The Exposure Triangle

When I do my photography workshops, one of the things that the participants find is hardest to understand is The Exposure Triangle.

So what is the Exposure Triangle?

The exposure triangle is the relationship of three things

  • Aperture
  • Shutter speed
  • ISO

If you change any one of these elements is has a direct impact on the other two elements.

Let us say you have a starting exposure of 1/60 at F8 ISO 200.

Now the shot that you want to take is of a small child running around a playground. The first thing you have to do is decide what will allow you to capture what is important is this kind of image.

The child is likely to be moving nearer and farther from the camera as well as left to right across the frame pretty erratically.

So what is important in such an image.

Sharp subject (YES)

Sharp Background (No)

So faster shutter speeds will allow you to capture a moving subject and keep it sharp. Let us say we change our starting exposure by increasing our shutter speed from 1/60 to 1/125. How will that effect the other two elements.

You will have to do

1. Open the aperture one stop from F8 to F5.6 or 2. Increase ISO also one stop from 200 to 400.

Either of these two changes will allow you to keep the correct exposure.

So what will opening up the aperture by one stop do?

Opening the aperture will let in more light and allow you to keep the correct exposure but also allow you to have a faster shutter speed, it will also allow you to blur the background just a little. In this type of photography this would not be a problem, in fact it is quite desirable.

How will increasing the ISO by one stop effect things?

It will increase the camera sensors sensitivity to light. Again it will allow you to keep the correct exposure.

So as you can see any change in one element will require a corresponding change to another element to maintain the correct exposure. You have to decide what change you make based on what effect you require to get the shot you want.

The correct exposure is a combination of the three elements. Here are three examples of how they work together.

Here is a diagram of the three elements.

Exposure triangle2

This combination F8 at 1/250 ISO 400 would give you a good amount of depth of field with a relatively fast shutter speed with a small risk of noise (grain in the image)

This combination F4 at 1/500 ISO 200 would give you a smaller depth of field but with a faster shutter speed to stop action and with an ISO set at 200 you would have a relatively low chance of noise in the image.

This combination F16 at 1/30 ISO 200 will give you the same exposure as the two above this but you would have a much greater depth of field but with a much slower shutter speed you risk camera shake and blurred images, again with an ISO at 200 you have a low risk of noise.

All will give you a correct exposure but with differing visual results.

I would suggest that you read my articles on Depth of Field and also on Photography Rules


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Landscape Photography Tips.

Landscape Photography How To

Landscape photography is probably the most popular type of photography. You can do it anywhere. I often get asked questions on the subject so decided to do a Landscape Photography How To.

Deciding where to go.

The first thing you have to do is pick a location. Decide where you are going to go to get these wonderful landscape images you want to take.  You have to research the location and plan for things like the weather, time of day (sunrise and sunset), tides if it’s a seaside location.

Taken early in the morning with a slow shutter spead to get some movement in the water

Taken early in the morning with a slow shutter speed to get some movement in the water

Get maps of the area and work out where the sun will be and when, what will be in shadow. Better still visit the location and take notes if you can. Doing this will help give you a clear idea what to expect on the day of the shoot.


What are you going to wear on the day of the shoot? Make sure you are prepared for all weathers. In most places the weather will change throughout the day. Shorts in the afternoon might be fine but when it starts to get cold in the evening, how will you feel then. I recommend long trousers at all times. They will offer protection against more than just the cold. A hat is also a good idea. Wear layers so if it’s hot you can take something off and if it gets cold you have extra layers to put on. It’s no fun getting cold and wet.

Camera Gear.

I often get asked what equipment should I take? My answer is always the same. No more than you can carry. If you are using a DSLR then something wide around 17-40mm is good for sweeping landscapes and good depth of field. A 50mm with large aperture will come in useful also. You will also want a mid range zoom around 70-200mm. That should cover just about any situation that you come across.

What is in my bag?

I carry a two Canon 40D DSLR cameras with a Sigma 10-20mm F3.5, Canon 50mm F1.8, and Canon 70-200mm F4L. I almost always carry the Canon 60mm 2.8 Macro. I also carry a Canon flash.


I also carry the normal accessories that you would expect. Camera cleaning equipment, cable release, spirit level. With all that packed into a photo backpack I still manage to carry a tripod. The tripod being the one item I cannot be without.


Taken with a grey grad filter.

Taken with a grey grad filter.

