What is the exposure triangle

exposure triangle illustration


Exposure is based on three elements. shutter speed, aperture size and the ISO rating of the film being used (or sensor sensitivity). Assuming we are using an ISO rated film or sensor of 200. Lets say our light meter reading is 1/125 (shutter setting) @ F11 (aperture setting). This will give us the correct exposure. 1/250 @ F 8 will give us exactly the same exposure. Which exposure setting we use depends on other creative considerations. Such as whether we want to freeze the action or show movement. Do we want a shallow depth of field or have everything in focus?

Lets say we want to freeze an action shot with no movement visible at all. We would need to select a shutter speed of 1/500 or faster. Using the exposure example given above.( 1/125 @ F11), we would need to open the aperture up to F5.6 if we wanted to use a shutter speed of 1/500. This would balance the exposure. By speeding the shutter speed from 1/125 to 1/500 we are giving the exposure 2 full stops of less exposure. To ensure the same amount of light is passing though onto the film or sensor, we need to open or increase the aperture to allow more light through. Opening the aperture by 2 stops from F11 is F5.6. see the table below. All these setting give us the same exposure.

Shutter speed aperture
1/4000 F2
1/2000 F2.8
1/1000 F5.6
1/500 F8
1/250 F11
1/125 F16
1/60 F22
1/30 F32

If there are any points you would like clarifying please leave a comment and I will gladly address them.

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About Mike Turner

Mike Turner is a professional photographer located on Wigan, Warrington border Greater Manchester specialising in social photography. Portraits, Makeovers and Commercial photography make up the bulk of Mike's work both at this studio and on location