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Understanding the Exposure Triangle (🔉 & 📘)

How Aperture, Shutter Speed, and ISO Work Together to Achieve the Perfect Exposure and Creative Control

You may have heard of it before, but in case you haven't the exposure triangle is a fundamental concept in photography and videography that explains the relationship between the three essential components of exposure: aperture, shutter speed, and ISO. Understanding the exposure triangle is crucial for achieving the correct exposure in your images and videos, as well as for creative control over the look and feel of your shots. Let's take a closer look at the three sides of the triangle and what they mean.


Aperture refers to the size of the opening in the lens through which light enters the camera. It is measured in f-stops, with lower f-stops indicating a wider aperture and higher f-stops indicating a narrower aperture. A wider aperture allows more light to enter the camera, which is useful in low light conditions or when you want to create a shallow depth of field. A shallow depth of field creates a sharp focus on the subject while blurring the background, which can be a desirable effect in portrait and product photography.

On the other hand, a narrower aperture allows less light to enter the camera, which is useful in bright conditions or when you want to achieve a greater depth of field, which can be utilised really nicely in landscape photography.

Shutter Speed

The shutter speed is the length of time the camera's shutter is open, allowing light to enter and reach the sensor or film. It is measured in seconds or fractions of a second. A slower shutter speed allows more light to enter the camera. This is good for low light conditions, but can also lead to issues such blurry images. A faster shutter speed reduces the amount of light entering the camera - perfect for bright conditions or when you want to capture things in motion, such as people performing or wildlife.


ISO refers to the sensitivity of the camera's sensor or film to light. It is measured in numbers, with higher numbers indicating greater sensitivity to light. A higher ISO is useful in low light conditions or when you want to capture fast-moving subjects. However, a higher ISO may introduce digital noise, which can degrade image quality and leave images unusable. Therefore, a good tip is to use the lowest ISO possible to achieve the desired exposure.

Each side makes a difference

The three elements of the exposure triangle are interconnected and often affect each other. Changing one of these settings will impact the others and the overall exposure of the image. For example, if you increase the aperture to allow more light into the camera, you will need to adjust the shutter speed or ISO to maintain the correct exposure.

Understanding the exposure triangle is critical for achieving proper exposure, but it also offers opportunities for creative control. You can create dynamic images by adjusting these settings and seeing what the results are. Why not take photos with a soft and dreamy effect by combining a wide aperture with a slow shutter speed? Alternatively, you can create a sharp image by using a fast shutter speed and a narrow aperture. Another tip is to add a vintage feel to your photos by using a high ISO. This can also be used to create a gritty feel to images, so why not experiment and see what you can create?

Master the triangle

Ultimately, the exposure triangle is a fundamental concept that can make a huge difference to the images you create. By understanding the concepts and by experimenting with what is possible, you can quickly forge a signature photography style that leads to some truly spectacular images.

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