Challenge 3: Camera Skills:

The Exposure Triangle

Project Description


Photoshoot: Film Roll #2 – Camera Skills

Creating an image without a camera can be challenging since it’s necessary to determine how the image processing works. Using photosensitive chemicals and sunlight, one can creatively make an image with simple composition skills.

On this assignment, you should include skills that demonstrate the following:

  • Shallow Depth of Field
  • Deep Depth of Field
  • Slow Shutter Speed
  • Fast Shutter Speed
  • Panning
  • Night Shot

Importance of the Camera Aperture

Understanding the importance of the aperture and shutter speed of film cameras is one of the most important steps to basic film photography for beginners. The aperture of a film camera is the hole in the lens that opens or closes to let more or less light into the camera to expose the film. The aperture settings work with the shutter speed of the camera body to determine length of film exposure. The aperture settings of a film camera lens, whether a 35mm, medium format, or large format camera, is set by what are known as f-stops. All lenses are marked with specified f-numbers, which are numbers marking the ratio of focal length to the diameter of the hole. The lower the f-stop number the larger the aperture hole becomes, allowing more light in to expose the film. Conversely, the larger f-stops numbers equate to a narrower hole. For basic photography tips, just remember to think in opposites for the aperture; small numbers equal a larger opening and larger numbers equal a smaller opening.

What is “Depth of Field?”

Depth of field is one of many basic film photography tips to heighten the look of a photograph. In short, it is the distance between the foreground and background of the subject that appears to be in focus. There are two types of depth of field – shallow and deep. Shallow depth of field involves one point of focus with the foreground and/or background blurred. Conversely, deep (maximum) depth of field puts nearly everything in focus. Change in depth of field is not an immediate transition between sharp to unsharp. Instead, there is a gradual transition of sharpness to fuzziness to totally out of focus areas.

How to Control Depth of Field

Depth of field is controlled, mostly, by the aperture settings of a film camera lens. It can also change depending on the focal distance of the subject to your camera. With aperture settings, the larger the aperture opening (smaller f-stop numbers) and closer the focal distance, the shallower the depth of field will result. On the other hand, small aperture openings (larger f-stop numbers) and farther focal distances will equate to a greater/deeper depth of field.

What is Shutter Speed?

Camera shutter speed works hand in hand with the aperture settings of a film camera lens to achieve a good exposure. Any guide to photography will stress the importance of correct shutter speed and aperture settings of your 35mm film camera, medium format camera, or large format camera. Whereas the camera aperture sets the amount of light allow through the lens, the shutter speed dictates how fast the shutter opens and closes to allow more or less light in to expose the film. And while the aperture will determine depth of field, the shutter speed will capture motion. If your subject is moving, a slow shutter speed will result in a blurry subject. A fast shutter speed will capture the subject nearly instantly to capture one frame of that movement.

How to Measure Shutter Speed on a Film Camera

The majority of film cameras have multiple shutter speed settings on the shutter speed dial. They will typically read, in order, 1-2-4-8-15-30-60-125-250-500-1000-2000-4000 and possibly more. Be aware that these numbers do not equate to full seconds. 1 is equivalent to 1 second, but 2 is actually 1/2 second, 4 is 1/4 second, etc. Therefore, a shutter speed of 1/125 will allow more light than 1/500 and is a longer exposure. This becomes prime importance because if there is a slow shutter speed you may see some resulting blurriness from the subject moving or your hands moving the camera slightly. A general rule of thumb is that anything slower than 1/60 requires the use of a tripod to avoid blurriness.

Be sure to set your camera to the ISO rating of the film you are using. ISO refers to the speed of the film, or how sensitive the film is to light. Lower numbers (such as 100, 200) are less sensitive and have smaller silver crystals in the emulsion, creating less grain in your photos. Higher ISO speeds have larger silver crystals and create more grain in your photos.


Upload your Photo


  • BE NAMED CORRECTLY: FILENAME: Your#-YourName-Assignment-Description.jpg.
  • Have the TITLE and CAPTION added in the Lightroom METADATA panel before exporting/uploading.
  • HAVE YOUR NAME AND COPYRIGHT EMBEDDED FOR CREDIT. Embed your info with your Metadata Preset in the Import Dialog Box in Lightroom when importing your photos.

After you upload your photo, turn in your PDF Contact Sheet to the Hand-in Folder BEFORE DUE DATE to receive a grade. Grades are not issued without a contact sheet.

View Galleries

Project Details

  • Client Basic Film Photography
  • Date October 27, 2016
  • Tags BFP Challenges
Launch Project

Related Projects

Back to Top