Basics of photography – Light Triangle

Basics of photography

If you want to be better than an average point n click photographer then you should be familiar with the basics of photography i.e. Light Triangle – the three things that have an impact on your ability to take a picture. It doesn’t matter if the picture is to be captured on film or through a light sensitive sensor as well as on digital storage; the principle is just the same.

You are already familiar with the fact that you require light to capture a picture and that too less or too much light will spoil the image, therefore how do you fine-tune the amount of light that your camera takes in, so as to capture your special moment?

The first thing to explore is shutter speed. This is the extent of time that a light blocking cover is moved to allow light to the device. Apparently, the longer the cover is open, the more light will come in. If the camera is hand-held and the sensor is exposed for 1/30th second or more than that then there is a possibility of not being able to hold the camera steady and a hazy image will be the outcome. This is well-known as camera shake. If you want longer time exposures, a tripod will be needed.

The second feature in the light stakes is aperture. It is an automated device that forces the image to be seen through a bigger or a smaller hole, according to how it is set. It is measured in ‘f’ stops and surprisingly the lesser the f stop number, the bigger the hole and as a result, the more light that is allowed in. One more purpose of aperture is ‘depth of field’. In plain English, how much of space in front of as well as behind the focus point, is in focus.

If you are capturing landscape photographs then your emphasis should be (for all goals and purposes) infinity, as you want everything between you as well as the far skyline to be focused, therefore you would want to use a smaller aperture, i.e. – a higher f stop. If on the other hand you want to picture a bird sitting on a fence, then the background setting would just be a distraction, therefore choosing a wider aperture, a lower f stop, would provide you what you needed.

Widening the aperture means that you are allowing more light in, therefore, you are also able to choose a faster shutter speed to get the ultimate exposure, however what if you have a situation where you require a bigger depth of field and a quick shutter speed – for example, at a car race where there is some space amongst the first as well as last vehicles, but then again you want to capture them all together? You will require a fast shutter speed as well as broader aperture; nevertheless, you still require allowing in sufficient light. It is at that time we come to the 3rd feature of the light triangle – film sensitivity or ISO.

In this digital age, it seems bizarre to discuss film sensitivity; however it is the easiest way to enlighten the concept. Every level of sensitivity is given an ISO number. Low numbers were less sensitive to light, however had a much finer grain size providing excellent pictures. Higher numbered film is more advantageous for fast action photography, nevertheless offer a grainier outcome.

Therefore, for nearly all photographers out there, these three features can be attuned to generate the best photograph.


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