Exposure to the left?

Discussion in 'Open Discussion' started by alaios, Jan 16, 2014.

  1. alaios

    alaios TalkEmount All-Pro

    Jan 11, 2013
  2. Digitalsafari

    Digitalsafari New to TalkEmount

    Jan 10, 2014

    Matt says expose to the left but don't go too far and crush the shadows.

    To put it another way, from my experience you want to expose a little to the right so the shadow detail is not crushed, on older digital sensors* with lots of sensor noise you would expose a bit further to right to get the shadows out of the sensor's noise. At the same time you need to avoid clipping the highlights.

    * NEX 16MP and above sensors are low noise, can't comment on the original 14MP.

    Basically avoid clipping and crushing.
  3. mattia

    mattia TalkEmount Regular

    Dec 13, 2013
    I don't really agree - basically, pulling up shadows increases noise, although it is usually easier/less painful than completely blown highlights in large areas of the image (unless that was the intention). It demands a great deal more from your sensor, and does little to make the most of the dynamic range available to you from the camera. For me, for landscape in particular, exposing to the right is all about retaining maximum detail in the highlights and darker areas without blowing it out. Shooting in lower light, shooting people, well, it depends. I'm less concerned with small blown out areas indoors (e.g. lights in a bar), more concerned about getting the 'right' exposure for the shot I want to see, and for my subject.
  4. Bill

    Bill TalkEmount Veteran

    Oct 22, 2012
    Brisbane, Australia
    First, we are only talking about RAW captures here. There isn’t enough information in the shadow portions of JPEGs to be thinking about that kind of manipulation.

    Expose To The Right (ETTR) is a tactic designed to exploit the way that digital files are organised. The tactic is based on the recognition that half the digital data of any photo is in the brightest stop, half of the remaining data is in the next stop, and so on. This means that when you get down to the shadows, there’s not much information left to be manipulated.

    The effect of ETTR in a shot is nothing more than reducing its ISO.

    So yes, it’s easier to manipulate the information in that brightest stop, as opposed to the darkest -- the difference between night and day.

    The video suggests that it’s better (or at least as good) to bring information “up” from a darker portion of the exposure range, rather than bringing information “down” from a brighter one. I think that’s quite wrong in principle. But there’s a bit more going on -- pushing you one way and then the other.

    Digital files roll off to pure white (blown highlights) more quickly than most film actually did. And, once you've clipped a highlight, then it's clipped. So the danger of blowing a highlight should make you a bit conservative. If a shiny nose or forehead get blown, for example, then the portrait is done.

    Histograms are not always perfectly accurate. To keep you from over-exposing, the designers may be letting their histograms suggest you’re in more dangerous territory than you think. That’s just another way of saying, they let you underexpose.

    The histogram that you see in live view is only showing the composite luminance of all the channels. It might be that even though the histogram seems fine, one of the channels might be somewhat different.

    ETTR, as a tactic, was particularly useful when the exposure ranges of camera sensors weren’t what they are today. Cameras are now much better at delivering files with lower levels of noise.

    So, if:

    • the exposure range of your scene falls comfortably within the exposure range of your sensor; and
    • you’re already at the base ISO; and
    • there is detail in the shadows that you will want to bring out; and
    • the shot will be displayed in a medium where that shadow detail will actually show; and
    • no part of the scene will get blown by moving to the right (except those that you don’t mind being blown, such as spectral highlights); and
    • you have the time to consider all these matters while still getting the shot; then

    Go ahead, expose to the right.
    • Like Like x 7
  5. alaios

    alaios TalkEmount All-Pro

    Jan 11, 2013
    enjoyed most the death by bullet points :)
  6. Bill

    Bill TalkEmount Veteran

    Oct 22, 2012
    Brisbane, Australia
    There's a reason their called "bullets."
    (I do expose to the right once in a while. But I've never exposed to the left.)