In landscape photography you will be very lucky if you ever come across a scene that you can expose the sky, the background and the foreground without using any filters and get a correct exposure.

I normally take some ND Neutral Density Grad filters, ND Neutral Density solid filters and a Polarizer. The ND filters will help me to balance the exposure. The solid ND filter will allow me to use slow shutter speeds to show movement. The polarizer will help to saturate colours and cut down on reflections on non metallic objects.

Get the basics right.

We all should be aware of the rules of composition. The rule of thirds, Leading lines and also things like foreground interest and use of colour, these all come into their own in landscape photography.

When you know the rules and you know what works and why it works, it is also a good idea to try things that break the rules. If it does not work out It’s no big deal, you will not know until you try. You don’t always have to go with the conventional. Sometimes it pays off to be unconventional.

Setting up your camera.

Metering options. Modern DSLR cameras are very clever and will not be fooled easily, but it’s you that has to know how to set the camera up for best results. When you are doing landscape photography you are normally looking at a wide area including the sky. You want to get an average reading and you can then adjust for any highlight or shadow areas. I would recommend that you use Multi zone metering, it will normally give you the best result.

Exposure Mode. I normally have my camera set to aperture priority mode, this allows me to set the aperture and the camera then sets the appropriate shutter speed to get the correct exposure. I also use exposure compensation when needed. This gives me a lot of control over the exposure.

Note that it is important to take the meter reading before you attach any filters such as a neutral density graduated filters as the filter will affect the exposure.

ISO. It is important that you use the lowest ISO setting to get the best quality of image you can. There is nothing wrong with increasing the ISO to allow you to get the shot but the higher the ISO the more noise you are likely to get especially when the light levels start to go down. Night time images are more likely to suffer from noise. If you remembered to take your tripod with you this will not be an issue.

Aperture. If you want to get images with front to back sharpness you should be setting a small aperture around F11-F16 or F22 with a wide angle lens you will be able to maximize depth of field and have everything in the shot appear sharp. With a longer lens you can expect to use f22 to get the same depth of field. For more information read my article on Depth of Field.

Shutterspeed. Shutter speed will be set automatically by the camera. Make sure it is not beyond the limits of the camera or you will get images that are too dark or too light. Always check the exposure and make any necessary adjustments.

Time of day.

Morning and late evening. The time of day will play a very big part in what images you take home with you. Make the effort to get up early and get to your location so you get the early

Put you camera on a tripod when light levels are low.

Put your camera on a tripod when light levels are low.

morning light. The warm colours in the early morning and late evening can make or break an image. So if your energy levels allow you, you should get out early and stay out till after sunset to get the best of the light.


Middle of the day. This is when many photographer pack up and head home. In the summer months, if you don’t mind working with strong light and harsh shadows then nobody says you have to stop taking photographs. This is a good time however to take a break and eat something and replenish your energy. In the winter months this is normally not a problem as the sun does not rise as high in the sky.

It is not unusual for me to go out in the dark and return in the dark after having taken photographs throughout the whole day.

The Weather.

Most of us could talk about the weather all day. When it comes to the weather it can be your friend or your worst enemy. There is no feeling in the world like sitting in a car at the end of the day waiting for the rain to stop when you have not taken one good shot all day. I have done it many times.

On the other hand when the weather plays along you will get some of the best shots of your life.

Make the most of the weather. Use the sky as part of the shot use the clouds, use sunlight and shadows to make your images stand out.

Typically you want to have a mixture of sunshine and cloud as it will maximize your opportunities to get the best images.

If all else fails you can always resort to black and white and still get some very nice images.

What to photograph?

Well what you will photograph will depend on where you are. What you have to do is not only look but see. Look at the big picture and by all means take a panorama shot but how many other shots can you see within that image.

When doing landscape photography a few steps to the left or to the right can have a big impact to the scene in front of you. For the same reason, nobody said you had to stand up for all your photographs. What does a scene look like from lowdown? Experiment!


Use movement in your images. Use a small aperture that allows you to use a slow shutter speed to catch movement if water. Water looks great when you use a shutter speed around 1/15 of a second. Use a faster or slower shutter speed to get the effect you want.

If you can’t get a slow enough shutter speed, use your neutral density filter to make it possible. You can also use your polarizer filter to do the same thing.

Get good depth of field by using a small aperture.

Get good depth of field by using a small aperture.

Don’t be afraid to use a small aperture to enhance your shots. Not all landscapes benefit from a large depth of field.


