This is Nick the primary photographer and blogger for katin images. I hope that you will enjoy the stories and images on this site.
They have been accumulated from visiting 38 different countries from all the continents in the last eighteen years
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So, what is the exposure triangle?
Well it’s the relationship between aperture, shutter speed and ISO.
Each one affects the other.
Remember Ohm’s law? Well if you don’t (I’m not even sure they teach it at school these days).
It’s basically an electrical equation V Volts (power) = R Ohms (resistance) x I Amps (current) and if you change one you change the other.
If you know the power and the resistance then by changing the equation to Volts ÷ Ohms = Amps, you can work out the current (amps).
It’s the same for the exposure triangle.
Let’s see if we can remember this easily.
Aperture is a hole that lets light in. The bigger the hole the more light you let in.
What does that mean?
It means the smaller the hole the more in focus – the bigger the hole the less in focus.
If you take a picture with a setting of F2.4 (because the size of the hole is inversely proportional to its setting) that’s a large hole and the subject will be in the focus but the background will be blurry
If you take a picture with a small hole e.g. a setting of F22 then the more you will have in focus from the point at which you are focusing the camera back towards, potentially, infinity
For more on the topic of aperture go to 10 Vital Facts about Camera Aperture
This is an easier one to grasp.
As with the aperture, the longer the shutter is open the more light you allow in.
Shutter speeds are measured in fractions of second to seconds.
So, a shutter speed of 1/100 is one hundredth of a second or .001. Obviously 5 is 5 seconds.
However, the effect is totally different from the aperture. A fast shutter speed will generally freeze motion e.g. sports. Whilst a slow shutter speed will blur motion e.g. a fluid looking waterfall.
ISO stands for International Organization for Standardization and in the film days was an indicator of how sensitive to light a film was.
An ISO 400 film was 4 times as sensitive to light than a ISO 100 film.
On digital cameras that sensitivity is for the camera sensor.
When the ISO is increased or decreased you are in effect making the camera sensor more or less sensitive to light.
ISO 100 being the least sensitive whilst is the most sensitive.
So, there you have the three points of the exposure triangle.
I’ve already mentioned how each one affects the other but let’s see how that affects, for example, Product photography and look at a couple of specific examples.
OK, so you’ve got this new beaut product that you want to take to the market place and you want to create some really cool images to use for marketing.
And let’s say it’s this toy soldier.
You’re taking the picture inside which is fairly bright, even though you’re using just natural light.
The first image has an aperture of f5 and a ISO of 800 whilst the camera has calculated the shutter speed.
You can see everything is in focus and the light looks fairly normal.
But doesn’t it look a bit soft e.g. slightly blurred?
That’s because the shutter speed is too low at 1/20 which means I couldn’t hold it still enough.
The second image had an aperture of f1.2 and a ISO of 2000 there you can see that the soldier is in focus whilst the background is blurred (bokeh).
That’s a fairly common way for ensuring that the spotlight is on the product and not distracted by the back ground.
Because of the high ISO the shutter speed is 1/200 which means the image is much sharper as the shutter speed is now 10 times as fast and is a bit more forgiving.
As an aside if you think you can hold a camera still regardless, think again. Our hands move without us knowing.
However, the disadvantage of having a high ISO is that the image could have noise which may or may not be an issue.
As a rule of thumb, the higher the maximum ISO setting on the camera the less likely noise will occur at lower settings.
In other words, if you have camera that goes to a maximum setting of 100,000 the noise factor at 5000 will be almost non-existent.
If on the other hand, you have a camera that has a maximum setting of 10,000 then the you will be able to see noise at 2000.
Of course, there are ways of reducing or getting rid of noise in post-production with software like Adobe Lightroom. So, it’s not a big issue.
Below are two examples of noise from two different cameras.
There you have it, that’s the exposure triangle.
Did you understand all that? I’m happy to clarify anything you’re not sure of.
Just post in the comments section below. Don’t be shy.
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I’ve said in a Why selecting a new camera is like selecting a new date (or TV) that it’s not the camera but the person with their finger on the shutter button that makes or breaks a great photo.
Well just to contradict myself, sometimes it is the gear.
Having certain equipment can give you shots that you may not be able to get without it.
A sports action photographer won’t get some of the shots he would like if the auto focus in his camera is slow.
Fashion photography requires excellent lighting.
Top quality landscape photographers usually use a tripod and high resolution cameras.
Cameras with more settings will generally have more flexibility and therefore give the photographer choices.
Let’s look at what equipment can give you:
It gives opportunities to create something imaginative.
For instance, with some of the filters that are part of almost every camera today, including smartphones, you have options to give your image a Grainy Film, Pop Art or Sepia old worlde tone look.
The image below is a combination of a couple of filters.
When you are taking images of an event that has motion you generally need a high number of frames per second (FPS) to capture several images at a time.
Some cameras have high FPS and some lower and that can make a big difference.
Conversely if you wish to blur motion then you need a camera that will allow a slow enough shutter speed.
That may not always be possible especially in bright light. So, a ND (neutral density) filter can be added so that the amount of light entering the camera is reduced.
There’s no doubt that modern cameras can almost see in the dark.
However not all cameras are created equal. Even though there are cameras that have ISO rating in the 100’s of thousands they may not give the crisp clear images you want.
Why is ISO that important? Well to give you a personal example; when I was first learning photography, back in the film days, I was on a gorilla safari in Uganda.
The forest we were in was dark and as we got a view of the gorillas I snapped away not understanding that I should have had a film with a much higher ISO.
The images were developed some time later and were so disappointing.
Blurred because the camera had a slow shutter speed due to the lack of light.
A priceless experience that was never properly recorded!
Before digital, the ISO rating you had on the film meant that you were locked in for however many frames there were e.g. 36. Now you can change the setting per frame.
Film also only went up to around 1600 and even then, you got a grainy image which is OK if you want to depict a moody grainy photo but not so good if you wanted something crisp and clean.
So, yes, some cameras will give you some great images and high ISO negating the need for tripods or other ways of holding the camera still but not all.
My wife’s camera (granted it’s a few years old now) is ok up to 1600 after that the grain is quite noticeable.
On the other hand, the Olympus OMD5 I have is great up to about 6400.
Image stabilisation can really help if you need to take images in low light or with slow shutter speeds. In some cases, that can eliminate the need for a tripod.
I first saw image stabilisation in Namibia on safari. A photographer had a lens with image stabilisation and he could take images without the need for a tripod in fairly low light. This was 20 years ago when I was first learning photography and that blew my mind!
I’ve always hated carrying and using a tripod but now with these lightweight models and the fact that the cameras are now a lot smaller and weigh less it’s not so much of a burden to carry one. Using it – well that’s still another matter but I will say if you are taking images of products especially in low or artificial light then it’s a valuable tool.
With a tripod, you can take yourself out of the equation and with a wireless (or wired) remote you can take images of subjects reasonably stress free and creatively.
Bokeh is the term used for making the subject stand out from its background by ensuring that the subject is in sharp focus and that the back ground is blurred.
The right equipment can allow you to create an image with great Bokeh.
The equipment for this is a little more complex. If you have a full frame camera, then it’s relatively easy with even the package lens to get a reasonable bokeh.
Where it gets tricky is with mirrorless (there is the odd full frame mirrorless but for this purpose, we’ll cater to the majority).
Any none full frame camera is very much dependent on the lens and couple of other factors like distance and zoom.
So, that was my alternative view on the importance of equipment.
Do you agree?
Let me know in the comments section below.
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