Understanding the Exposure Triangle can be frustrating at the start but after a time will become second nature. The golden principle: keep in mind that everything is a balance. It is for us as the brain of the camera, to use the creative settings to get the camera to record the image we wish to capture.

[embedyt] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YJ1kEI_-kzY[/embedyt]

As a very short & simple summary, we can think of each setting as the following:

  • Shutter Speed: Capturing Motion

  • Aperture: Detail & Depth

  • ISO: Quality / Gain

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If you change one setting – you have to change another to maintain the same light levels hitting the sensor. Working out why an image is too dark or too light can be the difference in making an image better or worse.

The images below are from the Shutter Speed blog – they show the difference between an image that is out of focus (below right) and an image with motion blur (below left). Being able to spot these problems and fix them is the first step to mastering the camera and the manual settings.

Increasing the aperture, lengthening the shutter and increasing the ISO all will have an effect of giving a brighter exposure. Decreasing the size of the aperture, limiting the shutter time and decreasing the ISO will have an effect that they darken the exposure. This is pretty simple to understand but the challenging aspect is working out the creative balance of which settings to change and which settings to not change.

We should always remember that, strictly speaking, ISO is NOT a part of the exposure equation but is a part of the Exposure Triangle.  The easy way to think of this is that ISO is not a creative setting.

The formal photography textbooks put it like this:

  • H=E x T
  • (H) Exposure = irradiance x time

Irradiance (E)

  • Amount of light falling on a unit area of a sensor per second (measured in lumins)
  • Controlled by the Aperture

Exposure Time (T)

  • in Seconds
  • Controlled by the Shutter

ISO only comes in to play when the result of this equation hits the sensor. The more amplified the sensor needs to be, the more static you have, which we call grain, or noise. It’s just the same as the buzz you get when you turn the TV up really loud when nothing is on, that’s static you can hear. It’s the result of the digital sensor being pushed to max.

Keeping it simple.

The SUPER easy way to make sense of this all is to use a cheat sheet – like the one I find on the internet. It shows how each element is as important as the next, and getting around to mastering each element sometimes can take a while. This cheat card – made by Hamburger Photospots is the best and clearest way to describe what the elements of the Exposure Triangle do.


Each element has it’s own blog post – click the image to read about how each element can be controlled and the effect it has on your final image.

Learning how to control the cameras overall exposure levels by balancing out the corners of the triangle is one of the best things to focus on when learning to use a camera, but, we do have the auto modes to think about – if we want to use them.

Auto Modes:

Pretty much all cameras that have manual mode will have some semi-auto modes too. On the Fujifilm system, you can set each one to the ‘A setting’ on the dial for which you want the camera to look after for you. For example, on the X-Pro2 or X100 cameras just set all the dials to ‘A’ and you will have a fully auto camera. Each model will have its own variation to find these settings.

If you want to learn more about these semi-auto levels and how to fully use Auto-ISO settings – check out one of the many workshops that Fujiholics put on up and down the UK each year.

Check out this video which shows how the Auto-modes are working and the difference between them and shooting fully manual.

[embedyt] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9Ln2YluJd4o[/embedyt]

Want to know my settings:

Being a photographer who uses an additive lighting style, (read more here), I regularly get asked about my camera settings for flash.

The image below looks quite complex – but in regards to the camera, it is a very simple set up.

write in your exhif data

Top tips for the studio:

  1. Keep your ISO at the lowest setting (iso 200)
  2. Stay inside your flash sync speeds (250th or lower)
  3. If you need more light – add more light – don’t adjust the camera
  4. Adjust the light – not the camera – unless you have to.
  5. Tripods are super helpful.
  6. If you are using lower apertures you will need very little light or ND filters
  7. F8, ISO 200, 200th with an average power flash is a good baseline – but many factors can change.
  8. Don’t drag your shutter.
  9. Lower ISO’s give better colour.
  10. Have fun and get creative !!

Read this if you want to know more about lighting & Fujifilm cameras :

Lighting with Dave Kai Piper

To read more – Click on the other pages linked to this blog post.

Extra reading – Marc Levoys lectures are very intense, but if you are looking for a more technical explanation of how photography works and the maths & equations behind it check out this link for a full comprehensive set of lectures. https://sites.google.com/site/marclevoylectures/