Some of the problems you might face when out doing landscape photography.

Camera shake.

You should use a tripod when out taking landscape photographs. Even when you do use a tripod it can still be a problem, caused because the wind is too strong. Use your camera bag to weigh down the tripod and make it more stable.

If using a a tripod and lens with image stabilization turn it off. This feature can cause images to be blurry. Turn it back on again if hand holding your camera.


Flare can be caused when shooting into the sun (contre-jour) most often when the sun is low in the sky. You can avoid that by using a lens hood to shield the lens.

In conclusion.

Where you go and what you shoot is up to you. The information here will not answer all your questions but I do hope that you take something from it.

Landscape photography is an art and like anything you must practice to see improvement, the more you do it the better you get. Don’t expect to get the shot every time you go out and be ready to work with what you have in front of you.

Except the weather for what it is, and make the most of it. If you don’t get the shot you wanted use the day as a scouting exercise so the next time you have a better chance. Above all enjoy your photography and never put yourself or others in danger.

To see more of my photography visit my website


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What is Depth of Field.

What is Depth of Field.


Depth of field extends from the foreground to the tree in the background. This image was taken with a TLR Camera at F16.

When you first pick up a camera and everything is still quite new, it is a lot to take in. You hear the word “aperture” and the words “shutter speed” perhaps the words “Depth of Field” not realizing that you just heard about the things that will dominate your photography forever. Not just at the beginning of your photography education but FOREVER.

So what is Depth of Field? Depth of field is the area within any photograph that is reasonably sharp or acceptably sharp. If you look at an area of a photograph and you can see the detail due to the sharpness of the image then that person or object would be considered to be within the area we call depth of field. Depth of field is essentially the area within a photograph that is acceptably sharp. Anything in front or beyond that point that is not acceptably sharp is considered to be outside the depth of field. To make it even more confusing depth of field changes in almost every single shot!


What things affect Depth of Field.

  • Aperture.
  • Focal length?
  • Distance to subject.


Lets start with aperture. The aperture is effectively the hole inside the lens that lets light into the camera to form an image. If the aperture is small the Depth of field will be greater and if the aperture is large the depth of field will be smaller. So the same shot taken at F22 (Small aperture) will have more depth of field than a shot taken at F5.6 (Large aperture) Notice the larger number represents a smaller hole. This is just another thing that helps to confuse people. Don’t worry this all becomes second nature eventually. You will be thinking about this every time you pick up your camera.

Now then let’s talk about focal length. How does that affect depth of field? Take an image of a woman from 20 feet away with a 50mm lens and let’s say you can get her whole body in the shot. Now you take the same shot with a 200mm lens from the same spot, you would likely only be able to get her head in the shot. Now here is the strange part, the shot taken with the 50mm lens will appear to have more depth of field, because it has a wider angle of view. The 200mm lens has greater magnification. Now if you walked backwards far enough so that while you were using the same 200mm lens that you could fit the whole woman in the shot, same angle of view. They would both have the same depth of field. The only thing that has changed is the distance to the subject.

Distance to subject. How does that affect depth of field? Thankfully this part is easy. With any given lens, at any given aperture, the closer you are to the subject the less depth of field you will have. That is why small apertures F16 and above are typically used in macro photography.

There is also a common misconception that depth of field extends twice as far beyond a subject than it does in front of the subject. This is true with wider lenses but is not always the case as you increase the focal length of a lens it becomes less true and is much more likely to be the same in front of the subject as it is beyond the subject with longer lenses.

So how do you control Depth of field?

If you want to control depth of field you can adjust the aperture to give less or greater depth of field. You can also move closer or further away from the subject and use wide or narrow angle of view.

This is a skill that you will come to master and use in all types of photography. In landscapes you will typically want greater depth of field, while in portraits you will likely want less depth of field.

Please leave a comment or ask a question at the bottom of the page.

You may also find this information helpful HERE


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Still Life Photography – 8 steps to great shots.

Still Life Photography – 8 steps to great shots.

sweets (2)

What do you normally take photographs of?

Is it landscapes, portraits, sports, there are not many types of photography were you can have 100% control over the shot. Still life photography is one of them.

What I like about still life photography is that you have that control, and you can take your time. Quite often you will have an idea for a still life and when you are finished and have the shot in the bag, it is very different than the idea you started with. You can let the creative process take over and just follow it to finally produce a great still life image.

