By Aidan O’Sullivan

As the days grow longer and brighter and the wilderness beckons, a camera can be the perfect companion for your summer this year. Today, we have a wide range of options to choose from, including a variety of digital cameras, the ever-improving field of mobile photography, and the resurging popularity of film. This article aims to demystify the world of photography, explaining how it works across different mediums – from film to digital to mobile. Read below to get started along your lifelong journey transitioning from novice to master of the craft in the art of photography.

What The Hell Is Actually Going On?

When you click the release on that shutter button or tap the icon on your phone what is actually happening, and how do the various mediums compare?

Essentially, at its core, every camera is a box with a hole that lets light in, allowing light to be projected onto the opposite side. Light travels in straight lines, and the photographer attempts to capture and depict this light through whatever medium they are using.

In order to do this, lenses are used to bend the light in order to project a sharper image onto the back surface, with the back surface being traditionally covered in a light-sensitive reactive material.


Today, this material takes the form of a sensor in digital cameras or film stock in analogue ones. Phone cameras also use a digital sensor to capture light, but it is non-adjustable. The sensitivity of your camera’s sensor or film stock to light is known as its ISO. The higher your camera’s ISO, the more sensitive it is to light and the less light it needs to take a picture. However, high ISO figures can also degrade the image quality.

The ISO of a digital camera can be adjusted, whereas when using an analogue camera, each roll of film will have a specific ISO that cannot be changed without changing the type of film used.   

In photography, to properly capture the light necessary to create a photograph, photographers adjust the amount of light entering the camera by changing the Aperture and Shutter Speed of the device as well as the sensitivity of the film or sensor to light by changing the ISO.

Together, these three aspects are often referred to as The Exposure Triangle.

To get your desired exposure requires a balancing act between these three elements.


Similar to the Iris controlling the pupil in the eye, changing the aperture in a camera forces the gap in the lens to expand or shrink, controlling the amount of light being projected onto the sensor and, therefore, the quality of the exposure.

Aperture is measured in F stops, with the larger the number reflecting the least amount of light entering the camera and the smaller the number reflecting the opposite.

Additionally, the aperture also affects the depth of field and background of a photo.

Shutter Speed

Shutter speed affects the amount of time the gap in the camera is open, i.e., the time spent light entering the camera. Shutter speed is also often used in low-light scenarios. By raising the shutter speed, you allow more light to enter the camera for longer, generating exposure in conditions where there is a lack of light.

By adjusting the shutter speed, photographers can also create blurred shots or capture quick moments in high definition, such as in sports or wildlife photography.

Unlike mobile phones, digital and analogue cameras allow adjustment of the exposure triangle, enabling photographers to take better photographs.

As summer inches closer, perhaps it is time to invest in capturing the moments in your life in a little better quality and start your journey on the path of learning the art of photography.