Thursday, August 12, 2010


Are you done reading all the three components of the exposure triangle? If the answer is a big, loud scream of “YYYEEEESSS!!!!!!!”, then here it is! The blog that you’ve been waiting for! (I hope...)

To make it easy for you, I made you this CHEAT SHEET:

-high number = more sensitive to light
-low number = less sensitive to light
*Special characteristic:
-higher number causes NOISE

-high denominator = faster, therefore, less light hits the lens
-low denominator = slower, therefore, more light hits the lens
*Special characteristic:
-high shutter speed freezes movement
-low shutter speed blurs movement

-big aperture = lets in more light
-small aperture = lets in less light
*Special characteristic:
- big apertures cause shallow DOF

Okay. If get confused during the tutorial, simply look up at the CHEAT SHEET above okay? Okay. Let’s start.

Whenever I’m about to shoot something, I do these:

1. I set my ISO based on ambient light (again, ambient light is the available light).

-use this formula:
SUNNY = 200

Again, the formula above isn’t perfect. You have to adjust it based on the location. But at least you have a ballpark figure of where to start.

2. I try to look at what I am shooting. Is it moving or is it still?
-I do this simply because if the subject is moving, you probably want to freeze the moment. You use a fast shutter speed. If the subject is still, you may want to blur the background to make it stand out. If so, you use bigger aperture.

3. You now do some brain squeezing!

Please “listen” to my brain and how it thinks to give you an idea of how to manipulate all of the components.


“Damn, I hate this party... It’s so boring! Ugh! I should’ve stayed at home and watched Spongebob Squarepants... Well, at least I have my camera to keep me busy. Hmmm... This hors d’ oeuvre is disgusting as hell but it certainly looks good! Interesting enough. Okay. I’ll take a beautiful, artistic picture that totally negates the disgustingly, gut-wrenching, awful taste.

Okay. We’re indoors. ISO = 800. Done. I think this food will look good if the background is blurred. I’ll set my aperture to the biggest. (by the way, the lower the number, the bigger the aperture gets. Again, I know, it’s confusing...) Shutter speed. I’ll start at 1/60th of a second.”

*presses the shutter release button*

“Damn that’s dark! I guess even at the widest aperture, the light is still not enough... Okay. I’ll make my shutter speed slower so I’ll let in more light. I’ll set it to 1/20th of a second.”

*presses the shutter release button*

“Hmmmm... Better. But it is still underexposed (dark image) a bit... I think I’ll set it to 1/10th of a second.”

*presses the shutter release button*

“Whoa! It’s blurry! Oh yeah... Camera shake... The shutter speed is too slow that’s why it registered even the slight movement of my hands. Okay. Since my shot earlier was 1/20 of a second and it’s not blurry, I’ll stick to that. But wait, my shot earlier was dark... And I can’t make my aperture larger anymore because it already reached its limit... Hmmm... Aha ! I know what to do! I’ll set my ISO to 1000! Bigger number means more sensitivity to light! It’ll make my shot look brighter!"

*presses the shutter release button*

“Okay. Needs more light. I’ll set my ISO to 1250.”

*presses the shutter release button*

“There we go! Just right! Now all I have to do is to post this on Flickr... I think the title: YUMMY YET YUCKY is apt. Hehehehe.”


“Hey what’s that noise? My friend’s son is playing with their dog by the swing! That’s so cute!” Eric goes outside. “Okay. Since it’s 5pm already and the sky is not bright and not yet dim, I think I’ll go with 600 on my ISO. Okay. Done. I want to capture the movement of the kid tickling the dog on the tummy. Hmmm. I think I’ll start with the shutter speed of 1/100. As for the aperture, I think I’ll go for the widest to let in more light since the sun is already starting to set."

*presses the shutter release button*

“Hmmm... It’s dark and blurry. Well, I can’t adjust the aperture anymore so it’s up to the shutter speed and the ISO. Okay. First things first. The blur. I think I need to adjust it to around 1/160. But it will only make my picture darker... Okay. I’ll set my ISO to 1600 to make it more sensitive to the light. To hell with the noise. I’ll just try to remove it in Photoshop or Lightroom.”

*presses the shutter release button*

“Hmmm... It’s a bit overexposed(the image is bright). And the image is still blurry... Okay. I got it now! If I make my shutter speed faster, it will make the image a bit darker because the light has less time to hit the sensor and at the same time, it will fix the blur because the faster the shutter, the more it freezes the action in the photograph! Nice! Okay. I’ll set it to 1/200.”

*presses the shutter release button*

“Awesome! Just right!”

I hope my example above didn’t confuse you. If I were you, I wouldn’t memorize the functions and the special characteristics of each of the component of the exposure triangle because everything you memorize can easily be forgotten. Instead, I suggest you analyze it, and understand the principle so you’ll know it by heart because you don’t forget the things that you understand. Imagination is the key.

That’s why you forget the name of your friend whom you haven’t seen for years even though you recognize him/her. It’s because humans memorize names. You don’t forget the face because you can still imagine the fun (or awful) things that you did when you were still together.

Now if you're still confused, don't worry. Next time I'm going to teach you about Priority Modes. It's a lot easier than manual but you still have control over your pictures. Class dismissed! =)