Choose your subject.

Flowers in window light

Flowers in window light

Choosing a subject can sometimes be quite hard. What I tend to do is pick a single object that I know will be in the shot and then look around for items that would compliment it. Sometimes I go for the minimalist effect and have only one item in the shot. The choice is yours, but what you are looking for is harmony between everything in the image. Everything should work together to produce a good image that portrays you idea.


The background you choose has to be seen as part of the image it has to lend its self to the overall theme of the image. Pick a background that compliments the main subject of the image. It is around this point in the process of building the image that I usually decide if the final image will be in colour or Black and white.


Surprisingly, Lighting for still life photography does not need to be difficult. You can use ambient light (the light that is available) or maybe you want to use a window for back or side lighting or you could have a full lighting system to get the shot, again this will depend on what the image is that you are looking to build. I say build because that is what you are doing here, you are constructing an image. My advice is build up your skills and keep things simple and use more complicated lighting set ups as your skills improve.


No matter what you are going to photograph or what your lighting set up is likely to be. You will need to have reflectors. The reason for reflectors is so you can manipulate the light to get the overall feeling you are looking for. Reflectors will allow you to do this. Generally you will need one large reflector a couple of medium reflectors and even some small reflectors. That should cover all you needs when doing still life photography. You will also have to think about what colour they should be, but again that depends on the look you are after. You can learn more about reflectors here.



Composition is important in general photography but in still life photography you have no excuse if your image suffers from bad composition. Remember this is one area of photographywere you have 100% control, use it!Focus on winning By now you should have a good idea what your image should look like. You have your props, you have your background and you have your lighting set up. Now what you want to do is move things around see how the work together.  Don’t only look at the props look at the shadows they cast. SEE how things work together. There should be harmony it should fit together, it should look natural and not staged.


This is a must for still life photography. USE A TRIPOD! If you want to get good still life images you can do that by hand holding your camera, if on the other hand you want to get GREAT still life images that are pin sharp you need to use a tripod. A tripod with ball head is very handy for this but a 3 way pan and tilt head will also work very well. You should also be using a cable release to trip the shutter, this will help prevent camera shake. You can also use the cameras self timer to do this.
Make sure your tripod can hold the camera steady and if necessary weight it down with a camera bag or something similar to hold it steady.Colours2 iPAD


Now you have your shot set up your lighting is in place and you have composed the shot all you have to do now is focus the shot so you get what needs to be in focus is actually in focus. Decide what aperture you will be using. Small aperture gives greater depth of field and large aperture gives less depth of field. You will typically using an aperture of around F11-F16 to get everything in focus. If you have your camera in aperture priority mode the camera will set the shutter speed automatically.


All you need to do now is take the shot. After you have taken the shot look at each element within the shot see how well they work together. Look at the brightest spot in the image. Make sure you can still see some detail do the same with the shadow areas.IMG_5716 If necessary make some adjustments with the lighting and the reflectors until you get it right and then take the shot again. Don’t forget to check around the edge of the frame for stray objects or light, look for unwanted reflections. When you are sure you are happy and everything is okay, you can pack it all up and start again.

I would normally plan to do several still life shots on the same day. This allows me to maximize my time when you do get your mind into creative mode you will be surprised what other ideas you come up with using the same props. We all tend to be more creative when we are actually in the process of creating something, that’s when you get so many new ideas. One thing I would recommend is that you write your ideas down because you will get a good idea for a photograph and an hour later the idea is gone, lost forever.

If you would like to see more of my photography please go Here


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Food Photography How To.

One of the things about photography that I love is the amount of artistic freedom you are allowed. In this food photography how too, you don’t have to take a photograph any particular way. You don’t have to work with a particular exposure.

In my experience you generally start out with an idea and as you work on that Idea it changes, it evolves into something else and that’s what you end up with.

Food Image (2 of 6)In food photography it is no different. You will have to have an idea of what you want to photography, how you want to photograph it and what you want it to look like in the final image.

I will go over some of the things here that will help you make your food photography stand out.

  • Keep it simple
  • Lighting will make the shot
  • Use fresh Ingredients
  • Use simple props
  • Keep it simple.

Food Image (6 of 6)Put your camera on a tripod and use a cable release. It will slow you down, but it will give you time to think, It will allow you two hands to move things around as you need to.

Why make things more complicated than they have to be? The more food and props you have in the shot the more you have to organize the shot, the more you have to be concerned about lighting, depth of field. If you keep things simple you can still get great shots without the headache of having over worked the shot and fix unnecessary problems.

