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Understanding the Exposure Triangle

The digital camera is the one of the complicated device. When I brought my first DSLR camera, I don’t know how use it to get impactful photographs. At the beginning I start to spend my time with camera, capturing meaningless photos all day. Every day I do mistakes and after some time I learn from my mistakes and when I managed to work it all out, I started taking some spectacular photographs.


As beginner photographers, I firstly intend to learn about my camera and how it works.

I usually share and show my best photographs to different photographer community where I got suggestion from photographer around the globe.

Photographing is basically painting with light usually with digital sensor. You need right amount of light to correctly photograph. The correct amount of light is called Exposure value in photography language.

There is three basic way of controlling the exposure value and these three are interdependent on each other.

  • Shutter speed

Shutter speed is referring to the time period for which your camera sensor remains open to light. The amount of time is called shutter speed. The slower the shutter speed lets more light in. the slower the shutter speed let less light in.

When we press shutter release button, the lens shutter opens and fully exposes the camera sensor to the light that has passed through your lens. After the sensor is done collecting the correct amount of light, the shutter closes immediately, stopping the light from hitting the sensor.

We measure Shutter speeds in fractions of a second, when they are under a second. For example 1/4 means a quarter of a second, while 1/300 means one three-hundred of a second. Some professional DSLRs cameras can handle shutter speeds of up to 1/4000th of a second, while some can handle much quicker speeds of 1/8000th of a second and faster. On the other hand, the longest available shutter speed on most DSLRs cameras is up to 30 seconds.

Shutter speed can be used creatively for two main features firstly to freeze motion. If you are using fast shutter speed, you can eliminate motion even from fast-moving objects, like birds/plane in flight, or cars driving.  You use a fast shutter speed while taking pictures of water, each droplet will hang in the air completely sharp, which might not even be visible to our own eye. Second is the long exposure or slow shutter photography where you let your camera sensor open for a long time, specially helpful in capturing waterfall etc

  • Aperture

 Aperture is the hole inside the lens through which light travel to your camera sensor. Aperture is the iris in the lens that can be adjusted in size to control the amount of light passes thought lens.  A large aperture (a wide opening) and low f/number will pass a lot of light, resulting in a brighter photograph. A small aperture (narrow opening) and high f/number will pass less light, making a photo darker. Aperture measure number in the foam of f/stops such as f/2.8, f/15 etc.

  • ISO

One of the three pillars of exposure triangle is camera ISO. ISO controls the brightness/sensitivity of your photos. The higher the ISO number greater the light sensitivity and the less light is required to expose the image. A photo taken at highest ISO (1600 or 3200) will show a lot of grain, also known as noise.

Once you understand how each one of these works, you can start diving into manual or semi manual mode where you control all these three by yourself. Where you take control from your camera. The exposure triangle is a great way to remember the three settings. When combined, they control the amount of light captured from any given scene. This will help you to understand that changing one setting will necessitate a change in the others. That is if you are photographing the same scene with the same exact lighting conditions.

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