The Three Settings In The Exposure Triangle
The relationship between aperture, shutter speed, and ISO make up the exposure of a photograph. This is called the “Exposure Triangle”.
All three settings have to do with light, and each one has its own special artistic effect...
Aperture – Depth of Field
Shutter Speed – Motion
ISO - Noise & Grain
All Three Affect Each other
Since all three settings deal with the same available light, all three will affect each other! Change one, and the others are affected. This is best described by giving a few examples.
Here are two examples of how changing one setting can affect another.
1. Sports Example
If you are happy with the exposure (the overall look of the photo) but need to raise the shutter speed to better freeze the subject. You can raise shutter speed and bump up your ISO.
Raising your shutter speed is darkening the photo, bumping up your ISO is lightening it back up! The net effect is that you are getting the shutter speed you want while maintaining the exposure that you liked.
2. Landscape Example
In landscape photography, you may be happy with the exposure but need more depth of field. You can raise the f-number (aperture) and slow down your shutter speed.
Raising your aperture makes the photo darker and slowing your shutter speed is lightening it back up! The net effect is that you are getting the depth of field you want while maintaining the same exposure that you liked.
Slow Down and Think About Things
A lesson here is to first figure out which setting is most important for your desired shot. If you are shooting sports, freezing motion is important (shutter speed). If you are shooting portraits, a shallow depth of field (aperture) is important. If you are shooing product photography, then a crisp clean image without noise (ISO) is important.
Get this important first setting right, and then adjust the other two accordingly. Take a deep breath and think about what’s important and what you need to do to get the style of shot you need.
I hope you enjoyed reading through this series on The Exposure Triangle. Are you ready to take a deep dive into photography?
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