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Expose to the right
Don't worry - I never understand the tutorials in Luminous landscapes either!.

Exposing to the right means having the HISTOGRAM for an exposure shifted further towards the right. A histogram in dogital photography simply tells you how much darkness, mid-tone or brightness there is in a photograph..

If the hsitogram is more towards the left, it means that a greater part of the scene has shadows (or darkness)..

If the hsitogram is more otwards the right, it means that a greater part of the scene has highlights (or brightness).

Because of the method by which an electronic sensor in a digital camera records light information, it is better to slightly over-expose a scene - in other words have the histogram shifted to the right - than compared to film..

Slight over-exposure makes it possible for you to retrieve more information from the highlight areas during post processing. If you under-expose it, you could still retrieve some more information, but there would be a lot of 'noise' too..

Hope that makes it a bit clearer. And I hope someone will correct me if I'm wrong!.

Regards.

AH..

Comments (13)

Photophile wrote:.

Exposing to the right means having the HISTOGRAM for an exposureshifted further towards the right. A histogram in dogital photographysimply tells you how much darkness, mid-tone or brightness there isin a photograph..

If the hsitogram is more towards the left, it means that a greaterpart of the scene has shadows (or darkness)..

If the hsitogram is more otwards the right, it means that a greaterpart of the scene has highlights (or brightness).

Because of the method by which an electronic sensor in a digitalcamera records light information, it is better to slightlyover-expose a scene - in other words have the histogram shifted tothe right - than compared to film..

Slight over-exposure makes it possible for you to retrieve moreinformation from the highlight areas during post processing. If youunder-expose it, you could still retrieve some more information, butthere would be a lot of 'noise' too..

Hope that makes it a bit clearer. And I hope someone will correct meif I'm wrong!.

OK...you're wrong. Now, let's see if I can make that case in a way that both you and the OP will understand....

First, let's discuss JPEG pix....

With a DC, exposing past the "right" causes blown highlights. There is no recovery, so generally you don't want to do that. In contrast, it's easy to pull out the detail in the shadows. What you DO want to do is to get the brightest part(s) of the pic VERY near the "right". Doing that uses all the DR that your camera has..

Now let's discuss RAW pix....

Some cameras leave a LOT of headroom in the highlights when using their RAW format. This allows you to recover SOME of the blown highlights (in the JPEG version). You should take some test shots to discover HOW MUCH headroom there is with your camera. That will allow you to violate the "expose to the right" rule, by actually "exposing past the right" and still get good pix..

The "expose to the right" rule simply is saying that you should NOT underexpose. Doing this increases the noise and loses some DR..

Charlie DavisNikon 5700, Sony R1, Nikon D300HomePage: http://www.1derful.infoBridge Blog: http://www.here-ugo.com/BridgeBlog/'Experience: Discovering that a claw hammer will bend nails.Epiphany: Discovering that a claw hammer is two tools...'..

Comment #1

I'm not sure whether you don't understand the process of exposing to the right or the reason why (which is the complicated part of the question). I'll offer you my explanation of the process side of this issue..

The "to the right" refers to the location of the tonal values on the histogram. Tonal values on the right side of the histogram represent brighter values than the values on the left. One school of thought was that it was better to underexpose an image (tonal values would be towards the left on a histogram) in order to preserve the highlights. The reason was that underexposed areas could be adjusted in post processing whereas overexposed/blown highlights can not be fixed after the fact. The expose to the right theory says that you should not underexpose an image. You should expose for mid range or brighter tones.



If you still don't understand the process you're problem probably is that you don't understand what a histogram is...

Comment #2

The way I understand it is that (in raw anyway) that 50% of all information captured is to the right.....then the next quarter or so is to the left of middle...then the next toward the far right..

So if your histogram is more to the right then there is lots of info that hasn't even been captured..

So if thats all true then (without clipping) the histogram should lean more to the right than left to have access to the most info possible.'The moment you think you're great is the moment you quit learning.'http://www.gawalters.comhttp://garyw1.smugmug.com/..

Comment #3

Garyw1 wrote:.

The way I understand it is that (in raw anyway) that 50% of allinformation captured is to the right.....then the next quarter or sois to the left of middle...then the next toward the far right..

So if your histogram is more to the right then there is lots of infothat hasn't even been captured..

So if thats all true then (without clipping) the histogram shouldlean more to the right than left to have access to the most infopossible..

Right, but how'd you get thirds? .

Isn't it a log scale, with 50% in the top quarter of the histogram (highlights), 25% in the brights, 12.5% in the darks, and 6.25% in the shadows?.

Rounded off, of course...plus I think this implies 4 stops of range, and we get more than that. But I think the basic logic holds..

Greg..

Comment #4

Gregory King wrote:.

Garyw1 wrote:.

The way I understand it is that (in raw anyway) that 50% of allinformation captured is to the right.....then the next quarter or sois to the left of middle...then the next toward the far right..

So if your histogram is more to the right then there is lots of infothat hasn't even been captured..

So if thats all true then (without clipping) the histogram shouldlean more to the right than left to have access to the most infopossible..

Right, but how'd you get thirds? .

The math is a little off but the right idea. Luminous Landscape refers to a 5 stop range..

See the "Home on the Range" section of this page.http://www.luminous-landscape.com/tutorials/expose-right.shtml..

Comment #5

And I thought it was to do with dirty old photographers in macs, flashing ....

