Which is the better exposure?

Discussion in 'Open Discussion' started by fractal, Aug 24, 2015.

  1. A

    5 vote(s)
    83.3%
  2. B

    1 vote(s)
    16.7%
  1. fractal

    fractal TalkEmount All-Pro

    Jun 17, 2014
    Southeastern PA
    Chris
    I've been reading up on digital exposure and if anything it's made me more confused.
    Anyway - I would like to pose the questions; which of the following two shots is a better exposure.

    A

    DSC08248-XL.

    B

    DSC08249-XL.

    Comments welcome.
     
  2. NickCyprus

    NickCyprus Super Moderator

    Oct 11, 2012
    Cyprus
    Nick
    To my eyes, I would have liked a combination of both...

    To make myself more clear, I prefer the exposure of the sky on photo #2 (sky on #1 is a little over-exposed) but prefer the exposure of the lower part (and especially of the people) on photo #1 (people on #1 are a little under-exposed).

    I think you could try the Radial Filter in LR to "fix" the exposure of the people on photo #2 or lower the exposure of the sky on photo #2 again in LR
     
    • Like Like x 1
  3. Deadbear77

    Deadbear77 TalkEmount Hall of Famer

    Sep 14, 2012
    Northeast Ohio
    Kevin
    A would be great if you turn the highlights down a bit in the water.
     
    • Like Like x 1
  4. AlwaysOnAuto

    AlwaysOnAuto TalkEmount Top Veteran

    723
    Feb 17, 2015
    To be honest, those look a lot like what I'd get out of my camera as A being the camera jpeg version of B the RAW file version, if it'd been shot with my Nex-7.
     
    • Like Like x 1
    • Agree Agree x 1
  5. WoodWorks

    WoodWorks Super Moderator

    Dec 12, 2012
    Ashland, OR, USA
    David
    I agree with all of the above. If I were shooting jpegs, A would be the better one, even though the highlights are blown out. But if I were shooting raw, then B would allow me much more breathing room, and I'd end up with a better image than A.
     
    • Like Like x 1
  6. fractal

    fractal TalkEmount All-Pro

    Jun 17, 2014
    Southeastern PA
    Chris
    It seems my challenge is dealing with highlights in high contrast situations. I've noticed in some of my shots the foreground is properly exposed but the background is "blown out". Some recent articles I've read advise to expose based on the brightest whites and everything else will fall in place,(ETTR) but by doing so I may be significantly underexposing the actual subject.
     
  7. WNG

    WNG TalkEmount All-Pro

    Aug 12, 2014
    Arrid Zone-A, USA
    Will
    Ah, the challenge of shooting towards a bright light source. Both images IMO are textbook correct. I think the subject priority dictates whether blowing out a portion of the image is acceptable. The kids in the foreground in A are well exposed. But B has more information and detail in the splash and sky. One can see the child about to be splashed on the bridge much better. I think he and the water are the subject. So, the under-exposed foreground is accepted. I like B. If the kids in the foreground are your priority, then A is best.

    I go by the old tip that it's best to under-expose than to over-expose. You can recover more info from under exposure, but not the other way around.

    This situation is a candidate for HDR. As Nick said, a blend of both exposures to get the exposure right.
     
    • Agree Agree x 2
    • Like Like x 1
  8. jai

    jai TalkEmount Top Veteran

    589
    Feb 4, 2013
    I think I would take photo B, and use a graduated filter to bring up the exposure and shadows in the bottom half of the photo. The subject of the photo is the water, so it is better to see more detail in it.

    I have been learning more about "exposure" lately, and have started to think about it differently.

    When looking for the correct exposure, concentrate only on the midtones of the image. Forget about the highlights and shadows, get the midtones right first. And when you shift exposure up and down in lightroom, this is what you are changing, midtones.

    Once you have the midtones where you want them, then you can tweak the shadows, highlights, blacks and whites sliders. The creative choice becomes do you want to bring back detail in highlights and shadows, or pull them further away from the midtones for more contast.

    This is all based on the modern version of the zone system, which is a real rabbit hole if you want to read more about it...
     
    • Like Like x 1
  9. AlwaysOnAuto

    AlwaysOnAuto TalkEmount Top Veteran

    723
    Feb 17, 2015
  10. Jazzer

    Jazzer TalkEmount Veteran

    344
    Nov 6, 2012
    New York
    Larry
    This is an interesting and timely topic. I shot a 3 bracket HDR image last week, but was unhappy with the combined results due to halos that I was having difficulty getting rid of. So I took the underexposed image (because it preserved highlights) and opened the shadows in LR. I thought I had gotten the image "reasonably" close to the HDR but without the halo issue. However, when I explained to another photographer what I did, he told me that using the underexposed image was the worst thing I could do, because with each stop of underexposure you lose half of the data. Is that true?

    Of course, if the highlights are completely blown in a brighter exposure, then halving some of the shadow detail (even if reduced) certainly beats having none of the highlights :).
     
    • Like Like x 1
  11. WoodWorks

    WoodWorks Super Moderator

    Dec 12, 2012
    Ashland, OR, USA
    David
    Exactly!

    While it's true that the brightest part of the dynamic range contains the bulk of the data, that truth gets negated if some of that range is blown-out data.
     
    • Like Like x 1
    • Informative Informative x 1
  12. Jazzer

    Jazzer TalkEmount Veteran

    344
    Nov 6, 2012
    New York
    Larry
    One other thing that I learned in relation to this issue (which may be obvious to some) is that the histogram on the camera is not accurate if you are shooting RAW. Because it is based upon a jpeg interpretation of the image rather than the actual RAW data it tends to be conservative and indicates that highlights are blown when they actually would not be when brought into a decent RAW editor like Lightroom. I did a test with my A6000 and found that I probably have at least about an extra stop of exposure I can push beyond the point where the highlights start blinking and the histogram on the camera starts to show peaking on the right side before I have actually lost any highlight data.
     
    • Informative Informative x 1
  13. jai

    jai TalkEmount Top Veteran

    589
    Feb 4, 2013
    Keep in mind lightroom and other editors have algorithms to recover highlights that actually have been slightly blown, I think they must use the detail around the blown out sections to estimate what detail there would have been.

    If you recover too much this way it looks unnatural.

    In my opinion the best way to avoid this is to shoot stills with zebras on, and I have my main dial on my a6000 set to exposure comp so as soon as I see zebras I can quickly dial it back.

    But I think it all comes down to, what is the subject of the photo? It is fine to lose detail in highlights or shadows of the photo if they are not part of the subject. After all, this is what you are doing with a high key / low key portrait. But in the example above, you are looking at the water first.
     
    • Agree Agree x 2
  14. chalkdust

    chalkdust TalkEmount Veteran

    283
    Sep 25, 2015
    Bert Cheney
    I slightly prefer A, but I think I could make an image I like from either exposure. I am most interested in viewing what Fractal likes best, with the understanding that his preferences may change over time.