How to Use the 5 Second Rule in Photography

In photography, the 5 second rule is a guideline that suggests you take 5 seconds to think about your composition before taking a photo. This brief period of time allows you to evaluate the scene in front of you and make any necessary adjustments to your camera settings or position. It also gives you a chance to take a deep breath and relax before pressing the shutter release.

The 5 second rule is not an absolute, but it can be helpful in ensuring that you don’t miss any important details in your composition. Taking just a few extra seconds to think about your shot can make all the difference in capturing a stunning image.

Exposure. Exposure is the basic element of any photograph taken and recorded

The amount of light that reaches the film or image sensor. Without adequate exposure, no photograph can be taken.

Proper exposure is essential to getting a good photograph. Many factors contribute to proper exposure, including aperture, shutter speed, and ISO setting. The goal of proper exposure is to produce an image that is neither too dark nor too light.

Aperture: The aperture setting on a camera controls the size of the opening in the lens through which light passes. A large aperture (low f-stop number) lets in more light than a small one (high f-stop number). Shutter Speed: The shutter speed is the amount of time that the camera’s shutter is open while taking a photograph. A fast shutter speed (1/500 second or faster) freezes motion, while a slow shutter speed (1 second or longer) captures movement blur.: ISO Setting: The ISO setting determines how sensitive your camera’s sensor is to light.

Aperture. Aperture is the setting which controls the size of the opening of light which comes through to the lens

Aperture is an important setting for photographers because it affects the amount of light that enters the camera and hits the image sensor. A large aperture (or “wide open”) lets in more light, while a small aperture (or “stopped down”) lets in less light. The size of the aperture also affects how much of the scene is in focus – a large aperture results in a shallow depth of field, where only a small portion of the scene is in sharp focus, while a small aperture gives you a deep depth of field, where more of the scene is in focus.

There are two main ways to control the size of your aperture: changing the lens you’re using, or changing your camera’s settings. If you’re using a DSLR or mirror less camera, you can usually change your aperture by turning the dial on your camera body. On most point-and-shoot cameras, you’ll need to enter into menu mode and change the setting there.

The size of your lens’ maximum aperture will be printed on its barrel – for example, if it says “f/2.8,” that means that at its widest setting, this particular lens will let in an maximum amount of light equal to what an f/2.8 hole would allow through. Some lenses have wider maximum apertures than others – for example, fast prime lenses often have maxima as wide as f/1.4 or f/1.8 – which can be helpful when shooting in low-light situations or when trying to achieve a shallow depth-of-field effect.:

One final note on terminology: When people talk about “fast” lenses, they typically mean lenses with wider maximum apertures – like f/2.

Shutter Speed

Aperture and shutter speed are inversely proportional: if one decreases, the other increases. For example, if one stops down the aperture to allow less light into the camera (to make it darker), then one must compensate by increasing the shutter speed to allow more light to reach the film or image sensor.

The relationship between aperture and shutter speed is often referred to as “the Exposure Triangle”.


The term “ISO” as used in photography refers to the sensitivity of film or a digital sensor to light. A higher ISO number means greater sensitivity to light, thus allowing for faster shutter speeds and/or smaller apertures when taking photos in low-light conditions. However, increasing the ISO also increases image noise (graininess).

Combining the three

The 5 second rule in photography is a guideline that suggests that you should wait at least 5 seconds after taking a photo before moving your camera. This allows the image to be fully captured on the sensor and prevents any blurriness that can occur if you move too soon.

There are a few reasons why you might want to wait 5 seconds before moving your camera. First, it ensures that the entire scene is captured on the sensor. If you move too soon, part of the scene may be cut off or blurry. Second, it allows for any motion blur to dissipate. If there is any movement in the scene, such as people walking or cars driving, waiting 5 seconds will help to avoid capturing that motion and creating a blurry image. Finally, it gives you time to check your composition and make sure everything looks good before moving on.

Of course, there are always exceptions to the rule and there will be times when waiting 5 seconds just isn’t possible or practical. But if you can manage it, following the 5 second rule will help you capture sharper, clearer photos.

I'm a photography enthusiast with a passion for classic film cameras and writing. I believe that photography is a powerful tool for storytelling and I strive to create images that are evocative and meaningful. I hope you enjoy my work!