Blog Photography

Digital Photo Manual – Three Core Components

Hello everyone again! It is a wonderful weekend and we shall learn some skills about photography. So having your first DSLR camera is a wonderful thing, but you will need to know how to use it. So to master the basics of a DSLR, you will need to know the three core components of photography. I took a long time to understand between the relationships between these three, ISO, Aperture, and Shutter speed. Finally I figured it out and wants to share with you guys, so here it is. By the way, Happy Mother’s Day to every Mothers in the World!

The CORE COMPONENTS of any exposure are light and time. These two variables are governed by the camera’s aperture and shutter speed, but also by the sensitivity setting in use, the ISO Setting.

It’s the aperture window, located inside your lens, that controls the amount of light that reaches the camera’s sensor. By varying the size of the aperture, we can also creatively control the depth of field of the shot.

The shutter curtain meanwhile, located inside the camera body just in front of its sensor, controls the length of exposure. It opens up for a specific number of seconds (or fractions of seconds) as you press the shutter release button, controlling the amount of time the sensor is exposed to the image-forming light.

The amount of light available changes accordingly to the brightness of each scene and the aperture in use, so the shutter speed you select will need to vary accordingly. Match the correct shutter speed with the aperture you’re using, and you’ll make a correct exposure.

Shutter Speed

So shuttle speed is pretty easy to understand, it is how fast the shutters open and close to allow light to pass through. Understand? Let me explain further, shutter speed comes in range from fractions to whole numbers (fast to slow). Some DSLRs offer a range of shutter speed from 30seconds (slow) to fast (1/4000sec, and in some cases even as fast as 1/8000sec). For example, an increase from 1/125sec to 1/250sec is a one stop increase, as is 1/1000sec to 1/2000sec. Increasing the shutter speed by one stop halves the amount of light reaching the sensor. Shutter speed have to work together with aperture and compensate each other.

Example: If it’s an incredibly bright day and you’ve selected a wide aperture, you’ll need a very fast shutter speed to avoid over-exposing the sot, owing to the vast amount of light coming through the lens. However, wide aperture focus mainly on the object, the background will be blurred. Slow shutter speeds (long exposure) are usually used to take waterfall, or water blurry shots.

Long exposure shots.

Aperture controls the depth of field and also plays a part in controlling the amount of light coming into the lens. The wider the aperture, means more light coming through the lens. Many photographers especially beginners confused over the f-numbers of the aperture. Let me explain and get this clear for you.

Wider Aperture or Maximum aperture -> Small f-number (f3.5, f1.4)

Smaller aperture -> Bigger f-number (eg f8)

It would seem logical if it is the other way around but sadly this is just something you’ll have to remember. Wider aperture, means more light, and you need to adjust your shutter speed accordingly. Smaller aperture, means lesser light coming through, then your shutter speed have to be slow, and this will cause blurry shots due to shakiness. The relationship between shutter speed and aperture settings is “reciprocal” – open up the aperture one stop and increase the shutter speed one stop and keep the same, correct exposure.


The ISO setting on your camera governs the sensitivity of the camera’s sensor to light. By the way, ISO stands for “International Standards Organisation”. Normally, lower ISO like 100 is the best for day photography as higher the ISO, your image will result in more noise and grainy. However, it has to depends on the scene you are in, let’s say you are indoors for a concert, then a higher ISO is needed to compensate the lighting.

I hope you are clear about these three core components of the camera to take a good shot. Most photographers use Aperture-Priority (AP) mode as they feel controlling the aperture, they can control the depth of field and just let the camera choose the shutter speed based on the aperture selected.

That’s all for today! Have fun photographing!

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