* New to using your camera?
* Not sure how to control the end result of your photos
* Not sure what’s meant by the term ‘Exposure Triangle?
….well many of us have been there, so let me demystify these statements.
* New to your camera is an easy one as many manufacturers have excellent support services and of course there is always YouTube. One tip I would offer is to download a pdf version on your camera manual to aid photo taking during travel, that way you can bore your guests at parties (only joking). Another really useful tip is to practice adjusting camera settings during your down time. Might seem a bit silly but it could help when you need to react quickly to impromptu moments; the more you get to grips with the settings the more you will be able to take control of your camera.
* Controlling the end results of your photos comes in two main parts. The first relates too using the most suitable camera settings during picture taking and the second takes place when you dip into using editing software. (See my last post of editing workflows for guidance). You could, of course, just use ‘auto’ but that can turn round and ‘bite you’ during difficult situations as the camera is making a guess as to what’s needed; useful only sometimes. So let’s look now at the ‘mystical’ Exposure triangle.
Before you start looking into all the menu options on your camera I can tell with absolute certainty that there aren’t any settings marked ‘Exposure triangle’...so how do you get to it? Well the short answer is you can’t. The exposure triangle is the name given to how the three main camera settings interact with one another; thus the exposure triangle in practice this means taking control of…
* The setting used to adjust the camera lens (i.e. the aperture)
* The setting used to adjust the camera speed (i.e. the Shutter Speed)
* The setting used to adjust the light level adjustments (i.e. the ISO, or in film speak, the old ASA)
These three settings interact with each other and, while it may sound confusing, once you master the ‘triangle ‘ you will be able to take on almost any photo situation.
So how do the three settings relate to each other? When you look at your exposure meter on your camera you should be trying make adjustments so the ‘needle’, ‘led light’ or whatever is in the middle of the scale. Well to help see the exposure triangle in action, try these steps
* Make some adjustments first so that exposure “thingy” is around the middle of the scale.
* Then adjust the lens aperture until the meter is off-center.
* Next adjust the shutter speed up or down to bring the meter “thingy” back to center but leaving the aperture as it was.
* Now re adjust the lens back again leaving the shutter speed as it was and then adjust the ISO setting up or down.
So what’s happened? Each one of these three settings has had a bearing on each other and thus the type of photo you will get. Apart from the fact that each setting can make a difference on your photos individually you should see that you have a lot of choice over the control
On the diagram shown here the term DOF (depth of field) relates to amount of picture that will be in focus. In other words how much of the background or foreground each side of your main subject will be in focus. F22 = lots and f1.2 = not very much.
The shutter speed relates to how long the camera shutter is open. The longer it's open i.e. 1 or 2 seconds the blurrier the subject will be. The shorter the time its open i.e. 1/250 the more chance you have of ‘freezing’ the action.
The ISO (i.e. International Standards Organisation) is now the digital standard for the old ASA (American Standards Association). You may have seen the ASA rating on film packs ranging from 50–400 ASA well the higher and lower numbers on each scale mean the same. 50 ISO = is used to help produce a very fine detailed image whereas 64000 could give a very course looking image. Now this brings us back to the Triangle. Hopefully you can see that if you want to use ISO 50 then you will need to change the other settings. Using 64000 will allow you to take photos in very low light without the being too blurry but the image may be less sharp. For those who have experience of film grain and have seen its varying effects, this will help explain the difference between the high and low numbers.
You’ve now seen the relationship of the three setting to each other and therefore seen the ‘exposure triangle’ in action. This now should give you an idea of how you can effect’s the end result of your photos in camera. I would suggest that to see the effects of each of the settings that you take a set of photos of the same subject but each time you make changes within the triangle, even viewing them on the camera rear screen will show up the differences……. you are now a triangle “ninja”.
Thanks for reading.
Terence Jones ARPS
A photography enthusiast with a long and varied interest in taking pictures.
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