Your Life As Art – Exposure Triangle

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Welcome back! Last week we talked about the different camera modes, Aperture and Shutter Speed. I hope your practice went well and you were able to start to understand how those two modes work. If it didn’t click and you had a tough time with it, don’t worry, sometimes it is easier to work with all three pieces of the exposure triangle.


The exposure triangle is made up of 3 things; ISO, Aperture, and Shutter Speed. When shooting in manual mode, you set the three components of the exposure triangle to get proper exposure (not too dark or too light) for the type of picture you want to take (sports, portrait, sunset, etc).

In all honesty, it sounds harder than it is. Let’s break each piece of the triangle down so we know the purpose of each and how to let more or less light in to get proper exposure. Some of the shutter speed and aperture information will be a review from last week.

Shutter Speed

  • What is it? Shutter Speed gives you the ability to freeze movement or create motion blur. The higher the number, the faster the shutter speed (1/250 is higher than 1/60) and more likely you are to freeze someone running, jumping, twirling, etc.
  • How does Shutter Speed effect light? The faster the shutter speed, the less light that is being let in to your camera. The slower the shutter speed the more light is being let in to your camera.


  • What is it? Aperture give you the ability to determine how much of the image should be in focus (blurry background or everything sharp). The lower the number (f1.8), the less that is in focus. The higher the number (f11), the more that is in focus.
  • How does Aperture effect light?. Aperture is opposite when it comes to light. The smaller the number (f1.8) the more light that is let in. The larger the number (f11) the less light that is let in.


  • What is it? ISO measure the sensitivity of the image sensor in your camera. Sounds technical right? Don’t worry we aren’t going to get into the technical part. What you need to know is, ISO effects the grain or noise in your image. The lower the number (ISO 100) the finer the grain. The higher the number (ISO 1600) the more likely you are to see some grain in your picture.
  • How does ISO effect light? The smaller the number (ISO 200), the less light that is let in. The higher the number (ISO 1600) the more light that is let in.

So when you are in manual mode, you need to set all three of those to get the proper exposure for your picture. You’re probably wondering, where do I start and how do I have any idea what each number should be? In the next Your Life As Art post, I’ll share some tips to figuring out this Exposure Triangle puzzle so you can quickly determine your settings. But, do you remember in my very first Your Life As Art post, I shared that the only real way to get better was with practice, practice, practice. That will be the secret to really taking your pictures to the next level.

Life As Art Assignment #3
Find a non moving object (a child’s toy, a pet toy, a candle, a flower, etc) and go set it by a window so you get lots of light on it. Turn your camera mode to Manual. Make sure you have your manual handy incase you need it for figuring out how to set each of the different parts of the exposure triangle (ISO, Shutter Speed, Aperture). Spend some time playing in manual mode to get a properly exposed image of the item you chose.

  • If your image is too dark, you need to let more light in (lower aperture, lower shutter speed, raise ISO).
  • If your image is too bright, you need reduce the amount of light being let in (raise aperture, raise shutter speed, lower ISO)?
  • One final note, be conscious of your shutter speed to ensure it does not go too low (1/100) or you may get motion blur just from holding your camera.

Let me know how you’re doing or if you have any questions by commenting on my Facebook post.

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