Understand Exposure Triangle in Photography Easy Way

Exposure triangle phodus

Learn How to Master Exposure triangle

The exposure triangle is the foundation in photography. It controls the light that forms an image. It can help you become a better photographer. As it is doing to the professionals. They have achieved it by mastering it.

As a beginner. You might find it difficult to understand it. It might get confusing and time taking.

But don’t worry,

It is not difficult, it’s a mindset. You can learn and develop it. You need to get appropriate knowledge and practice. In this article, I have made it easy for you to understand and execute it.

You will get to know what is exposure? What is the exposure triangle in photography? Role of exposure triangle? What are the elements of the exposure triangle?. In the end, you will understand all the aspects used in photography.

Let’s jump into the material,

What is the Exposure Triangle in Photography?

The exposure triangle is a combination of three essential elements. That consists of Shutter Speed, Aperture, and ISO. These three pillars when performed together represent the Exposure Triangle.

exposure triangle diagram phodus
Exposure Triangle diagram/chart

Let me break it down to make it more simple to understand the photography triangle.

First, understand,

What is exposure to photography?

Exposure is how bright or dark your image will be after being exposed to the light. It is the effects of lights to form the picture. The image can be overexposed, underexposed, or correctly exposed.

When the camera collects more than the required lights it is called overexposed. When the camera collects less than the required lights is called underexposed. Finally when you capture a picture with proper lights is called correct exposed.

“The input of light that makes the photographs brighter, or darker is exposure in Photography”.

Let’s take it another way. If you give priority to any one of these three components. You have to compensate/manipulate with the other two or with both to get the correct exposure in the image.

For example:(According to your photographing needs)

If your priority is to freeze the moving subject. The main role is of the shutter speed. You have to set the fast shutter speed by judging the speed of the subject.Fast shutter speed will bring less light.

Now you have to compensate/change the aperture or both to achieve a properly exposed image.After freezing your second priority may be to achieve a shallow or wider depth of field.

For shallow use, fast aperture and for wider DOF use a small aperture, and then you can compensate with the ISO.While compensating. Remember to achieve a correct exposure image according to your photographing needs.

If your priority is to achieve shallow depth of field. The main role is of the aperture. You have to set the fast aperture to target the subject and create a shallow depth of field.Where the background gets blurry.

Fast aperture will bring more light. Now you have to compensate with the shutter speed and ISO or with both to get a well-exposed image.

The same priority system is with the ISO. That’s why these three master components are the exposure triangle. As they are connected.

So Now,

Here is the final word for Exposure Triangle.

“The three fundaments elements that control the exposure are known as exposure triangle”

You should also know this,

What are EVs in Photography?

EVs are the exposure values. It is the common value of all the three elements .i.e Shutter Speed, Aperture, ISO. The combined value of these three settings is called exposure value (EVs).

These three are interrelated to each other. Increasing or decreasing the values is referred to as “stop”. Doubling or halving the amount of light is called a stop.

Exposure Values EVs explained

Let’s now discuss these three variables of the exposure triangle.

Shutter speed in Photography

Shutter speed is the length of time the light exposes the image sensor. The duration of time the camera sensor is exposed to the light to produce a picture. It means during the duration the image sensor collects the light into the sensor.

There is a shutter in the camera body. Which opens when you press the shutter button to collect the light for a particular duration. It is like the curtain of a window. When you open it light gets in the house.

Shutter speed is measured in seconds or in fraction of seconds i.e 1s or 1/125s.

Longer the shutter speed more light will come into the sensor. Faster the shutter speed less light will enter the sensor.

The long shutter is also known as slow or long exposure. A fast shutter is also known as fast exposure.

The long exposure is above 1s and it goes up to 30s or 60s also. Where the fast shutter speed starts from 1/125s which goes up to 1/8000th of a second.

Shutter speed controls the following things:

  • Exposure
  • Motion Blur
  • Freezing

When you set a fast exposure. It helps you to freeze the moving subjects and collect less light also. So for correct exposure, you have to compensate with the aperture and ISO or with both.

When you set long exposure. It helps to create motion blur in the picture with more light. The motion blur happens if anything is moving in the frame. Now you have to compensate with Aperture and ISO or with both to get a correct exposure.

The best example of a motion blur is a waterfall. You can see the sense of movement in the water. These types of photography can be used as creative photos.

motion blur phodus
PC: V2osk water fall. 35mm, f/4.0, 10s, ISO 200

When you decrease the shutter speed you are halving the amount of light. When you increase the shutter speed you are doubling the shutter speed.

With fast shutter speed, the subject will freeze with less light and a sharper image. With slow shutter speed, motion blur will create with adding more light. And for correct exposure, you have to manipulate with Aperture and ISO.

Aperture In photography

Aperture is the amount of light that will enter into the image. The opening and closing of a diaphragm in the lens through which the light passes to the image sensor.

The wider the aperture more light gets into the camera. The smaller the aperture less light will get into the camera. It is represented in f-stop or f-number i.e f1.4 or f2.8.

