In the realms of videography and photography, mastering the Exposure Triangle is essential, especially in challenging low light conditions. The Exposure Triangle, comprising shutter speed, aperture, and ISO, is the cornerstone of capturing visually stunning and technically sound images and videos. This blog dives deep into each element, exploring their benefits and weaknesses, and offers insights on how to strike the perfect balance for the best low light video and photography.

Understanding the Exposure Triangle

At its core, the Exposure Triangle is a fundamental concept that governs the amount of light entering your camera, and consequently, the brightness of your photos or videos. The three components - shutter speed, aperture, and ISO - work in tandem, and understanding this relationship is crucial for any videographer or photographer.

Shutter Speed: The Timekeeper of Light

Shutter speed determines how long your camera’s sensor is exposed to light. It's like a curtain that opens and closes at varying speeds.

  • Benefits: It allows control over motion blur, enabling you to freeze fast action or create a sense of movement.
  • Weaknesses: In low light, slow shutter speeds can lead to camera shake and blur.
  • Low Light Tips: Use a tripod to stabilize your camera, and experiment with slower speeds to capture more light without sacrificing sharpness. 

Aperture: The Eye of the Camera

Aperture refers to the opening in your lens through which light passes. It affects not only exposure but also the depth of field. One thing to note: Lenses that open wider to let in more light have lower aperture numbers. F/1.2 lenses let in more light than a lens that is F/2.8. 

  • Benefits: It offers creative control over the depth of field, allowing you to isolate subjects or capture detailed landscapes.
  • Weaknesses: Wide apertures can make focusing challenging in low light, and lens limitations might restrict your options. Wide aperture lenses are expensive
  • Low Light Tips: Use wider apertures to let in more light, but be mindful of the depth of field, especially when shooting close-up subjects.

ISO: Amplifying Light Sensitivity

ISO measures your camera sensor’s sensitivity to light. Higher ISO settings make the sensor more sensitive.

  • Benefits: Boosts your camera's ability to capture images in low light. Use a mirrorless or DSLR camera with a full frame sensor and that has high ISO capability.
  • Weaknesses: High ISO can introduce noise, degrading image quality.
  • Low Light Tips: Balance ISO with aperture and shutter speed. Increase ISO only as much as needed to minimize noise.

Balancing the Triangle for Low Light Conditions

The art of low light videography and photography lies in balancing these three elements. While there's no one-size-fits-all setting, understanding the trade-offs is key.

  • Videography vs. Photography: Videography often requires a fixed shutter speed, so balancing aperture and ISO becomes crucial. In photography, you have more flexibility with all three elements.
  • Scenario-Based Settings: Experiment with different combinations for scenarios like night landscapes, urban settings at dusk, or indoor events.

Advanced Tips and Techniques

Beyond the Exposure Triangle, consider external lighting, reflectors, and post-processing to enhance your low light imagery. Experiment with different equipment and settings to discover what works best for your style.


Mastering the Exposure Triangle is a journey of learning and experimentation. By understanding the interplay of shutter speed, aperture, and ISO, and adapting these settings to suit low light conditions, you can elevate your videography and photography to new heights. Embrace the challenge and let your creativity shine, even in the darkest of settings.

Additional Resources

For those eager to delve deeper, explore online tutorials, join photography forums, or attend workshops. The journey of mastering low light videography and photography is continuous and ever-evolving, filled with opportunities to learn and grow.

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About the Author Michael Sundburg