Photo Basics: What Are Aperture, Shutter Speed, and ISO (VIDEO)

Kellan Reck, a two-time Emmy Award-winning editor and cinematographer, shared the below video with us today and it’s a great primer (or, for some of you, a refresher course) on the basics of photography.

In the video, Reck presents an easy-to-understand but informed tutorial on the “big three” of exposure: aperture, shutter speed and ISO. In less than five minutes, Reck walks you through the meaning of each term, and shows you why they’re so important to photography.

But first, he shares this helpful “cheat sheet” on aperture, shutter speed, and ISO from Daniel Peters at Fotoblog Hamburg to get you started.

Reck notes that each member of “the big three” serves two main functions: exposure control and artistic control. So, for instance, while aperture controls the amount of light let in through the lens, it also affects depth of field, letting you create a shallow depth of field (using a lower f/stop number) for a more cinematic look in your images, or a larger depth of field (higher f/stop number) when you want everything in focus, such as in a landscape photo.

You can see more of Reck’s helpful videos on his YouTube channel. You should also check out the following "Photo Basics" tutorials we’ve featured on previously:

Understanding Hyperfocal Distance, Depth of Field, and How Focus Works

Why the Histogram Is So Important and How to Use It for Better Photographs

Understanding the Power of “Auto ISO” and Knowing When to Use It