Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Tip of the day: Expose to the right!

I'm creating a new part of my blog called "Tip of the day". These are tips that I find useful in my own photography that you can use to see immediate results.

Most of you already know this and some of you don't. Then there are those of you that know this and like me, fail to do this regularly.

This is relevant to me because lately I've been talking about medium format and dynamic range particularly as it pertains to shadow detail.

For those of you that don't know this, our dSLRs can capture more detail in the lights/highlights than it can in the darks/shadows. Basically the sensors' light capturing abilities are not linear from lost–blacks to blown-whites. As a result, when we meter and expose for the middle "chunk" of the histogram, we're not taking advantage of the sensors' abilities to capture more detail if the image were more-exposed or "to the right" of the histogram.

I used to under-expose my shots because I hated blown highlights. This was partially the result of being careless with makeup and not being diligent about controlling excess oil and shine on the models' faces. Nowadays I'm more careful with those issues and can push the exposure on the skin tones towards the right to ensure that I capture MORE detail in the shadows. With my traditional "under-exposing" the frame, I lost tons of shadow detail and not just black clipping. Thus by pushing the histogram/exposure to the right, I'm gaining "exponentially" more in shadow detail.

Just be careful to not clip the highlights either!

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