When creating images we are working with three main elements; shutter speed, aperture, and ISO, all which create the exposure triangle. As photographers our hope is to master the exposure triangle, giving us the skills we need to create master images. Each of the elements of the exposure triangle work together to bring your desired result.

Before we talk about the specific components of the exposure triangle I want to point out that the exposure triangle comes together through the reading of your light meter in your camera and each camera's light meter is different. Each meter will have it's own level of sensitivity and it's own sweet spot.


Apertures is how wide or open the lens is inside.  The aperture does two things; creates a wide or narrow depth of field and lets in more or less light.

Low f-numbers create a greater opening in the lens letting in lots of light. Most people find themselves shooting in with low f-numbers because they are drawn to the blurry bokeh backgrounds. The tricky thing about these low f-numbers is that they have to be well balanced to create sharp images. If your shooting with a low f-number and your the subject is far away, then you may end up with an image that isn't as sharp.

High f-numbers create a smaller opening in the lens letting less light in. When the opening is small, you are able to achieve a greater depth of field. These high f-numbers allow for more of the picture to be in focus. A lot of landscape photos are shot with the high f-numbers, that way you can see all the beautiful details in the photo.


Shutter speed how how long the shutter stays up, allowing for more or less light to reach the sensor. Faster shutter speeds (higher numbers) allow for less light to reach the sensor while slow shutter speeds (low numbers) allow for more light to reach the sensor.

Faster shutter speeds (high numbers) are often associated with stop motion. If you want to capture fast moving subjects and have sharp images you want a faster shutter speed (high number.) Capturing movement in water is a great example of the use of a slow shutter speed (low number.) The shutter is open longer allowing for the sensor to receive more light and capture the movement in the water.


ISO is your camera's sensitivity to light. Out of each of these elements ISO took me the longest to add to my exposure triangle. There are two ranges in ISO, a high sensitivity to light and a low sensitivity to light. The lower your ISO the less sensitive, the higher the ISO the more sensitive.  Generally when I'm outside I use a low ISO. If I'm inside where there is less light I use a high ISO. The one down side of using a high ISO is that that higher your ISO the more grain/noise can be in your images. Some may like added grain for a more artsy look, but if you're trying to stay away from having grainy photos stick with a low ISO.


Let's chat about balancing all three. First determine your ISO. Are you outside with lots of light? Are you inside where light isn't as present? Are you sitting around a campfire where the light is dimming? If your outside with lots of light choose a low ISO. There have been times when I have chosen the lowest ISO setting possible when outside on a sunny day. If your inside with less light or outside in the evening choose a higher ISO. Your camera's ISO will have it's own range, start anywhere between 400 and 800 and take a few test shots. If there is too much grain or noise in your photos, dial it back a few numbers.

Next, choose your aperture. What are you taking photos of? Are you taking portraits where you want to bring out your subject? Or are you capturing landscape? If your shooting portraits start with an aperture of f2.0 or f2.2 and play around to see what you like best. If you're shooting landscape start about f11 or f16. Shooting landscapes are not my forte, so check out this article for more details of the best aperture for landscapes.

Last, choose your shutter speed. By this time, you've determined where and what your shooting and your aperture and ISO. With all these elements in place it's about dialing in your shutter to allow for the amount of light you need and the sharpness of your image. This determination will take place while reading your camera's meter. Keep in mind that your shutter speed will determine the sharpness of our image so you want all these elements to come together to create a beautiful image.

Whew, we did it! We took apart the exposure triangle and how all three elements work together to create an amazing image. Understanding the exposure triangle is a great place to start when beginning your photography journey. It gives you a great jumping off point to start creating great photos!

Guys, I would love to see if your using these tips for your photos! Hashtag #ElahTreePhotoTips if you do so I can check out your amazing photos!