Exposure Triangle - Learn How To Shoot In Manual Mode

Learn How To Use Your Camera In Manual Mode | A Beginner's Guide To Exposure Triangle

how to use Exposure Triangle

If you are a beginner, then the terms like Exposure Triangle or manual Mode can really make you feel overwhelmed. But as a Deep Tech Firm that has closely been working with some of the best photographers in the country for the past years, we here at Spyne are here to help you understand what the exposure triangle is, while simultaneously teaching you how to use your camera in the manual mode. 

And before we proceed with the blog, the difference between auto mode and manual mode is that, in auto mode, the camera thinks for you while taking into consideration the current lighting conditions. But in manual mode, it's the photographer who has complete control over the camera. Hence, every professional photographer uses manual mode instead of being dependent on the camera. And if you are someone who is planning to excel in this field, then you too need to learn how to use the manual mode on your camera confidently. So to start off with something basic.

What Is Exposure Triangle In Photography?

Exposure Triangle In Photography

(Source: PetaPixel)

Exposure if more of a metaphorical triangle, whose 3 sides help us get the perfect exposure for our pictures. The manual mode of a camera basically has 3 main settings that allow it to click an image with the desired exposure level. And as you might know, the 3 main settings in the manual mode of a camera are Aperture, Shutter Speed, and ISO. And to make you understand the significance of each and every side of this triangle, let us see how a camera takes an image.

How Does A Camera Work?

How Does manual mode work in Camera?
(Source: PhotographyLife)

Also Read: What is a 360-degree camera? Should you buy it

In DSLRs, the light enters through the lens and hits different mirrors before reaching the viewfinder. And if we decide to capture a shot, the first mirror that is placed at an angle of 45 degrees, flips up and lets the light hit the images sensor. When this happens, the images sensor collects all the optical information and converts it into a digital signal. And that is how it is stored in a memory card. And since you have got the basic gist of the working of a DSLR, it will be much easier for you to understand all the elements that make the photo look the way it turns out to be. 

Understanding The Different Sides Of The Exposure Triangle

As we said, the exposure triangle consists of the 3 main camera settings that every photographer should know about if he/she wants full control over how their images look. Hence here are the 3 sides of the Exposure Triangle

Side 1: Aperture 

Aperture is basically the opening of the lens, and it is measured in f stops. For Example, f/1.8 and f/16. You can consider these to be aperture openings at the two different ends of the spectrum. And so that you are not mistaken. F/1.8 is an aperture opening which will be wider than f/16. and this will be easier to understand with the formula with which the f/stop is calculated.

F/Stop = Focal Length/Diameter

So in simpler and more practical terms, a wider aperture (f/1.8 or f/2.4) will allow more light to reach your sensor through the lens, which gives you a brighter image when compared to shooting with a higher f/stop number while other aspects of the manual mode remain the same. How Does A Camera Work?

(Source: PhotographyLife)

But that is not all, not only the apertural decide the amount of light that enters the lens but it also determines the depth of field of your image.

What Is Depth Of Field?

Depth Of Field is basically the measure of how much of a scene can be in your camera's focus at one time. We all have seen those shallow depth of field portrait shots, where except for the subject's face, everything else in the image is blurred. This is one of the best examples of a shallow depth of field shot. And here is how the depth of field changes with the change in the aperture opening, the wider aperture openings (f/1.8 or f/2.4) result in shallower depths of field (only a small area in focus) and smaller aperture openings give you a wider depth of field (more area in focus). Here is a visual that will help you understand how aperture opening and depth of field are associated. 

(Source: Fstoppers)

Side 2: Shutter Speed

Shutter Speed if the amount of time the image sensor will be exposed to the light. Shutter Speed is measured in seconds, for example, 30 or even 1/30 (30th of a second). Here, clearly, 1/30 second shutter speed is much faster than a 30-second shutter speed. 

(Source: PhotographyLife)

And as you can tell, a slower shutter speed will result in a much brighter image. However, using a slow shutter speed is not advised unless you are using a tripod. And this is due to the fact that a slower shutter speed can cause you to take shaky or even blur images. But capturing a photo with a slower camera is not a bad thing, people use it all the time to click some unbelievable images. Images clicked with a slower shutter speed are called Long Exposure Shots (because the sensor is exposed to the light for a longer period of time). And you should definitely go and check out our recent blog on Long Exposure Photography.

Side 3: ISO

ISO is the overall sensitivity of the camera sensor towards the light. Which means a higher ISO speed will give you a brighter image. 

(Source: PhotographyLife)

But we only wish it was that simple. Increasing the ISO of the image sensor not only makes your image look brighter, but it also introduces noise to the image. Most cameras start to show noise and grains in images at 400 ISO unless we are talking about some of the most advanced professional cameras that are made to work seamlessly in dark and tricky lighting conditions. 


Hence, the 3 sides of the exposure triangle are:

Aperture: Controls the opening of the lens

Shutter Speed: Controls the duration of light for which the sensor is exposed to the light, and 

ISO: Controls the sensitivity of the camera sensor towards the light. 

All these settings of the camera need to work together, as different elements of a well-oiled machine, to capture the exact image that you desire. And if you liked this, we here at Spyne publish content regularly that you can find in our Blogs section.

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Written By - Ranvijay Singh on 27 Oct, 2020