Why Exposing to the Right (ETTR) is BAD!

Started Mar 30, 2013 | Discussions thread
A.J. Grossman III Contributing Member • Posts: 607
Re: Why Exposing to the Right (ETTR) is BAD!

Sovern wrote:

I see a lot of new photographers learning about exposure and then quickly being told that they should use a method of exposure called Exposing to the Right (or rather, ETTL). I went into depth as to why in my opinion, ETTR is bad, and especially bad for new photographers that want to develop a consistent base for their ability to get correct exposure correctly the first time around with worrying about losing highlights.

Me personally, I believe in getting the exposure/shot correct the first time in the camera and exposing properly versus to the right as many benefits as shown in the article presented below.


This is also the beginning of articles that are aimed at enthusiast/beginning photographers that want to learn more and discuss various techniques, philosophies regarding what gear you need, lighting, and so on.

Thanks for viewing all the best.

Thanks for sharing your opinion.

I have not read through every post in this thread, so my comments may be a repeat.

In my opinion, blanket conclusory statements are rarely good advice.  Also, not defining certain terms or concepts can lead to a lot of confusion.  For example, you say "I believe in getting the exposure/shot correct the first time in the camera and exposing properly versus to the right..."  What do you mean by "correct exposure" or "proper exposure?"

"Correct exposure" could mean different things and is dependent upon what the photographer or Art Director is trying to accomplish.  In a studio environment, photographers can manipulate exposure to accomplish a specific, creative purpose.  If by "correct exposure" you mean rendering your subject at an 18% value because the color and tone of the subject is of primary importance, then what about the other important parts of the photo?  If you get your subject rendered at 18% and important detail is lost in the highlights, were you successful?

If you ever shot with film, you may have come across advice such as if using slide film expose for the highlights and if using negative film expose for the shadows.  So, "correct exposure" was at least in part dependent upon the type of film one was using.

I agree with your inference that new photographers should not be given a blanket statement such as "you should always expose to the right."  I disagree with you that "ETTR" is bad in all cases.

I think it would be more helpful if an explanation was included regarding what an acceptable range of exposure might be for a given subject.  And, if you are working with an art director, of course his/her opinion of what the correct exposure should be is of primary importance.

Thanks again for sharing your thoughts.

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