When first getting started we all learn a bunch of so-call “rules of photography.” Some of these are more useful that others, and many are meant to be broken in certain situations. In the quick tutorial below, one of our favorite landscape photographers expresses his objection to the popular Exposure Triangle and he insists there’s a better way to get the light right.
Christian Irmler is a German landscape photographer whose tutorials can be controversial, and this one is no exception. He kicks off this video with an emphatic warning: “Forget everything you’re heard about the Exposure Triangle— it’s holding you back from getting really great photos.”
Irmler goes on to explain that most photographers have learned this common rule “in a totally wrong way,” that’s why they struggle to get things right for months or even years. He acknowledges the important interplay been ISO, shutter speed, and aperture, and demonstrates how pros use the Exposure Triangle properly, or actually do something entirely different instead.
After reviewing how most photographers interpret the Exposure Triangle Irmler explains the dilemma, particularly as how it can confuse less-experienced shooters. He also discusses why this familiar rule may cause some photographers to select incorrect camera settings that cause them to miss the shot.
According to Irmler, confusion often results because the way you use the Exposure Triangle affects more than just exposure. That because “each of the three components leads to photos with a different style,” that you may or may not intend.
Irmler has what he says is a better option: A Stylistic Triangle whereby you manipulate the interplay between ISO, shutter speed, and aperture in a way that arrives at a correct exposure while creating the exact “look” you’re after depending upon the task at hand.
This may mean taking one approach when depth of field is the key variable when shooting landscape photos, another for maximizing shutter speed with sports/action shots, or doing something else when motion blur is the goal. Irmler also reveals how the foregoing contributes to “my most important stylistic Instrument.
After watching the video take a look at Irmler’s instruction YouTube channel where there’s much more to learn.
We also recommend watching the tutorial we posted earlier, explaining a composition trick from another accomplished pro that will transform your landscape photography.