Here the beginners may get confused. When the aperture number is small it means wider aperture and more light will enter. When the aperture number is larger it means a small aperture and less light will enter.

For example, f1.4 is a wider aperture than f2.8 or f5.6.

Aperture control the following essential things:

As discussed above aperture affects the exposure. Large apertures like f1.4,f1.8,f2,f2.8 allow more light. Whereas small apertures like f6,f8, f11, f22 allow less light.

It also affects the depth of field. DOF is the “amount of area in focus” from the foreground to the background in the frame. Wider aperture there will be a shallow depth of field. Smaller aperture there will be larger depth of field.

In the shallow depth of field, the subject is isolated from the background and foreground. The subject is more in focus and the rest of the unwanted elements in the frame are out of focus.

Out of focus leads to blurring images. Which is another effect of the aperture?

The best example is portraits photography, where the face of the model is in focus and sharp. And the background is blurry.

portraits picture of girl phodus
PC: Tamara. Shallow depth of field. Blur background. 35.0mm, f/2.5, 1/800s. ISO 200

In a wider depth of field, everything in the frame is in focus. Which means the images are sharper from foreground to background. You can see Smaller aperture in landscape photography and architecture photography. Also in wide-angle photography where you want everything to be in focus.

Group photos are also a good example of a wider depth of field(small aperture).

Open up 1 stop double the amount of light into the camera and slow down 1 stop half the amount of light into the camera. Open up means increasing the aperture and slow down means decreasing the aperture.

Aperture has many other byproducts also. Like it creates bokeh, sunburst, lens flares, and lens diffraction. You can use these effects as artistic photography.

ISO in Photography

ISO in photography means “the sensitivity of the light to the image sensor”. Once the light has passed the lens and shutter, the ISO controls and decides how sensitive the image will be.

ISO Explained

You can set the ISO sensitivity by the ISO numbers available in the camera. It is also measured in stops. ISO no. starts from 50 or 100 depending upon cameras. The largest ISO these days goes to millions.

Small ISO produces sharper and detailed with dark image. Where increasing the ISO produces more light with brighter images. But high ISO comes with noise also.

Taking pictures with noise and grain isn’t a bad choice always. Something it can be seen as an artistic point of view. Which will produce creative photographs?

To achieve high-quality images try to keep the ISO as low as possible.

It has two modes to select, one is Auto mode and the other one is Manual mode. In auto mode, the camera decides the ISO according to the light situation. In manual mode, you can set the ISO no. yourself.

You can find the ISO setting in the back screen of your camera or on the above display. You can change the ISO no from the dial available in the body or from the back screen. You can also see it in the viewfinder.

Here is the myth about ISO:

Many say ISO stands for Image sensitivity optimisation. Which is not correct at all. The ISO stands for “ International Organisation for Standard”. It is the regulatory body that sets standards of many Industries.

Conclusion

So now you know about exposure triangle explained in this article. It’s time to practice it. As said earlier it’s all about mindset and you can have a growth mindset. As you also know about Shutter speed, Aperture, and ISO.

Take your camera and press the shutter button. Do as many experiments as you can and practice more.

If you are still left with any confusion. You can ask me in the comments section. I would love to hear it from you.

FAQ

How much time will it take to learn the Exposure triangle?

Well, it depends on you. If you give your time to learn and practice. You can command over it in minimal time.

What is Aperture Priority Mode?

In this mode, you can set the aperture as per your photographing needs. The camera will control the Shutter speed and ISO automatically.

What is Shutter Priority Mode?

In this mode, you can set the shutter speed as per your image needs and the camera will control the aperture and ISO.

What is bokeh?

Bokeh means blur. It is a quality of background blur.

What type of photography can I do after learning the Exposure triangle?

It’s the core of photography. When you learn it. You can do all types of photography.

Does the exposure triangle have any other effects?

Yes other than affecting the exposure. It helps in creating creative photography. Like freezing, motion blur, creating bokeh, or using grain as an artistic point of view.

What is Image Stabilisation?

IS is a mechanical feature available in the camera lens. Which helps in avoiding camera shake. You can freeze the image at slow shutter speed also like between 1/60 1/100s. IS is only found in ZOOM lens

How is the exposure triangle measured?

The elements of the exposure triangle are measured in stops. One-stop equals a doubling or halving of light.

What are the available apertures in the lens?

The usual numerical values for the f-stop are 1.4, 1.8, 2.0., 2.8, 3.6, 4, 5.6, 8, 11, 16 and 22.

What is compensation in photography?

Compensate, compensative, or compensation. You will hear this word a lot in photography. It means changing any of the exposure elements for the best exposure. Adjusting one element to full fill the required exposure. which occurred due to the other elements.

For example, You want to freeze the fast-moving subject. You set the fast shutter speed to say 1/2000s. As fast shutter speed comes with less light the image will get darker. So to full fill the darkness and get a bright image. You have to compensate it with the aperture or ISO or with both.

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