Why Exposing to the Right (ETTR) is BAD!

Started Mar 30, 2013 | Discussions thread
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Doug J
Doug J Veteran Member • Posts: 8,850
Re: (ETTR) is BAD! But saying so is going to get you a lot of flack

Sovern wrote:

Doug J wrote:

Sovern wrote:

I agree, I gave ETTR a try but honestly beginners are better off nailing the exposure in their camer as much as possible and learning how the histogram should look in camera for a specific scene vs worrying about keeping everything on the right.

This also keeps you safer from over exposing your photos which is the main thing that I mention that is a con from ETTR (You're more prone to losing your highlights).

Very true, but ETTR should not result in overexposure, I see this as the basic issue you raise. Some scenes will have a DR that exceeds the camera's DR abilities, but then this is a decision by the photog on what to expose for, and this is outside of the ETTR discussion.

I agree that getting ETTR right will not result in blowing highlights (the photo will still be naturally overexposed before correction though) but the margin of error for getting blown highlights will always be higher when using ETTR especially shooting on the go.

The photo will not necessarily be overexposed, this is a matter of visual perception and intent, and blown highlights are eliminated, naturally depending on the metering. A key decision is if the photog needs to compromise one element for another, e.g subject v. background. ETTR plays a part in this, but an understanding of the shot and how it should be exposed is important.

I much prefer not having a histogram that has most of the distribution on the left, with only a little on the right, unless I intended to shoot it that way. A center distribution is good, but I might miss shadow detail that I don't want to underexpose and prefer to push to the right. For me these are typically shots that include the sky, water reflections and other highlights that I can afford to miss (overexpose). ETTR certainly is not a panacea, but I've found for me it's a good starting point.

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