Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Kill the Exposure Triangle

There is this appalling little graphic that gets tossed around to "explain" exposure. It's a triangle. The sides, or sometimes the points, are labelled Shutter Speed, Aperture, and ISO generally. There may be some arrows in there, there might get regions within the triangle called out. There might be other words pasted on there like Blur and Grain.

There are two true things about this piece of chartjunk: firstly, it explains absolutely nothing; secondly, through some Zen alchemy, it seems to crystallize the relevant ideas for some people. If you poke around, you'll find plenty of people who tell you that they never got exposure until they learned about the Exposure Triangle. They use it to explain it to their friends. If you dig in a bit further, you'll find a truly bewildering array of explanations. Nobody seems to see this stupid thing the same way.

If you pose the question:

What question about exposure can be answered by examining the Exposure Triangle diagram?

you will be greeted by silence. Of course there is no such question, the Exposure Triangle answers no questions, and provides no intuition into the relationships between the things it purports to explain. I can only assume that, somehow, the picture causes knowledge newbies have been struggling with to somehow crystallize and clarify itself.

Anyways. This thing is terrible.

Here's something else that's terrible, but which at any rate gives some intuition. This is an info-graphic. It gives you nothing at a glance, but it tells you quite a lot with a little study.

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