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Premier, award-winning contemporary glamour and fine art photography, specializing in timeless portraits of women and their families. Serving the greater Boston and Providence areas.

the exposure triangle and how it relates to taking better photos of your family {photography tips}

Ok, so on Thursday I posted about 3 quick and easy photography tips for taking better family photos. But even if you do follow those three tips, some of your pictures are ending up way too dark, some are too grainy, some are too blurry. What gives?! Well, that's where the exposure triangle comes in!

First, let's review the 3 photography tips from Thursday:

Photography Tip #1: Frame that shot!

Fill your frame with your kiddos mugs!

Photography Tip #2: Remember the "Rule of Thirds"

Offset those kiddos faces and actions off to one side to add interest!

Photography Tip #3: Add the drama!

Take the photo from an odd angle or behind an obstruction...it always adds drama to the shot.

Ok, so now your photos are framed well, but how do you solve the issue of exposure? The key is in the exposure triangle. Photographers always talk about the exposure triangle but what exactly is it??

The exposure triangle is made of three components: ISO, Aperture, and Shutter Speed.

In the next couple of blog posts, I'm going to talk about each one and what that means to your own family photos. But let's start today with Shutter Speed.

Shutter speed is the amount of time the shutter is open (how fast the lens opens and closes). If it opens and closes really fast, a very small amount of light enters the lens. If it opens and closes slow, a lot more light is let in. 

Shutter speed is a high priority when you have an object in motion (an energetic child is a GREAT example....those kiddos are ALWAYS in motion!)

Take a look at the image below. 

fast shutter speed child in motion

If I had taken this with a very slow shutter speed, those cattail seeds blowing in the wind would have disappeared into the background. The little girl's expression would have been blurry and her hands would not have even been remotely held in one spot. This picture would have been all over the place!

But using a fast shutter speed (the lens opened and closed incredibly fast) allowed me to capture that moment of laughter, of surprise, and energy of the child.

Ok, so we know what fast and slow shutter speed is and what effect it has on the picture. But the camera relates shutter speed in terms of numbers (like 1/1000, 1/200, 1/2). What do those numbers mean? 

Below is a great example of how the numbers on your camera relates to the image crispness. 

The numbers that you see are related to how many seconds the shutter is open. On the image above, 1/1000th of a second is VERY fast and will give you a nice crisp picture when someone is in motion. But going to a slow 1/2 second shutter speed keeps the shutter open much longer, making the subject much more blurry.

The best thing to do is practice with shutter speed in manual mode on your camera. Change the shutter speeds and see what kind of effects you get. Of course, you're going to notice some photos are way to bright and some are coming out way too dark. That's because shutter speed also relates to how much light comes into the camera. A fast shutter speed lets in very little light, so your pictures are going to be dark. A slow shutter speed lets in much more light (the shutter is open longer), so the pictures will be much brighter. How do you combat that? Well, that gets us back to the exposure triangle and how the shutter speed relates to the other two elements: ISO and Aperture. The three work together to create the most beautiful, perfectly lit photos.

But we'll talk about Aperture and ISO in another post. For now, practice with shutter speed, see how it affects your photos. Don't be upset when they are too light or dark - just practice with the speed! And don't forget to tag your photos with #immovinglives so that we can all practice together! 

And remember - check out the packages Moving Lives offers - if you're looking to get a great family photo AND some time to learn about taking your own photos of your kids, this is the place for you! I offer a family photo session that not only will get you some great treasured family photos, but also some time to discuss how to use your own camera and take some better photos!