Why Exposing to the Right (ETTR) is BAD!

Started Mar 30, 2013 | Discussions thread
OP Sovern Contributing Member • Posts: 907
Re: Why Exposing to the Right (ETTR) is BAD!

Ysarex wrote:

Sovern wrote:

Ysarex wrote:

Sovern wrote:

Can you back up your statement of why my 5 points are wrong?

When shooting a portrait where the sky is involved wouldn't you agree that shooting to the right is bad as your neglecting the lighter details in the photo that are naturally bright such as clouds and the blue sky?

How about flash photography and it creating bad habits?

"1. ETTR teaches you how to overexpose an image on a consistent basis leading you more prone to blow highlights that are unrecoverable unintentionally."

Start by getting a proof reader; you mean "leaving" not "leading."

ETTR does not teach you to overexpose. Those of us who practice ETTR are very careful to never blow highlights. I do not clip the highlights in my photos and therefore my photos are not overexposed. By shifting the exposure right to the point just short of overexposure we get best possible results.

"2. ETTR makes pulling down natural bright’s to their proper exposure (the brighter parts of your scene) impossible in most cases."

You need a proof reader if you can't spell. You meant "brights" not "bright's."

No. Again the point of ETTR is to expose so the brights are exposed to just below the sensor's clipping point but never overexposed.

3. ETTR is a one way ride. Always overexposing your photos means that you’re focused on making the dark’s/shadows brighter than they are in reality leading to blown highlights and unrecoverable brights such as a beautiful sky/sunset/or anything else which is naturally bright.

You really need a proof reader; there are multiple errors in item #3.

ETTR is not overexposing. We don't blow highlights. We don't have unrecoverable brights in our photos.

4. ETTR makes flash photography more complicated and even impossible in some cases without blowing the highlights.

No. ETTR applies equally to flash exposure as it does to ambient light exposure.

5. ETTR does not teach you how to read a histogram properly as you’re always focused on overexposing and pulling all of your naturally dark/shadow sections of the histogram to the right neglecting what the proper exposure should be and denying the knowledge that comes from learning how the histogram should look for a specific location/lighting/shot.

No. I'm very clear on what information to take from a histogram and once again ETTR is not overexposing. I do not clip highlights in my photos. ETTR practice does not require overexposing highlights.


You should learn how to spell and you should understand what you're criticizing before you make a public fool of yourself. Good luck to you.


Sorry I'm more focused on the discussion of photography and ETTR than grammar.

Too bad -- I can handle both.

The problem with ETTR is that when you aim to expose to the right what if you screw up a candid photo due to aiming to shoot ETTR and you blew highlights in your new scene whereas if you stuck with exposing properly you wouldn't have blown anything out?

ETTR is exposing properly and I work hard not to screw up and I succeed. I don't blow highlights; I get them right.

Also, how would a photographer going about shooting/printing on location and having to shoot right the first time go about using ETTR??? It wouldn;t make any sense because clients would look at their just taken photo and ask you why it's so bright and you don't have the time to worry about not clipping or bringing down the exposure before printing.

You got me. I don't work under that kind of immediate pressure. I take my time and produce excellent results that are always superior to anything you can get from a camera "first time" for example the photo on your site of the young lady in the red coat that should have been white balanced before you published it.

Also, how would you mix in ambient and strobes while using ETTR without clipping highlights (especially while using flash) as it would become way more difficult vs getting everything correct on the histogram and the back of the LCD as using ETTR you are bringing up thre ambient right to below clipping point meaning flash enters clipping terrority and trying to figure it all out would lead to nothing but headaches.

Adding flash to the equation if anything simplifies the problem as the flash output is predictably constant. If you're trusting the histogram on the camera's LCD then you're trusting the JPEG processing engine in your camera. I don't rely on automated processing software I rely on myself and I've proven time and again that I'm better than that software.

I agree that ETTR does have it's place in controlled photography and controlled environments but overall I just stated my personal opinion of why for me ETTR is no good and makes no sense. I prefer consistency in my ability to expose without worrying about other factors.

Now you're backing down and changing your original premise. Now you're saying ETTR isn't for you personally. That's a lot different than the article on your site. Caving so early? I control my work environments. Are you just out-of-control and so projecting your problems on the rest of us?


I just want to point out one immediate flaw in your post. White balance when shooting portraiture and in general is personal taste.

Have you ever seen one of the best wedding photographers in the world work? He has a speia like yellow tint to all of his photos......a lot of photographers prefer a warm tint and change the white balance to their needs.....for that particular photo I experimented with different white balanced and preferred the cooler white balance as it fit the mood better......

It's also a reason why I a long with other photographers use gels on their flash as we prefer different tints depending on the shot.....not everyone likes a cut and dry perfectly white balanced shot.

Also, adding flash makes things more complicated as now using the histogram and LCD is now obsolete when using ETTR as your LCD will just show an overexposed photo. Also, I'm not "backing down" (what are you going on about lol.....)

I have always stated that for me ETTR is in my opinion not worth it and this not good.....I even stated that on my website. I think you're on the personal agenda to start a flame war, name calling, or calling others out on an internet forum as shown by your email to me (who does that anymore lol)....I won't stoop down to that level.....all the best sir.

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