helps you get a properly exposed image.

Shutter Speed is the length of time the camera shutter is open, exposing light onto the camera sensor. Shutter speed just does not only effects exposure it also has different effects like motion blur and freeze motion.

As pupil controls the amount of light enters into our eyes, the aperture does the same thing in working of a camera. In photography, the “pupil” of your lens is called aperture. Aperture also has many different effects on your image from which two of the major effects are exposure and depth of field.

ISO is basically used to brighten or darken your photo by increasing and decreasing it, which is something you might adjust for technical or artistic reasons. By using ISO you can be flexible with the other two camera settings of an exposure triangle which will give you more control over the effects of shutter speed and aperture on your photograph.

In your image exposure triangle effects the overall exposure, motion, depth of field, noise, dynamic range and many more. You have to set your camera settings according to the effects you want in your image.

Advertisements

Self Assesment Questions (SAQ’s)

  1. What are the three elements of exposure triangle?
  2. Name any three different effects of exposure triangle.
  3. What is Exposure Triangle?
  4. What is Shutter Speed?
  5. What is Aperture?
  6. What is ISO?

This is the end of Chapter 5: What Is Exposure Triangle? of the Free Online Photography Course – The Ultimate Beginner Photography Guide. You can subscribe to The Black Light Studios website to stay tuned and get notifications on the upcoming chapters. In the mean time you can check my other posts on this website.

This is it for this post. Thank You! for visiting The Black Light Studios, I hope you find this article helpful to you and got the information you were looking for. Stay tuned for more posts like these by subscribing to The Black Light Studios website. If you have any suggestion or feedback comment down below or contact us through the contact form via contact menu.

If you want to post an article on The Black Light Studios website contact us through the post contact form via The Black Light Studios Homepage. If you like what you see please like and share as it will help me grow and get better. Thank You, once again. Also Subscribe to The Black Light Studios Youtube Channel.

7 thoughts on “Chapter 5: What Is Exposure Triangle? – The Ultimate Beginners Photography Guide

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.