Understanding the Exposure Triangle

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Lesson 5: Understanding the Exposure Triangle


If you want to take great photos, you need to understand exposure and the Exposure Triangle is the foundation of photography. If you’re new to photography, you can get away with taking respectable pictures right out of the box using automatic settings. However, if you want to produce quality images, then you need to have a solid grasp of this basic concept before you move on to the next level. Look at it this way; exposure is to the photographer, what measuring is to a carpenter. It’s an essential skill. Understanding what exposure is, and how it works, is an important first step in becoming a good photographer.

What Is the Exposure Triangle?

Exposure in photography is all about light, and the process of controlling how much light hits the digital sensor in your camera to produce an image. You could say exposure is kind of an umbrella term for controlling the lightness or darkness of a photo. In exposure, there are three main ingredients or elements that work together: Aperture, Shutter Speed, and ISO.


 The Exposure Triangle is described as the foundation for photography. Once you understand how the exposure triangle works, you’ll be able to take better photos by using the various settings on your camera.


In this first video by Mark Wallace for Adorama TV, introduces the basic concepts behind the Exposure Triangle. He provides a high level overview of aperture, shutter, and ISO, and how they work together.

Understanding Exposure Part 1

Understanding Exposure Part 2: The Exposure Triangle with Mark Wallace.

In Part 2 of Mark’s video, he explains stops (or f-stops), which is a measure of exposure relating to the doubling or halving of the amount of light.

Understanding Exposure Part 3: The Exposure Triangle with Mark Wallace

In the third video, Mark Wallace explains how aperture and lens choice affect depth-of-field (DOF).



Exposure Triangle Part 4 – Shutter Speed: Exploring Photography with Mark Wallace

Exposure Triangle in Practice: Exploring Photography with Mark Wallace

In the forth and last video, Mark puts the exposure triangle into practice on the streets of South Africa.


NEXT STEP: Lesson #6: Understanding ISO Sensitivity


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