Exposure is one of the basic terms used in photography. In photo contests, exposure is played according to the artist perspective in trying to produce a perfect image. This is determined by the sensitivity of the medium used. Some artists still use photographic films in photo contests to fool around with the exposure since more advanced cameras requires less exposure and has a higher ISO rating.

The Exposure Triangle is composed of elements:

ISO, Aperture and the Shutter Speed.ISO - the measure of a digital camera sensor’s sensitivity to light
Aperture - the size of the opening in the lens when a picture is taken
Shutter Speed - the amount of time that the shutter is open

Each of the three factors play a part of its own in relation to light. According to an expert photo competition editor, the intersection of these three elements works out the correct exposure of an image. Another thing to keep in mind if try to use this technique in actual photo competitions is you can't totally favor one element from another. This means that you can never really focus on ISO alone but you have to consider all three elements to create a desirable portrait.

For us to fully comprehend and remember the relationship of the elements in the exposure triangle, Darren Rowse make use of metaphors. Here are some of the metaphors he used.

The Window

Here, Rowse described the camera as a window with shutters that open and close. He characterized the size of the window as the aperture and the shutter speed to be the amount of time the shutters of the window is left open. The concept is very similar to the actual triangle and you can practically imagine his metaphor even if your in the middle of a photo competition you will easily rememberRowse's "The Window". Now imagine yourself inside the room where the window is and are wearing sunglasses. Your eyes become desensitized to the light that comes in - this exhibits a low ISO scenario. To increase the size of the ISO, all you have to do is brighten the room. Do this by increasing the time that the shutters are open (decrease shutter speed) or you could increase the dimension of the window (increase aperture) or you can take off your glasses (make the ISO larger).


This metaphor is a lot easier to digest since I personally have had experience being under the sun to get myself tanned. A friend of Danny's shared this with him and I bet he's into photography contests too. The concept here is that your skin type would be the ISO rating since everyone has different sensitivity with the sun's ray. The shutter speed would be the time you keep yourself under the sun. Having sunburns mean you are over exposed, well that's a fact. The aperture is the sun lotion you apply to your skin to protect it from too much heat. Here, the strength of the sun lotion determines the relationship of it to the amount of time you can be under the sun. The stronger the lotion, the longer you can expose your body and as a result even a person with sensitive skin can soak a little longer.

Now I hope you have that light bulb over your head on the concept of exposure. Mastering exposure is very tricky and even expert photographers have to adjust their setting once in a while. When you try to experiment with exposure, whether at home, as you travel or even in photography contests, always remember that changing each element in the exposure triangle not only impacts the exposure of the image but each one also has an impact upon other aspects of it.

If you're really eager to know some combination settings for ISO, Aperture and Shutter Speed you should try searching for advices from picture contest sites or forums. You will find many suggestion and ideas there. Picture contest sites are everywhere so you won't have a hard time finding a good one.

Author's Bio: 

James D. Humphrey is one of the developers and sales executive of Photo laureates. The site's photo contest provide a platform of artistic expression for amateur and professional photographers to gain exposure and recognition. We promote photographers through technical workshops, improvisation sessions as well as photography contests. Its renowned Photography Society identifies, awards and promotes new Photography Talent.