Photographers, Forget The Exposure Triangle, Embrace The Exposure Quadrangle

Image: Fshoq!, licensed under CC by 4.0

Regardless of whether you're an amateur photographer or seasoned pro, you've undoubtedly heard of the "exposure triangle". Put simply, a camera's shutter speed, ISO and aperture are the key settings that determine how exposed the final image is. But one photographer argues we're missing an element, one so critical we should consider the triangle to be more of a square.

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Studio 858's Edward Crim has put forward the idea that, while shutter speed, ISO and aperture modify how light affects a shot, the quality and type of light itself plays a massive role. There's also the fact that the three variables are meaningless without light.

Crim expands on why the triangle isn't good enough these days:

The “exposure triangle” concept is flawed not only in that it overlooks the most important ingredient of photography, but it is also flawed in that the sides do not correlate in any meaningful way.

In other words, they don’t tell you what exposure to use, which makes it, well, by definition, rather useless. It only deals with the camera controls and does not deal with light level.

He goes on to say that while the "quadrangle" is an improvement, it's no better for calculating exposure. For that, you'll need some help, in the form of a guide like this one below, designed by Andrew R. Lawn.

Image: Andrew R. Lawn

Using the guide, you can get some ballpark settings for various lighting conditions, and tweak from there. Why not give it a try next time you head out for that perfect shot?

The Exposure Quadrangle [Studio 858, via PetaPixel]


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