ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Exposure Triangle? - The Exposure Pyramid of Photography

Updated on June 17, 2017

The Exposure Pyramid

There are three basic variables that help to determine how bright or dim a photo will be; shutterspeed, aperture, and ISO. The shutterspeed, the speed which the sensor or film is exposed to light, is the one variable that is thought of most often. The aperture is the diameter of the hole where light passes through. The ISO refers to the sensor or films sensitivity to light. Each of these three variables effects the way that a photograph is exposed. When used correctly, this knowledge can help to get the proper exposure to your photograph.

ISO - Sensitivity to Light

ISO was traditionally used to measure the sensitivity of film. The higher the speed of the film, the less light was needed to expose the film and capture an image. Low speed fill, with a speed of ISO 100, is used to take pictures primarily in sunny outdoor settings, or at other bright events.

ISO could not be changed easily with film cameras, it the photographer had to change the film itself. When digital SLR cameras came into existence, it become possible to change ISO on the fly, making it a viable option for photographers to change on any settings. This has been especially useful to wedding photographers, who have, on a vast majority of occasions before digital, had to waste numerous frames on a roll of film in order to get the right speed into their camera.

ISO settings can improve the ability of a photographer to take low-light photographs. Many digital cameras have settings that go to ISO 3200, or even ISO 6400. Increasing these settings will allow you to take a photograph with a smaller aperture or higher shutter speed, but it also introduces noise. When deciding whether or not to increase ISO to get a proper exposure, the photographer needs to determine whether or not noise is an acceptable element to have in the photograph.

Shutter Speed - The Time of Exposure

Shutter speed is the element of photography exposure with which most people are experienced. The shutter speed refers to the amount of time that the sensor or film is exposed to light. Whether a film camera or a digital camera is used, the premise is the same. You set the exposure to determine the amount of time light will let onto the capture mechanism.

The longer the shutter speed, the longer the light hits the sensor or film. It is measured in seconds, and is done in fractions. The photographer can take a photograph where the shutter speed is 1/8000 of a second, or where the the photographer has to choose when the shutter is closed (known as bulb mode). I have taken photographs where the shutter was open for 30 minutes.

The trade off for shutter speed is motion blur. The average shutter speed for any sort of portrait should be 1/250 of a second. This is to help prevent blur of a subject moving. There is also a general rule that says the minimum shooting speed, especially for a new photographer, should be 1/focal length. For example, if the photographer is shooting with an 800 mm lens, the shutter speed shouldn't go more then 1/800. This is to prevent the natural shake of a hand when taking a photograph.

Aperture - The Size of the Hole

Aperture is the size of a hole in relation to focal length of the lens that permits light to be inside the camera body. The size of the hole is determined by the number. The smaller the number, the larger the hole. A lens with the aperture set to 1.8 has a larger opening in the lens than a camera with an aperture set to 11.

The trade off of opening the aperture is the loss of depth of field. With a larger aperture, much less of the photograph will be in focus. This has it's merit, and is often referred to as bokeh. Sometimes, though, it is not seen as beneficial. Portraits are often taken with an aperture setting of 11. This allows the eyes to be in focus, while still keeping acceptable focus on the face. If the aperture setting is too low, then aspects of the face would be out of focus.

Using the Settings

The right exposure can be achieved with the correct settings. Changing ISO is the first step to any situation. Making sure you have the right ISO setting for the environment is helpful. If the photograph is taken in a darker environment, a higher speed is the place to start. From there, setting the aperture and shutter speed will depend on the amount of the photograph that needs to be in focus, as well as the amount of motion blur that is acceptable. Using a light meter, whether in camera or handheld, will also give you an idea of the settings needed in order to obtain the proper exposure.

Comments

Submit a Comment

No comments yet.

working

This website uses cookies

As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, hubpages.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://hubpages.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

Show Details
Necessary
HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
Features
Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
Marketing
Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
Statistics
Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)