In this Photography blog,

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I want to try and explain photography as simple as possible.H

ow to learn the triangle and the fundamentals of what each of these values consists of.

Learn what they do in the easiest of terms possible and how to change them for the scene you are shooting. I could go into greater detail of each of these but for now, let’s try and keep it as simple as possible OK!!

Learning how to use a camera and especially getting out of auto mode and into the creative modes on your camera can be tough,

I wish there was an easier way to help you out of the full-auto mode of your camera, but the truth is, there is not, It is simply a few factors to understand It is what is known as the Photography Triangle. (see image) I will try my best to explain it in the easiest of terms ok,

The Triangle consists of the fundamentals of everything that governs photography,

learning this is key,

knowing this, inside out, backward and forwards and understanding it is all you should be doing if you are serious about getting out of full auto and using the expensive camera you bought to its full potential,

Your camera is capable of doing wonderful things,

It can see a lot more than our eyes can, but it needs help, it needs someone to be able to operate it and bring out the best in it, it is only by understanding the triangle one can understand how to use the controls of the camera,

Know what each control is doing, and in doing so, reflects the images and the style they are going for.

So in my own opinion, the quick way out of full auto is to switch the mode of your camera to APERTURE PRIORITY MODE, in most cameras that is AV mode or in some just A mode, and this is what we are going to talk about today, just this mode, but first the triangle.

Photography Triangle
Photography Triangle


  1. ISO

The above 3 combined used correctly give you the perfect exposure,
I will explain these in the most simple of terms, so let us say you have flipped the mode of your camera into AV (APERTURE PRIORITY ),

In this mode we only have to worried about two of the values of the triangle, well we only have control over two of the values of the triangle, the value the camera sets automatically is shutter speed, We have to worry about all three values, but in this mode, the camera automatically sets the shutter speed value for us depending on what we have set the other two values.


The amount of light that is hitting your sensor, or how sensitive your sensor is to the light that is hitting it,

Think about grain and noise in your image.

Right, when you look at a low light image and see millions of tiny little dots, this is where iso comes in.

During the middle of the day great light and amazing sunshine. The best iso for your camera to be at is iso100. Some amazing cameras today can actually go as low as iso50.

So the lower the iso value the less noise is going to be in your picture.

BUT !!! It is not always possible to keep your camera at ISO100 even when you are out in great sunshine.

Because when you move the camera around THE SCENE some places will be darker than others. Like if you move the camera around and it is now facing the shadows of trees then the light coming through your lens and hitting the sensor is from a dark area.

Obviously right. So this is why ISO is important, easiest of terms to understand this is, LIGHT. Whatever your camera is facing is there enough light. Remember photography does not work without light.

Is there enough light at the time of the day your shooting. Are you in a church or a room or is light fading during the day? Photography doesn’t work without light !!!.

There has to be light coming from somewhere in order for you to get the desired image.

So out during the day, let’s say 12 noon, you are at iso100. You turn the camera towards the trees and now you’re facing the dark shadows and not getting sharp images. Or you placed your model in the shade and the sunlight isn’t hitting her iso100 will not do here.

You need to boost the iso to accommodate the situation your shooting, in other words. You need to make your sensor more sensitive to light by boosting the iso required for the situation you find yourself in.

If you are shooting indoors let’s say a church, not a lot of ambient light in there, iso100 will never do in this situation, you need to boost the iso up as much as it takes to allow the correct shutter speed, Remember that last line, please,

ISO—-CORRECT SHUTTER SPEED this takes me into no2 on the triangle

High Iso-Noise in your image

High Iso-Noise in your image


In AV mode shutter speed is automatically set for you, and by increasing or decreasing the iso the shutter speed goes up and down in this mode, likewise, if you increase aperture in this mode, your shutter speed will go up and down, when you change one value of the triangle the other two will be affected,

Shutter speed is simple to understand when u press the shutter button on your camera and hear that click, that is your shutter, how quickly you hear the click is the speed,

Shutter speed is how fast the light gets through your lens and hits your sensor before the shutter comes down.

(remember photography doesn’t work without the light coming from somewhere)

There is no point in me telling you that some shutter speeds can go up to 1/8000 of a second if you don’t understand why shutter speed is important from the start.

Or that shutter speed can help you create dramatic styles in images if you don’t understand why shutter speed is important, by speeding up and slowing down shutter speed you can control so much, But let’s start at the start.

