What I learned from Gollywop -- and what I wonder

Started Mar 26, 2013 | Discussions thread
knickerhawk Veteran Member • Posts: 4,978
Re: What is proper exposure at the first place?

Moti wrote:

Beautiful sample images (as always).

Being an old fart photographer myself, I always believed in the principle that in photography, being a visual craft, the final judgement of a photograph is done with the eye. Therefore, my definition to proper exposer is completely different.

I suspect my farts are as old as yours, if not older...

For me, proper exposure is the amount of exposure that makes my photo look exactly the way I want it to look.As simple as that.

As a raw shooter, this is actually the wrong way to look at the issue.

Therefore, with all due respect to everything mentioned in the OP which is very interesting and I am sure also helpful to many, it still lacks one very important element - how do I want my image to look like. This is something that no camera in the world can guess and without this input, no exposure theory has any validity for me.

The problem for us old farts is trying to fit old concepts like "exposure" into the digital workflow.  I think we're actually better off jettisoning the use of these film-era terms altogether.  Let's talk about "light capture" and "image display creation" instead of "exposure" and "development".

Light capture is what you do in the camera.  The goal should be to maximize light capture (just shortof sensor saturation) in all parts of the scene that are not specular highlights or otherwise areas you're willing to sacrifice.  It's unnecesary and perhaps even counterproductive to worry at this stage about what you "want [your] image to look like" except to the extent that your efforts to maximize light capture (remember, that's the goal) will adversely affect what you want to be in focus.  Let's call this "critical focus".  To achieve critical focus  of the important elements in the scene you may have to sacrifice some light capture and it becomes one of those delicate tradeoffs.  This may force you to adjust aperture and/or shutter and - if and only if all else fails to ensure critical focus - you might also have to increase ISO.  That's basically it for the light capture stage.  Of course the specific mechanics of monitoring light capture during the capture process is tricky and somewhat camera-dependent.  Things like uniWB or use of appropriate filters, bracketing, etc. may be necessary.

Moving to the image display creation stage, we're now at the point where you start thinking seriously about what you "want [your] image to look like".  Your "vision" will drive your decisions about how you process the raw file and apply appropriate global and local edits to achieve the desired image at the desired output size and display format.  Remember, though, that by maximizing light capture, you've given yourself the greatest flexibility and opportunity for success at the image display creation stage.

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