From "meh" to "masterpiece"

Hey everyone! Today, I'm diving into a topic that can feel a little intimidating for new photographers – the exposure triangle! It's the magical formula behind capturing well-lit photos, and let me tell you, it can be a game-changer.

Goodbye Auto, Hello Experimentation

When I first started taking photos I relied heavily on the automatic settings. But the more I photographed my kids, the more I craved creative control. So, I decided to tackle the exposure triangle – aperture, shutter speed, and ISO – head-on.

YouTube: My Classroom, Sunshine: My Studio

YouTube quickly became my go-to classroom. I devoured tutorials, soaking up all the knowledge I could about how each element of the triangle worked. Then, it was time to put theory into practice. My backyard, bathed in bright sunlight, became my personal studio (with my kids as the adorable models, of course!).

ISO 100: My Sunny Day Starting Point

The first thing I focused on was ISO. In those ideal outdoor conditions, I'd typically start with an ISO of 100, which captures crisp images without introducing digital noise. However, I learned not to be afraid of cranking it up if needed! As the light dimmed, I'd gradually increase the ISO to ensure my photos weren't too dark.

The Golden Rule: Backlit Beauty

Another key lesson – lighting! Early on, I discovered the magic of backlighting. With the sun behind my subject, I'd get a little bit of that golden light peeking through my viewfinder, creating a beautiful, warm glow around my adorable models (a.k.a. my kids!). This technique is a lifesaver for avoiding harsh shadows and achieving that dreamy look.

Shutter Speed Sweet Spot: Capturing Life's Moments

Shutter speed was next on the agenda. Since I was often photographing my energetic kids, I aimed for a shutter speed between 1/250 and 1/300 of a second. This range helped me freeze those precious moments without unwanted blur. If my images were too bright and I was confident in my ISO, I would sometimes increase my shutter speed to allow less light in, darkening my image.

Aperture Adventures: Finding the Perfect Balance

Finally, there's aperture. Now, as a more experienced photographer, my sweet spot for aperture falls between 2.5 and 3. This creates a pleasing shallow depth of field, blurring the background and drawing focus to my subject. But back then, I experimented with a wider range of apertures, really getting a feel for how it impacts the final image.

The Takeaway: Adapting to Every Light

Remember, these are just the settings that worked for me in bright, sunny conditions. As I ventured indoors, particularly into dimly lit hospital rooms for newborn photography, the whole dance changed. I'd bump up the ISO for adequate light and adjust the shutter speed accordingly. It's all about adapting to the situation!

The Journey Continues

Mastering the exposure triangle has been an empowering journey. It's allowed me to move beyond auto mode and capture the world around me (and my family!) in a whole new light. If you're looking to take your photography to the next level, I highly recommend tackling this concept. It may seem daunting at first, but with a little research and practice, you'll be a pro in no time!

Share your experience! Did you find the exposure triangle challenging to learn? What resources helped you along the way? Let's chat in the comments below!