There is a golden rule in photography,

your shutter speed should always be faster than the length of the lens you are using, shutter value on your camera is shown like this one over the speed like this 1/50 or 1/200

Example. you are using a 70-200 lens, take the biggest value here which is 200, your shutter speed needs to be that fast and even slightly faster,

eg. 16-35 lens, take the biggest value here, which is 35 your shutter speed needs to be faster than that.

Example. 150-600 lens, take the biggest value here which is 600, your shutter speed needs to be as fast if not faster than 600.

If your lens is a prime lens and says on it 50mm then the highest value is of course 50 and your shutter speed needs to be faster than 1/50, the value on the left side of the slash is what you need to be faster,

By increasing the iso while in AV mode will also boost the shutter speed you are getting, (remember) (when we change one value of the triangle, the other values has to change also)

So by boosting your iso in AV mode, shutter speed is automatically effected. While you are boosting the iso, your camera is automatically setting the shutter speed for you,


This is why the golden rule is there, at the start of learning always try and keep your shutter speed faster than your lens.

 shutter is down
If you look at this image here you can see the shutter is down

What is the aim here?
The aim is simple, the aim is to have the lowest iso as possible while also having a shutter speed as fast if not faster than your lens,

So move iso up from iso100 to iso400, check to see if you have a shutter faster than your lens and if not,

we boost the iso again, so we boost it to iso800 and check the shutter speed, if we are happy that now at iso800 the shutter speed is indeed faster than the lens we are good, But remember, the higher the iso the more noise we are allowing on our pictures,

For some of the newest cameras out there this isn’t a problem

going from iso100 to iso3200 the noise is not that noticeable, but these cameras come with a hefty price tag, they are pro cameras,

But the idea isn’t for you to buy a pro camera and think you know everything and go out shooting professional images right.

The idea is, we are trying to get you out of full auto and to learn how to get into full manual, and by going through this mode (AV) first, you will get a greater understanding of how to adjust the three main values that govern every image.


Aperture refers to the opening of a lens’s diaphragm through which light passes through, we refer to the aperture in F-stops, and aperture is backwards,

what do I mean by backwards ?. well look at the image of the blades there, the lower the aperture or as we are going to refer to it from now on is f-stop, so the lower the f-stop the blades open up, the blades get wider and allow a lot more light in, aperture values can be seen on your camera written like this 1.4, 2, 2.8, 4, 5.6, 8, 11, 16, 22,

The higher the (aperture) f-stop the less amount of light is allowed in,

but the more of the image is in focus, (Backwards right lol) 

 to explain it in simpler terms,

 What is it that you want in focus, 

Do you want the entire landscape, or just the model,

Do you want the foreground and middle ground and background all in focus then you need a higher f-stop like f14 or f16 or do you want the model in focus and the background blurred then you need a lower f-stop like f2.8 or f-1.4, 

Looking at the blades here and the f-stops  with each value
Looking at the blades here and the f-stops with each value

The lens you are using has this value written on it, this value on the lens is the widest that lens can open up to, see the image provided where it states the value of this lens,

That’s it, this lens cannot go down to f1.4 if it is not stated on the lens. No amount of changing settings can bring that lens down to a value other than the maximum written on the lens,

F-stop and Focal lenght of your lens- check image

So if you have a lens that says f5.6 then the lowest it will go is f5.6 which will allow some of the background in focus and not give you that beautiful bohek behind your model,

So look at your lens, look at the image here and look at that same spot on your lens and the value is written there, now that is it, you cannot go below that. Simple because that lens is only designed to go that low,

F-stop and Focal length
F-stop and Focal length

Hopefully when I just said that, your mind has flashed some images for you to understand that because we have all seen these images,

A model pin-sharp and the background blurred, or a model in focus and some of the background also in focus, or a model and all of the background in decent focus, that is the f-stop at work here,

If not see the images I have attached,

widest aperture and dreamy blur background.

widest aperture and dreamy blur background.
F1.2 vs F22 shallow dept of field, vs everything in focus
F1.2 vs F22 shallow dept of field, vs everything in focus

 But remember again, if we change this value, “what happens to the triangle” the other values change also, 

what is the aim here ?.

The aim here is to understand what it is you are shooting and what do you want in focus. 

When you know that then you know what your aperture should be.

Look at the images I have attached here for reference. Landscape photography can be shot at all different f-stops. Depending on the time of day and the amount of ambient light that is around. If a landscape photographer walks from the open spaces into the woods to photograph the tall trees. He is going to change the values of the triangle why?.

