The 3 Basics of Exposure & Photography

Lots of people are buying SLRs these
days and we all want to make most the most of our
expensive new cameras unfortunately just getting started can
be a daunting task when you cut through all the terminology,
though, photography is just as simple as it was fifty years ago… maybe even simpler. Once you understand the basic elements
of exposure and how they relate to each other, the rest of the details just fall
into place. And there are only three things you need to learn to understand exposure they are: one, aperture two, shutter speed three, ISO and four nothing. It’s just those three things Let me start with aperture The aperture is the circular opening in
your lens that you can make smaller or larger to
allow in more or less light The opening is formed by several blades
that slide over each other, so the opening isn’t perfectly circular but it’s
pretty close In side view, here, you can see the
aperture is like a door that opens and closes inside the lens the aperture settings for the lens are
called “f-stops”. Here at the bottom of the screen, you see typical scale of
f-stops for a professional lens. The smallest numbers like f/2.8
on the left are the largest openings in the lens. Each time you change the setting to the
next larger number, the opening in the lens get smaller and
lets in exactly half as much light so if you start off at f/2.8 it lets in a lot of light. If you switch to f/4 it lets in
half as much light and if you switch to f/5.6 it lets in half as much light as f/4, which is a quarter of what we had at f/2.8 That is important so pause and re-play if you
need to. So that was the exposure part but aperture also controls something
else that affects how your photos look and that’s the “depth of field”. “Depth of field” is basically how blurry
your background and foreground are compared to what you’re focusing on if you use a large opening in your lens,
the background will be very blurred. That’s called a shallow depth of field. If you use a small opening which, remember is a large f-stop
number, the background will be less blurry. So for example, this photo was taken with the aperture
set at f/2.8 so it has a shallow depth of field; the background is pretty blurry. This one was focused in the exact same
place and the camera was in the same position, but it was taken with the aperture set
at f/32, and you can see how much difference
there is in the background and foreground. “Shutter speed” is even easier to understand.
I think that even most beginning photographers know that that the
shutter controls how long the sensor’s exposed to light. The less time the shutter is open, the less light gets through. You set it for one second, and light
reaches the sensor for a full second. The next setting up is a half-second, and
half as much light gets the sensor. The next setting is a quarter-second, and
again, half as much light gets to the sensor as the previous setting, and so on. With each setting change, it gets cut in half and in half and in half and so forth. And of course, if you’re changing the
setting in the opposite direction, you’re getting twice as much light. If you’ve been paying attention, you’re
probably starting to see a pattern here. And of course the shutter speed also makes a difference
in how your photos look. Using a fast shutter speed will freeze the action in your picture, but if you use a slow shutter speed, you’ll get blurry motion. ISO is a little different
from aperture and shutter speed. Instead of controlling how much light
gets to the sensor, it controls how much light the sensor
needs to make the image. The higher the ISO, the more sensitive to sensor is to
light. Suppose for a moment that light enters your camera in neat little
cubes, and let’s say these are the cubes that it takes to
get a correct exposure at ISO 200. It’s forty-eight cubes. If you set the camera to ISO four
hundred instead, the sensor only needs half as much light, twnety-four cubes. Set it to eight-hundred and, again, it’s twice
as sensitive and you only need twelve cubes. Sixteen-hundred needs half as much light
again, and 3200 needs half as much light as that, and so forth. So when you set the camera too high ISO, you can take pictures when there’s a lot
less light. Pretty simple. So why wouldn’t we just shoot at high
ISO all the time? Because the higher you set the
ISO, the more digital noise or film grain
will be visible. For example, here’s an image shot at
ISO 100 There is no noise to speak of. Here’s the same photo shot at
ISO 6400, and unless this video quality is really bad the difference should be pretty obvious. So, how do these things (ISO , shutter speed and aperture) work together? Check out this diagram. Here we’ve got the camera set at f/2.8,
ISO 400, and for simplicity’s sake, the shutter speed is one
second. If we take a picture with the camera
set up like this, the exposure is just right. Now what if we want more depth of field? We set the aperture so that its one notch
smaller. But what happens when we take a picture? Now only half as much light is getting to the
sensor, so the picture is under exposed. How do we fix it? Easy… we can make the shutter stay open for
twice as long, two seconds. And if we cut the amount of light
in half with the aperture again and set it to f/5.6 we can make up for it by doubling the shutter speed again, to four seconds. But let’s back up again to where
we started: one second, at f/2.8 ISO 400 . If we set the aperture down to f/4, there’s another option. We can leave the shutter speed at one
second, but change that ISO to 800. Now the sensor only needs half as much
light, which is perfect, because only half as much light is getting through the
lens, and if we set down the aperture
another notch to f/5.6, we can make up for it by changing the
ISO to 1600. At this point, the picture should be pretty clear about
how these three factors relate to each other. If you change any one of the settings in
one direction, you have to make up for it by moving either one of the other two in
the opposite direction. So if we set ISO up one notch to
1600, we can make up for it by setting the shutter speed down one notch to 1/250th of a second If we move the ISO down from there
two notches to four hundred, we can make up for it by opening up the
aperture two notches to f/4 and you can split the change between two of
the other settings. If we set the shutter speed up two notches to
1/60th of a second we can compensate by setting the
ISO down one notch to 200 and the aperture down one notch to f/5.6 . Just one final note: even though i’ve been saying stuff like
change the setting one notch to 400 or a 1/250th of a second these notches actually have a name. When the change you make doubles or cuts
in half the amount of light getting to the sensor, or the sensitivity of the sensor it’s called an “F-Stop”. but that usually gets shortened to just
plain “Stop”. So, the next time you hear someone talk about
adding a stop of exposure you’ll know what’s up. And that’s it… don’t forget subscribe to my channel on
youtube or on Vimeo and leave feedback if you feel like it, I’ll try to answer questions if I can. For more information on all this stuff visit us at

