Getting started with Film can seem daunting to anyone that's been shooting digital. When shooting with digital cameras in auto mode the camera will choose the best Aperture, ISO and Shutter Speed for you in order to achieve a proper exposure. You won't have to do a lot of technical calculations in order to shoot film and achieve good results but understanding The Exposure Triangle will help you to gain confidence when using manual cameras.
The Exposure Triangle Explained
The relationship between the three sides of the triangle, Aperture, ISO and Shutter Speed, makes it so that if you change one side of the triangle, at least one of the other two sides would require adjustment in order to achieve a proper exposure. It's really that simple.
Let's take a look at what each side of the triangle represents.
Aperture accounts for the amount of light that the lens allows in.
Aperture is typically measured in f-stops. The larger the Aperture, the lower the number is for the f-stop and the smaller the Aperture, the higher the number is for the f-stop.
ISO is a measurement for the sensitivity of the film or digital sensor.
Each step between different ISOs is called a stop. With film, the lower the ISO, the less sensitive the film is and the film will require more light for a proper exposure. Likewise, the higher the ISO, the more sensitive the film is and the film will not need as much light for a proper exposure.
Shutter Speed is the length of time that light is allowed to reach the film or digital sensor.
Each step between different Shutter Speeds is called a stop. The larger the number, the longer the exposure. Likewise, the smaller the number, the shorter the exposure. Any Shutter Speed that is for less than 1 second is represented by a fraction.
Putting it All Together
Ok, so hopefully now you know that if you have film loaded into your camera with low sensitivity that you will need to adjust the amount of light that your lens allows in and the length of time that the light is allowed to expose the film.
Real World Example & Pro Tip
When shooting ISO 100 film in low light - you tend to not only be limited by ISO in this case but also by how fast your lens is. Go to the largest f-stop that you have and then find the shortest shutter speed possible to achieve proper exposure. Remember to use a tripod if you are shooting a SLR camera with a Shutter Speed below 1/250.
In future blog posts we'll dive deeper into what each side of the triangle does, how it's represented on your camera and what it means to you, the photographer.
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