The Exposure Triangle (Exposure (ISO), Aperture and Shutter Speed) for the absolute beginner.

This can often be the most difficult part of taking photos for beginners, the exposure triangle.

So when I thought about writing a blog post again, I was doing some research and found a great article that website that explained it very well.

I will only explain these points briefly. And for a more thorough explanation, I would ask you to head on over to read this article with some helpful images.  

My suggestion is to print out this diagram, put it with your camera, and take it with you when you are out taking photos.

To explain briefly then, these three factors determine everything.

ISO/Exposure is how sensitive the camera sensor is to light; a high ISO will allow you to take photos even in very low light, but there will be more digital noise (“grainy”). Lower ISOs are better for crisper images, but not always possible. Depending on your camera, and the sensor, depends on how high you can go in ISO before grain starts to creep in to the shadows and dark spots on your image.

Aperture determines the size of the physical opening to the lens. A larger number means there’s a smaller hole letting light in, but it also results in more of the background being sharp and in focus.

A smaller number means the iris has a larger opening, so background objects appear out of focus and more light comes in and shortens the exposure times.

This is where you hear the term, “Depth of field” come into play.

Shutter Speed is how long the shutter remains open for. Leaving the shutter record an image for a longer time will show motion in a photo and let in more light, while a short time will show a single moment in time.

Adjusting one, without adjusting the other always has an effect on your image. It’s up to you to determine what looks best to you, and that takes practice.

You could always come out and practice with us on one of our workshops for beginners. All the details about those workshops can be found here,

To read the full article on using the exposure triangle, please read this post,


Kevin A Pepper

Kevin is a photographer and educator based in Waterloo, Ontario. His first love is photographing nature, regardless of the season or weather condition; the Ontario landscape and its wildlife are his inspiration. But you will also see other styles of photography in his portfolio. From street photography to urban exploration of abandoned buildings and architecture, he loves to capture it all with his camera for his corporate clients and his growing personal portfolio. Kevin’s images have been featured in Canadian Nature Photographer, PHOTONews Canada, Photo Technique Magazine, The London Free Press, The Weather Network, and National Geographic Online. His diverse client list includes the City of Cambridge, Olympus, GORE Mutual, TVO, and African Lion Safari. Kevin also operates “Northof49 Photography”, a company launched in 2012 dedicated to teaching amateur photographers through International and Canadian-based workshops. In the coming year, Kevin will be leading workshops in Iceland, Mongolia, Tanzania, Venezuela, Provence, and numerous destinations across Canada. Website: