Learning how to use your camera in manual can be confusing, challenging yet rewarding. To photograph with the correct exposure you have to understand the exposure triangle. The exposure triangle is made up of three camera settings; Shutter Speed, Aperture and ISO. These three settings allow you to produce the correct exposure for your photograph. In order to have complete control over your camera, you must understand the importance of the exposure triangle in photography.

What is the exposure triangle?

As mentioned the exposure triangle is made up of three settings; shutter speed, aperture, ISO. These three settings are essential to taking a photograph. The way your camera will take a photograph is it will read the light let into its sensor and develop an image from that light that has been let through. This light must be measured accurately, this is done by measuring how long the light will be exposed to the sensor (shutter speed), how much light will be exposed to the sensor (aperture) and how sensitive the sensor is (ISO).

By accurately applying the correct information to these three settings you will be able to create a perfectly exposed photograph. However, when you change your shutter speed, you will also need to change your aperture or ISO. For example, if you are letting in more light using the aperture, then you will need to let in for a shorter period of time (shutter speed) or reduce the sensitivity of the sensor (ISO). This is why it is called an exposure triangle, if you are to change one of the settings, you will also need to change another setting to compensate for that change.

It is important to note that there is not one correct exposure setting. For one lighting situation there can be hundreds if not thousands of variations which will allow you to correctly expose your photograph. This is where your style of photography will come into play. When a photographer is choosing their camera settings it is causing a visual effect to the photograph. If you photograph at a wide open aperture then your background will be blurry, if you are photographing at a slow shutter speed then you will have motion blur. Choosing your settings essentially captures the artistic style that you produce.

The Camera Settings

In order to understand the exposure triangle, you first need to understand what the camera settings are. These settings are the ways in which you control your camera. The main camera settings include; ISO, Aperture and Shutter Speed. Here is a brief summary of the camera settings:

ISO – indicates the sensitivity of light to your sensor.

Aperture – Aperture controls the amount of light allowed in through the lens and onto the sensor.

Shutter Speed – indicates the time, in seconds, that your camera will allow the light to hit the sensor.

I have provided links to my other blogs which discuss and explain in detail what each of these settings are.


Understanding the exposure triangle is extremely important. However, even more, important to this is understanding the settings that the exposure triangle is made up of. I would highly recommend that your ready and understand my other blogs on ISO, Shutter Speed and Aperture so that you can become a professional at using your camera on manual.