Welcome back everyone! I took a little break last week due to the holiday. Is it just me, or does a three day weekend really throw everything out of whack?

The exposure triangle –

Now that I’ve finished the series on the three basic camera settings, I want to bring it all together and talk about the exposure triangle. As your practice your photography, you may hear people explaining the importance of the exposure triangle. The exposure triangle is made up of the three basic photography settings, which together come up with the final exposure of your photographs. These settings are Aperture, Shutter speed, and ISO. You can click those links to learn about each one.


Understanding Exposure Triangle, Cristina Elisa Photography, Learn DSLR Photography with a film girl in a digital world


Do a quick search on Pinterest or Google and you will find hundreds of cheat sheets, guides, and graphs. Since this area is so well covered, I will not dive into it here. What I will tell you is what has helped me. Initially, I tried learning how all three settings worked together and what the outcome would be. This led to lots of frustration on my part, and an even bigger misunderstanding of how the settings worked together.

Do you remember back in elementary science, doing experiments with controls and variables? This principal applies so well to photography! Consider shutter speed, aperture, and ISO your possible variables. If you change more than one at a time, you will not know what setting changed what part of the outcome right? Taking a test image will give you a reference point. You can use the test image as a basis for your control. From this point, you can decide what you need to achieve the look you want. Do you need it sharper, less blurry, brighter etc? Think about which setting could get you where you need to be, and change only that setting. Change it again if you are not quite where you need to be. You will likely notice that by fixing one problem, you may be creating another, too much noise, too bright etc. There is always another setting you can use to compensate for this. That’s how you can start to work all settings together.

Back in college, when I learned film photography, this was basically what the professor did with us. We would spend a week, maybe two on each setting until we fully understood each on it’s own. Once you understand how each setting works, you will know how to use these settings together to get the exposure & mood you want. I took each setting individually and mastered it. I got to a point where I could have a good idea of what my photo would look like based on what setting I was changing.

A few years passed between my last photography class and when I bought my first DSLR. I completely lost this concept. Once it dawned on me to do this with my DSLR, I really wish I had worked on it sooner. I would have understood my camera so much faster!

Depending how much time you have, I would spend anywhere from a day to weeks with a prime lens on your camera and focus on only one setting at a time. I suggest a prime lens because zooms can add their own variables into the mix. Dedicate a time to take photos by changing only one setting. Spend a few days per setting, and I’m sure you will quickly come to understand how each setting works. I firmly believe you cannot grasp the exposure triangle unless you have a true understanding of each setting behind it. Before you know it, it will all be intuitive!

Happy snapping 😉