Exposure Made Simple: All You Need to Know About Aperture, Shutter Speed and ISO (VIDEO)

If you’re relatively new to shooting with a “real” camera, or you just need a refresher on how aperture, shutter speed, and ISO interact to create a perfect exposure, the camera primer below is for you. In just seven minutes, this tutorial is guaranteed to make you a better and more intuitive photographer.

Photographer Chris Nicholas is a transplanted Newfoundlander now living in Buffalo, NY. He’s a firm believer that the more you understand about how a camera works, the better your images will be. And here, he makes the task of nailing perfect exposures ridiculously simple, so you can concentrate on the more creative aspects of photography.

The video begins with a simple explanation of how a camera’s light meter works, and how to know when an image will be under- or overexposed. You'll also see how a “complex” scene, with a wide range of brightness values, can confuse the camera and require you to intervene.

You’ll get a quick review of the exposure triangle, and see how the aperture setting (measured in f/stops) increases or reduces the amount of light entering the camera. Nicholas provides an equally simple explanation of how the shutter speed you select determines the amount of time the camera’s sensor is exposed to light.

Finally, Nicholas demonstrates how the ISO setting you choose determines the degree to which a camera’s sensor is sensitive to light—sort of like how cranking up the volume dial on a stereo boosts the sound. All three variables—aperture, shutter speed, and ISO—each affect how an image appears in their own unique way, and that’s the real key to this tutorial.

You can find more helpful tips on the Becki and Chris YouTube channel. And be sure to look at another camera primer we posted recently, with the five biggest misconceptions about photography, and what they mean to you.