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Here is a diagram of the exposure triangle. If you find it helpful, use it, if not… don’t!
The problem for me with the triangle diagram is that it feels misleading. Eg,. if you have your shutter speed at 1/2000 you’ll need your ISO at 1600? Or why are they at the same end of the triangle? Does 1/30 go together with f/22? For me, the triangle as a visual doesn’t work so well.
I therefore made these diagrams as an alternative way to try and show how the 3 parts of the triangle go together, representing one side of the scale as making the image darker, and one side of the scale as making it lighter.
Therefore, if you adjust one setting toward the dark end, another setting will need to go toward the light end in order to keep your exposure where it was.
Similarly, if you want to make your photo lighter, you would need to adjust one or two sliders toward the “lighter” side of the scale.
Below the first “scale” are some hypothetical scenarios where you would need to change the settings of your camera. I will put answers beneath each shortly.
You have two options here.
One could be to slow the shutter speed to 1/400 sec. I wouldn’t go any slower than this or I begin to notice a lot more unusable photos due to motion blur. So going slower than 1/400, while it WOULD make the photo brighter, may result in less sharp photo, or fewer useable photos.
If the photo is STILL too dark, the only other option is to raise my ISO, since my aperture is already as wide as it can be – letting in as much light as it can.
ISO 200 isn’t very high, so even if I had to go up to ISO 400, 640, or 800, for a lot of newer cameras this isn’t a big deal. Of course, it depends on your equipment!
First, I would lower my shutter speed. It doesn’t need to be this fast any more as my subject isn’t going to be moving around. I could lower it all the way to 1/400 or 1/500 of a second. This is going to make the photo a lot brighter
I could also widen my aperture. It must have been at f/2.8 to give myself a better chance of getting the dog in focus while it was running, by having a slightly wider depth of field. But now that it’s standing still, I might want to have a softer background. Of course if my lens is soft when “wide open” I might not want to go all the way to f/1.8 but find the “sweet spot” where it’s sharpest.
Finally, because I know the photo is going to be much, much brighter due to the slower shutter speed letting more light in to the sensor, I know I would need to lower my ISO. Here is actually a handy calculator to figure out how much you’d need to lower it by. You’re trying to match up the EV since the calculator obviously doesn’t know what the lighting conditions are.
On mirrorless this is much easier as you can just adjust the ISO and see how the photo will look.
Assuming the photo was correctly exposed with the above settings (eg., not underexposed for highlights), then dropping the shutter speed to 1/500 and the aperture to f/1.8 would mean our ISO would be around ISO 200.
There are two possible options but only one of them makes sense.
If I had been doing action photos and wanted to CONTINUE shooting action, I wouldn’t want to touch my shutter speed (ok, MAYBE it could go to 1/1250 but let’s say it’s fast for a speedy boi). In this case, the only option for more light is to raise the iSO. Lowering the shutter speed will result in blurry action photos.
On the other hand if you were doing portraits and had the shutter speed up because of the previous bright sunshine, then it would make more sense to keep your ISO as low as possible, and instead drop the shutter speed. If the dog isn’t zooming around, you could safely go down to 1/400 or 1/500 second – you may not even need to go this slow. It depends on how dark it got!
The answer to this greatly depends on your camera and its dynamic range (eg., how much detail it can store in the darkest areas). It also depends on how confident you are with underexposing and editing, and whether you can be bothered dealing with blown highlights or not.
For me, in this situation, I would opt to underexpose, at least a little bit, to save SOME of the highlights – if it’s not possible to save them all. See the lessons on underexposing for more.
This means making the photo darker.
So if we assume that the settings above were the correct exposure, there are only two options, and only one of them really makes sense.
On one hand, we could theoretically make the shutter speed faster. That WOULD make the photo darker. But then we have ISO 500 for no particular reason, and a fast shutter speed for no particular reason.
Instead, it would be better to lower the ISO to get the best image quality with the lowest amount of noise (especially when underexposing!) and keep the shutter speed where it is.
I wouldn’t do anything.
Trick question, sorry!
While you COULD underexpose more, at ISO 4000, you’re potentially (and probably) going to notice a lot more noise if you need to brighten up your underexposed photo, than you would at a lower ISO.
By about ISO 2000+ I stop underexposing much, and by ISO 4000 I’m not underexposing at all – even if that means blowing the highlights. Because if my dog is underexposed at ISO 4000 and I need to brighten him up, there’s going to be a LOT of noise, and a large loss of image quality.