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100 thoughts on “The 3 Basics of Exposure & Photography

  1. This video is very useful  simple and informative , I recommend it to any one want to understand camera paramerters

  2. I disagree with there being only three basics, there really are four.  Composition is the fourth, and arguably most important.  The video gets into that some, talking about DOF and its relation to f/stop.  But there are also distance from subject and angle of view to consider as well.  And let's not forget about subjects distance from background, and the distance and angle of light sources.  Composition often affects exposure as much and sometimes more than the camera settings.  Conversely, camera settings can greatly impact composition as well.  You can freeze motion with a high shutter speed or flash, or cause motion blur by moving the camera or just having a slow shutter.  I think it's really a disservice to overlook the importance of composition in any discussion of the basics of photography.  Until computers learn to think for themselves, nothing will circumvent the human touch.  And that's really the entire point of composition.  A human can see what the camera can't.

  3. most clear explanation I've come across yet – thanks bro appreciate the time and effort put in! the graphics really helped!

  4. I found this video very helpful in explaining the exposure triangle that I have had a hard time grasping by merely reading about it so thank you for that! My only feedback is the video game background music, as subtle as is was, was extremely distracting and annoying! I could barely focus on what you were saying because I was wishing it would stop!!

  5. I've been trying to understand the relationship between theses three things for years, and have chickened out by resorting to the more automatic features of my very capable camera. This video was exactly what I needed to really absorb the relationship between aperture and shutter speed, and practice adjusting things manually. Thank you for opening this wonderful gate!

  6. okay so for film photography – does my iso always need to be set(on my camera) to the iso number on the box? newbie here

  7. Thank you! Been watching so many videos over the last few days and they just confused me more! Now even though I'm shattered I finally understand! Great to see a video for visual learners 🙂

  8. Thank you.. but I'm still a little confused. I shoot interiors of homes for real estate. If I shoot at F8, 400 ISO and manipulate the shutter speed based on what my sensor indicator is telling me.. lighter/darker…is this ok? In other words, if I leave my Aperture and ISO settings the same and just adjust my shutter speed accordingly, is this ok? Because I really can't grasp the F-stop concept yet. Not stupid just don't quite know how and when to apply it….yet.

  9. So the trick to learn is to try an exposure that should make sense and then adjust the f-stops while looking at the metering. I guess that after a while of frustrating trial and error I'll know the right exposure just by looking at the subject.

  10. Matthew Gore, thank you very much for this video. Just two days before I brought new D5300. with 18-55 lens. your video helped me the basic of settings. I want to get more knowledge about photography, Can I have your email Id ?

  11. There is no such thing as perfect exposure, some Indian movie are shoot a bit over exposure, this will brighten up those dark face. exposure depend on what you like, low key or high key etc. look at national geographic picture in their magazine. do you think they follow standard rule?

  12. the white balance play a great roll in ensuring color. taken Auto,shade,daylight,tungsten etc yield different color.

  13. Hi, could you give me the source of this video, I want to make a Russian version of this video.

  14. Very informative, easy to follow graphic. I hope you teach photography for a living. This being the first video I've seen of yours I am impressed and will be checking out more of your work, I'm getting back into photography after a couple year break and this was the perfect refresher course. Thank you.

  15. Thanks very much for posting this. I've recently become interested in photography but know next to nothing about it beyond "point and shoot" so this was very helpful.

  16. It was so much cool explanation I have ever been experienced. Sir, you are great. God Bless You a Lot.
    Wish I can found the teacher in my school days like you, life becomes heaven…(HAHA).
    Thank you so much once again…Keep Uploading videos like this.

  17. This was quite helpful. This was the explanation I needed to make the connection for these 3 elements of photography

  18. Well done, this video is best for any beginner across globe, best among all of them I have seen till date

  19. what a fantastic and easy explanation…

    I don't se how anyone could make that faster, easier or clearer, thank you!

  20. Beautiful explanation.. No one can explain this simple..thx..just a question shud we not consider studio lights or external flash as 4th component?

  21. I'm sure the people that dislike this trying shoot with an Android phone 😂😂😂 Btw Nice video keep it up

  22. I am fully aware of how exposure works, but it's nice seeing into it's essence. This video is surely carved into my brain. We want more videos.

  23. Perfect video! I've searched all the Chinese websites and video platforms and found nothing like the exposure principle. People in those Chinese videos only say "Oh, you have to adjust the shutter and exposure based on your needs.". That's not wrong but has nothing practical.
    Thank you, Matthew.

  24. I have one question for around 6:40?
    when you're changing the the settings around to keep the light in check, is the photo you end up with look the same?
    Thinking of getting a Canon eos 80D. to make portraits and makes photos of animals in the zoo. is it ok?

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