The Exposure Triangle

As a photographer, I am often asked about photography and how to take photos. So, accordingly, I thought I would write an easy summary guide to the basics of how to take a photo. Including, the things to consider, the exposure triangle, and basic settings.

Check out other photography tips here:

Things to Consider

  • Why do you want to take photos?

What is your aim? What would you like to get out of photography?

  • Do you want to have some mementos from a holiday or an event, or would you like to be creative and explore the artistic side?

In order to take successful photos, you need to understand the basic science and art behind capturing a photo. If you have a phone camera, it’s all fully automated and all you need to do is point and shoot. On the other hand, if you have a digital camera e.g. Nikon, Canon, or Sony, with all the knobs and wheels, you probably don’t have a clue what it means.

Luckily for you, this post is here to explain the basic aspects!

The Exposure Triangle


  • This refers to the diameter of the hole in a camera lens.
  • A change in Aperture means a change in the size of the hole. Allowing more or less light through the lens.
  • The amount of light affects the Depth of field.
  • Also referred to as an F stop (F/#)

Shutter Speed

  • The amount of time the sensor is exposed.
  • The shutter speed is marked as fractions of a second.
  • The faster the shutter, the less light is allowed in. The slower the shutter, the more light is allowed in.
  • Slower shutters allow time for motion blur.


  • This refers to the sensitivity of the sensor in the camera. The sensor acts as a digital film.
  • The more sensitive the sensor (Higher ISO), the likelihood of digital interference is greater. This includes Chromatic abrasions, noise, and grain.
  • The lower the ISO number, the darker an image will be. The higher the number, the brighter an image will be.

Or if you would like to see this information as a photo/infographic:

the exposure triangle

Camera Settings

The automated settings on the wheel on the top of the camera, I’m only going to mention the ones you need to know to start with. In this case, M A S, and P.

It may look something like this

P ( or Full Automatic)

The Camera has full control of the settings and will judge what is best.
This is not a reliable setting as the camera doesn’t know what you want!

A or Av (Aperture priority)

The Camera has control of Shutter and ISO.
You have control of the Aperture.

S or Tv (Shutter priority)

The Camera has control of the Aperture and ISO.
Similarly to Aperture, you have control of the Shutter Speed.

M (Manual)

You are in control of all the settings! Particularly, the individual elements of the exposure triangle.

White Balance

Finally, something you should be aware of is the temperature of the picture. Additionally, different lights and different temperatures. Generally speaking: cold, neutral, and warm. These will give off blue or orange tones, changing the colour of white in an image. The White Balance is a meter to neutralise the light to cancel out the orange or the blue of a light.

AWB – Automatic White Balance

This setting is generally good enough to trust on most cameras to leave as a default, however, if it fails you, the following settings will be helpful to understand.

Weather icons usually depict when to use each setting. White Balance is measured in Kelvin (####K):

  • A higher number, the more orange is layered on the image.
  • A lower number, the more blue is layered on the image.

Hopefully, these little nuggets of information can help you on your journey to capture anything and everything! If you do have any questions about photography, camera settings, editing, and whatnot, feel free to drop me a message and I will get back to you!

And finally, happy snapping out there!


Published by Briony-Molly

Photographer & Designer. Horse Owner, Book Fanatic

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