Lighting will make the shot.

As with most photography lighting generally makes or breaks the image. When doing food photography, I generally use only one light and some reflectors to fill in the shadows. It is a simple way to get great shots.Food Image (4 of 6)

You can use a window with reflectors, or if you have one a strobe and a softbox, this will also produce a nice soft light which is the type of light that works very well in food photography. You don’t want harsh shadows or very dark areas. Food photography should make people want to eat, it should make them feel hungry.

Use Only Fresh Ingredients.

How can you expect to make people feel hungry or want to eat what you photograph if it is not fresh? It just will not work. Get fresh ingredients to photograph, and it is also very important that you store them correctly.

HealthWhen the time comes for you to use them you want them as fresh as possible. So don’t go out buy fresh ingredient and just stick them in the fridge. Make sure they are not getting squashed. Make sure you have your exposure correct also. Use a prop to test lighting before you bring out the food.

Use Simple Props.

The props you choose are very important and should add to the overall image. Think about it, if you are going to photograph apples do you need salt and pepper on the table or a knife and fork. They don’t work together.

Chopsticks close-up

Chopsticks close-up

That’s the question you should be asking, does this set up work together? If it does leave it in, if it doesn’t take it away.

Food photography is something that you can generally take your time over and get it right. Don’t be afraid to tear everything down and start again from scratch. I have done quite a lot of food photography over the years and I enjoy it because you have time and you can control every aspect of the shoot.

Lighting food from the front gives a very flat look and it does not make the food look at it’s best. You are very likely to be using backlighting or side lighting for your food photography.

When you have your lighting and your table set up, start to set up your food. Start with one item and add to it. View the plate from various angles. Ask yourself what does it look like from low down, from aboveFood Image (5 of 6)

As you add things you should be looking for shadows and reflections. Generally you want to avoid dark shadows and strong reflections, nothing should distract the viewers eye from the food.

You also want to make sure that everything is spotless clean. Clean plates (I recommend white plates) and no watermarks on kitchen utensils. If you pay attention to the details you will succeed in creating wonderful food photography.

The best part is after you finish, you can eat it. So enjoy!



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New Photography Business

I have decided to start writing again after a break to set up a new photography business. It’s a photography and print studio.

My hope is that you will come and read what I have to say, but also ask your own questions and get the answers you need.

In photography like most creative activities there is often more than one way to solve any problem. However there is normally one solution that stands out, because it’s simple. I hope that when you read this blog that you often catch yourself say “why did I not think of that” if I can get you to say that, even one time, it will not have been a waste of your time.

There are several pages on this blog so as to make it easy for you to find the information you are looking for. There will be a page with general information and also pages for photography technique and gear reviews.

Gear Review. On this page you will find information on photography gear that I have used in the past or current photography gear that I am using. My intention is to review gear that will help improve your photography in some way. There are many gadgets out there, will they improve your photography, I don’t know but this is where you can get my personal opinion and leave your own comments.

Photography technique. This is where you will find information about the nuts and bolts of what makes photography so interesting. What makes a good photograph? What are the rules in photography? Should you break the rules and if YES, then when?

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Travel Photography top tips.

One type of photography that will cover many subjects is Travel photography. It might mean taking portraits of the locals or architectural photography or macro photography or night time photography it could be any of these and more. So what are my 5 top tips?

Number 5. Do your research.

Find out as much as you can about the place you are going…….BEFORE YOU GO! The more you know about the place the better your images will be.

Blue door

Number 4. Learn how to say hello in the local language.

This may open some doors and get you access to some places you might not have gotten to see, it may also help you get some great portrait shots of the locals.

Great hall copy

Number 3. Don’t try to do everything at once.

Take your time and get to know the place. This is were your research comes in to play. Better to slow things down and get 10-20 great shots that really give you a feel for the destination than to rush around all over the place and get 50-100 ordinary shots.

Madrid Spain

Number 2. Fill the frame.

Leave the viewer in no doubt what the subject is. Cut out all the distractions in the background and fill the frame.


Number 1. Get up early.

Get up early or stay out late. Get the best light one hour before sunrise and one hour after sunset when most of the tourists are either still in bed or back at their hotels.

Brandenburg Gate


I am sure many people will have a different top five but I do hope you find this info helpful. If you want to see more of my photography visit my website

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