exposing to the right and highlight control

Discussion in 'Beyond the Basics' started by Overread, Oct 11, 2008.

  1. Overread

    Overread has a hat around here somewhere Staff Member Supporting Member

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    One thing is becomming clear to me - I habe problems controling highlights. Whenever I encounter them my aim is to remove them by reducing the exposure (either by eposure compensation or using a smaller aperture) which results in most of my shots being exposed to the left (looking at the histogram) and yet I still get highlight problems even then.

    Is there a way of controling the highlights which allows me to expose more to the right?

    ps I am dealing mostly with wildlife photography and a key area of problem is when dealing with strong sunlight (yes I know its a general problem area)
     
  2. Garbz

    Garbz No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Shoot film :)

    In all seriousness there's little you can do here. Expose to the right is the rule of thumb for maximum quality and lowest noise, but as you can see it's definitely not practical in contrasty situations. Often under exposing and then boosting the shadows slightly in post produces very acceptable images. Other than that there's not much else to offer.

    Useing a polariser helps with some glossy highlights and the sky.
     
  3. Alpha

    Alpha Troll Extraordinaire

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    The idea that one should "expose to the right" is a complete fallacy. Correct exposure is correct exposure, end of story. If your camera's meter is giving you the wrong reading then it's the meter that's the problem, not exposure itself.
     
  4. Stogie

    Stogie TPF Noob!

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    Depending on how far away you are from your subject, there is a way to correct this problem. If you have a flash that can reach your subject, you can expose for the highlights and use fill flash on your subject. Thats how I handle those situations.
     
  5. DeadEye

    DeadEye TPF Supporters Supporting Member

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    Its hard to not drop the shutter when you are off looking to capture some wildlife. If the light is wrong its wrong so use those times to plan ahead.. Shooting film will help as it has better dynamic range. Try to plan for better light , early morning is great. Overcast days are great. Fill flash is great if you can pull it off. Usually a 1 shot deal as it skeers em. If you are a nest/den/hole watcher then try controling the light. A 20 doller piece of white ripstop nylon between the sun and subject works wonders at mid day.

    :thumbup:
     
  6. Overread

    Overread has a hat around here somewhere Staff Member Supporting Member

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    Thanks all - Stogie I am glad you said what you did as its what I also came to the conclusion of trying out since I posted this thread. At least for some subjects, as you say, its a possiblity.

    Garbz - a polarizer is something that I do want to use at some point (when I can get a good one) especially if I go back to a zoo where there are glass viewpoints - my last trip was horrible with the relfections I got.

    Alpha - but surly there is more than one way to correctly expose as shot ?

    thanks for the pointers as well Deadeye - a more wildview point and one I will keep filed away for when I can get the chance for some real wild shooting - thanks :)
     
  7. manaheim

    manaheim Jedi Bunnywabbit Staff Member Supporting Member

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    I've read articles that discuss exposing to the right to get better color range out of a sensor and such. I have not seen any proof supporting or denying this claim, but it's interesting. Do you have a particular reason to state that it is a fallacy?

    Are you also ignoring the high-iso argument? I've seen this in action and find it to be (at least anecdotally) quite credible... slight overexposure on high ISO subjects gives far better consistency of color (reduction or erradication of noise)
     
  8. elemental

    elemental TPF Noob!

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    I can certainly corroborate the other side of this: Any underexposure at high ISO is deadly for image quality, especially on an entry-level DSLR body that does not handle high ISO especially well (and, to be fair, none of them do). It seems to follow that slight overexposure will minimize any areas of underexposure, and with the flexibility of RAW it shouldn't be an issue to get the exposure exactly where you want it.

    I also have to agree with Overread. Alpha's characteristically verbose comment left me reaching for some platitude involving skinning cats.
     
  9. ksmattfish

    ksmattfish Now 100% DC - not as cool as I once was, but still

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    Just google it. Expose to the right has become as typical for raw shooters as overexposing neg film and slightly underexposing slide film. You can make up your own mind as to who knows what they are talking about: the pros and experts, or some photo geek that won't even provide a link to their portfolio so we could actually make a judgment as to their ability.
     
  10. bigalbest

    bigalbest TPF Noob!

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    I was sold on slight over exposure for a while but I have begun to notice that after making raw adjustments there can be un-correctable color problems. The closer you nail your exposure the less likely these problems will be, and the only real solution is exposing (exactly) for the highlights and using fill flash for the shadows. This can work fine for portraits but with landscapes or wildlife I would think that you would have to start with ideal lighting conditions and even then you might need several exposures and heavy post.
     
  11. manaheim

    manaheim Jedi Bunnywabbit Staff Member Supporting Member

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    My biggest complaint with "expose to the right" is that Nikon exposure meters overexpose to the LEFT. :)
     
  12. Alpha

    Alpha Troll Extraordinaire

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    When you say "expose to the right," the assumption is that normally you'd be exposing at the center, i.e. normal exposure. To say that the correct way to expose is to not expose normally is to say that the correct exposure is not, in fact, the correct exposure. That's a fallacy from any logical or semantic standpoint.

    Again, beginning with the assumption that normal and correct are semantically equivalent, if it is the case (per whatever anecdotal evidence) that overexposure is correct exposure, then the correct exposure is not the normal exposure. Therefore, the correct exposure is actually not the correct exposure. Logical fallacy.

    Now I'll grant that there are times when you would want to over or underexpose. But you'd be doing that to compensate for the way the meter is reading the scene. You can over- or under-expose relative to the meter reading and still be exposing correctly. What that signifies is not that the correct exposure is wrong (remember that logically the correct exposure is always correct, and therefore exposing in a way that's different from the correct exposure is by definition incorrect), but simply that the correct exposure is something other than what the meter's telling you. This is precisely why we have so many different methods of metering and understanding exposure.

    So, moral of the story....if your camera is giving you bad readings all the time, then there's a problem with your camera. It's that simple.
     

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