Spolky.

Sony Cybershot W110Olympus E-410 + Zuikos 14-42, 17.5-45, 40-150Ex-Canon 350D..

Comment #6

Thanks guys and gals.....fortunatetly I'm a little better at shooting than I am with math and spelling...lol'The moment you think you're great is the moment you quit learning.'http://www.gawalters.comhttp://garyw1.smugmug.com/..

Comment #7

... I want to let you know that it is much easier to correct a moderate amount of noise than it is to recover blown highlights. Overexposing, much like anything else, is best done in moderation..

-Colleen..

Comment #8

Garyw1 wrote:.

Thanks guys and gals.....fortunatetly I'm a little better at shootingthan I am with math and spelling...lol.

Gary,.

Don't worry, the "digital guru" in the LL article can't spell either..

"without loosing important detail in the highlights".

(as the recent thread in Open Talk discussed)..

Your math wasn't so bad...you just cut your pizza into bigger slices. Log scales are designed to confuse people anyways..

Did you know gas gauges are similarly nonlinear? I heard Honda went and put fairly correct gas gauges in some cars, and people complained they used gas too fast. So they went back to a "normal" nonlinear gauge. Now, it stays above 3/4 tank until at least half the tank is gone. It makes people feel better. .

Greg..

Comment #9

Gregory...LOL again.

In the either April or May issue of Photoshop Focus Guide "Raw Photo Editing" It says:.

" When you make light twice as bright,it doesn't appear twice as bright to the human eye. The same goes for weight,sound and anything else our senses encounter..

Photographic film reacts to light in the same, non liner way,but digital sensors don't..

They measure light in a linear fashion:where twice as many photons hit the sensor,twice the level of data is recorded.What this means is that if your camera captures six stops of dynamic range (the typical modern camera's range from the darkest tone in an image to the lightest), half of the Raw data it records is dedicated to the brightest stop, a quarter to the next stop, an eight to the next and so on..

In other words there is far more information in the highlights than the midtones,and relatively little in the shadows..

The best capture strategy is to expose for the highlights- shoot as far to the right of the histogram as you can without actually blowing out the highlights,and then darken down if need be. This enables you to wring as much information as possible from your Raw file,pushing lots of detail down into the shadows.".

I am not a tech person one bit....just a shooter but thats what that says anyway.'The moment you think you're great is the moment you quit learning.'http://www.gawalters.comhttp://garyw1.smugmug.com/..

Comment #10

There are a few points that I would like to clarify on exposing to the right (ETTR)..

First is semantics. When some people say overexposure they mean that highlights are blown. For other people, overexposure means applying more exposure than the camera chooses. This causes lots of contention in ETTR discussions when one person says To do ETTR you overexpose your images and someone else responds Thats a bunch of hooey, why would I want to blow my highlights, blown highlights are unrecoverable.

Lets be clear, in ETTR you are not blowing your highlights. You are adding additional exposure to shift your histogram to the right, WITHOUT blowing highlights. (Unless of course you want some blown highlights like in the case of sunlight reflecting on water where the specular highlights will be blown even if normally exposed, and you want them blown anyway) You can add exposure either by using positive exposure compensation or by adjusting the aperture/shutter settings in manual..

Secondly, shooting with the ETTR method is intended for shooting RAW, not jpeg. Post-processing is REQUIRED when shooting ETTR to get the most out of the image. Shooting jpeg does not give you as much post-processing latitude to really get all you can from your sensor..

Thirdly, ETTR is just a tool. Sometimes it makes sense to use it, sometimes not. You the photographer have to decide when to use it. A portrait of a bride in a white gown against a white background, if properly exposed, should have a histogram that is shifted pretty far to the right anyway. There would not be much room in such an image for ETTR. Note that with many cameras, you would have to apply some positive exposure compensation when taking the image, but youre not exposing to the right, youre just overcoming your cameras metering system that is trying to force your image to a medium tone.

Taking 1,000 pictures at a wedding? You might want to get the exposure as close to perfect as possible in camera and minimize any post processing...

Comment #11

Garyw1 wrote:.

In other words there is far more information in the highlights thanthe midtones,and relatively little in the shadows.The best capture strategy is to expose for the highlights- shoot asfar to the right of the histogram as you can without actually blowingout the highlights,and then darken down if need be. This enables youto wring as much information as possible from your Raw file,pushinglots of detail down into the shadows.".

Good point I was just thinking about. "Darken down if need be". If you have a full DR shot (outdoors, in most cases), it's a moot point, right? You've got no choice..

This applies to lower contrast shots where (as shown in the example) you don't use the whole histogram, so you have the luxury of where to put it on the scale..

It seems like many of my shots tend to "brighten up" when I do auto-toning...so I suppose that means those exposures are more to the left than they should be..

Greg..

Comment #12

That was the correct way to expose for transparancies back in the "film" days..

That is also how many digital classes/seminars also taught how to ezpose for digital files when digital started to become the norm - expose for the highlights!.

Its funny if you searches, look at the various forums, magazines etc. how "new terms" or "new methods" have surfaced, which is nothing more than a fresh coat of paint on terms, methods etc. that were used for film. Granted not everything is the same or should be associated in that manner, but the bottom line is that if you nail your exposure in camera, and then look at your histogram you'll find that you are generally always within the paramaters!..

Comment #13

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This question was taken from a support group/message board and re-posted here so others can learn from it.

 

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