Because the amount of light coming through his lens has changed.

He may change it for the desired effect also.

For example, the beautiful tree in the foreground pin-sharp and all the trees behind that tree out of focus,

The same applies to photograph a model or indeed if that model is just your kids.

Just having the model pin-sharp opposed to having everything in focus. You decided and change the value of the f-stop to suit your situation, and the desired outcome of your image.

The more you raise the f-stop the more comes into focus. But like we have been saying, when we change a value on the triangle another value changes,

So remember that In Av mode when you change the f-stop the shutter speed is affected.

When you decrease the f-stop the shutter speed rises up. your aim is to find the best settings for your image.

In other words, playing around with the iso and the aperture in AV mode. Try and keep your iso as low as you can while also having a fast shutter speed to compensate for the length of your lens.

Meanwhile choosing the correct (APERTURE) F-STOP for what you are shooting,

The reason I am asking you to start in AV Mode. And not going into full manual is that the camera will help you here.

and automatically set the shutter speed when you change the other values,

If you can understand the principle of the triangle and the foundation of the values.

Then when it is time to move into full manual mode now you have to set all three values of the triangle.

You should have a better understanding of what each one does and needs to be.

How i go about a shot.

So what I do when shooting let’s say a model in an abandoned building.

And there is very little ambient light coming in.

I am not going to talk about using flash here. Just using AV mode and let’s say a sigma 85mm lens with an f-stop value of f1,4.
My first approach is knowing that I need the widest aperture possible.


Because I need as much light as possible to flood the sensor. It is quite dark in this building. So by looking at my lens and knowing that the value written on it says f1.4. I know my maximum is f1.4. Which in any case is more than enough, so my first settings is that aperture set to f1.4,

Then I take the lens cover off and move my camera around. Pointing it in a few different places and looking at my shutter speed.

From here I can see my shutter speed is slow when I place it in a darker spot of the room. But increases as I move it around.

But it is not ideal. So I increase my ISO fully knowing that by increasing it. I am allowing noise into my image. In this situation, there is nothing I can do about that, so don’t worry,

I increase my ISO moving it up to let’s say 1600 and have another quick check

Moving my camera around the room and half-pressing the shutter button. Magic I have a shutter speed now faster than my lens. No matter where in that room I am moving my camera around.

Now I don’t have to worry about it. I have just checked that if I place my model in a few different locations within that room.

By moving it around at the start and checking my shutter speed. I have increased my ISO enough to allow my sensor to be sensitive enough to compensate for the darker areas. Now I can shoot.

Photography, Light meter,

looking at the light meter
looking at the light meter

In the image above you can see this light meter. Also you have by now noticed it in your camera.

I am only bringing this 4th principle into this conversation because You need to be aware of it. Why James do I need to be aware of that you might ask. Because it allows you to cheat while shooting. Well not cheat but compensate for the exposure of the image. Look at the image and you will see a plus and minus side to the centre of the light meter. By moving the wheel on top of the grip. You can also add, one-stop or two stops or even, three stops or more of extra light into your images.

By moving it the other way you can decrease the amount of light in your images.

For now just be aware of it and in the future, we can talk a bit more about it. And how we can use it to help improve certain images.

I just want to mention it now so you are aware of it. You will see it and when the time comes to talk about it. You will know what I am talking about. For now, don’t worry too much about it. Understanding photography and the camera and all the buttons and what they do, will take time.

Photography Practise is everything

Relentless practice is everything. If you are serious about photography, then practising every day and improving is key.
If you read my first blog, you will understand I did this every day nonstop. And in most cases I still do it.

I mean I am very rarely without a camera in my hand. By no means do I class myself as an amazing photographer. There is so much to learn and you are always learning. Photography is challenging, Photography is a way for you to express yourself when words fail you.
If you are true to the profession then you simply can never get bored with it. You will have dry spells when the brain isn’t clicking right and you won’t want to go out.

We all go through this. But by changing your habits or shooting something differently. Or simply walking in a different area, will explode the love for this passion again.

“In photography there is a reality so subtle that it becomes more real than reality.” .

“There is one thing the photograph must contain, the humanity of the moment.”

  • “Taking an image, freezing a moment, reveals how rich reality truly is.” …
  • Photography is a way of feeling, of touching, of loving.

To read my first Blog click here

If you want to go into this in more detail, and nerd out in greater understanding,

click this link here I found this helpful when starting off.

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