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  • Writer's pictureJefferson Figueiredo

Fundamentals of Photography: ISO, Aperture and Shutter Speed

Photography is an art that combines technique and creativity and to capture stunning images, it is essential to understand the three pillars of photography: ISO, aperture and shutter speed. These elements work together to determine the exposure, clarity, and style of your photos. Let's explore each of them in detail.


It refers to the sensitivity of the camera sensor to light. A low ISO value (e.g. 100 or 200) means the sensor is less sensitive to light, ideal for bright lighting conditions. On the other hand, a high ISO value (like 1600 or more) increases the sensitivity of the sensor, allowing you to shoot in low light conditions.

Advantages and Disadvantages of ISO

- Low ISO:  Produces images with less noise (grain), but requires more light, which is perfect for outdoor photos on sunny days.

- High OS: Allows you to take photos in dark environments without needing a tripod, but it can introduce noise into photos, reducing image quality.


Refers to the size of the opening in the camera lens diaphragm, controlling the amount of light that reaches the sensor. It is measured in f-stops (e.g. f/2.8, f/4, f/8). A smaller f-stop number indicates a larger aperture, letting in more light, while a larger f-stop number indicates a smaller aperture, letting in less light.

Impact of Aperture on Photography

- Depth of Field: Aperture also affects depth of field, which is the area of ​​the image that appears sharp. Larger apertures (smaller f-stop numbers) create a shallow depth of field, blurring the background and highlighting the main subject, ideal for portraits. Smaller apertures (larger f-stop numbers) increase depth of field, keeping more elements of the scene in focus, suitable for landscapes.

Shutter Speed

Determines how long the camera shutter remains open to expose the sensor to light. It is measured in fractions of a second (e.g. 1/500, 1/60) or whole seconds for long exposures.

Shutter Speed ​​Effects:

- Action Freeze: High speeds (such as 1/1000) freeze fast movements, capturing sporting actions or animals in motion.

- Intentional Motion: Low speeds (such as 1/30 or slower) can create blurring effects, ideal for conveying motion in images of waterfalls or urban traffic.

Balance between ISO, Aperture and Shutter Speed

The key to perfect exposure is balancing ISO, aperture and shutter speed. Changing one of these elements affects the others. For example, increasing the ISO allows you to use a faster shutter speed or a smaller aperture in low-light environments. Likewise, adjusting the aperture influences the depth of field and the amount of light needed, which may require adjustments to shutter speed or ISO.


Practical example

If you are shooting in a dark environment and want to avoid using a tripod, you can increase the ISO and open the aperture to let in more light. However, remember that too high an ISO can introduce noise, and too wide an aperture can result in a shallow depth of field.


Understanding and mastering ISO, aperture and shutter speed is essential for any photographer who wants to get the most out of their camera. These three pillars of photography are interdependent and must be adjusted in harmony to capture the perfect image. Experiment with different settings to see how each element affects your photos and develop your own style that highlights your creativity and artistic vision.



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