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Is this taking Expose To The Right (ETTR) too far?

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  • Is this taking Expose To The Right (ETTR) too far?

    Very interesting article on Luminous Landscape: http://www.luminous-landscape.com/es...exposure.shtml

    The author, Bob DiNatale, argues that most photographers don't take the ETTR concept far enough and consequently their processed images suffer from lost detail and increased noise. Bob is an Adobe Certified Photoshop Lightroom Expert and an X-rite Coloratti. He has a US Patent in Color Printing, worked with experimental silver emulsions at Polaroid, taught both the Nikon and Time Life Schools of Photography and founded the Olympus School of Digital Photography, so he should know what he is talking about!

    However, I do wonder if this rather extreme sounding approach to exposure would work for most photographers; it seems to me you are walking a very fine line between optimising exposure and irrecoverabley blowing crucial highlights. I don't doubt that it works for an expert like Bob, but for mere mortals like me.......hmmm, I'm not so sure.

    However, I may download his new book to get the full picture and give it a go.

    What do you think about this method?
    John

    "A hundredth of a second here, a hundredth of a second there � even if you put them end to end, they still only add up to one, two, perhaps three seconds, snatched from eternity." ~ Robert Doisneau

  • #2
    Re: Is this taking Expose To The Right (ETTR) too far?

    I read that article and, to be blunt, I thought it was a load of techno-babble for what most of us do anyway. Was it a new approach? I didn't come away feeling that it was. But then, I leave myself open to being criticised for not understanding it properly

    I also found it a bit odd that there was no mention of the histogram (at least, I didn't spot it) - the article seemed to be constrained within the confines of the DSLR rather than mirrorless.

    Anyway, that's my two grumpy penny-worths.
    Ian

    (I can never think of anything witty to say when under pressure!)

    GH2, G50, various m4/3rds lenses, Fuji X-T1 system

    My website: www.icimaging.co.uk

    Comment


    • #3
      Re: Is this taking Expose To The Right (ETTR) too far?

      Originally posted by Rawcoll View Post
      I read that article and, to be blunt, I thought it was a load of techno-babble for what most of us do anyway. Was it a new approach? I didn't come away feeling that it was. But then, I leave myself open to being criticised for not understanding it properly

      I also found it a bit odd that there was no mention of the histogram (at least, I didn't spot it) - the article seemed to be constrained within the confines of the DSLR rather than mirrorless.

      Anyway, that's my two grumpy penny-worths.
      I don't think it should make any difference whether using a DSLR or mirrorless, the sensor is essentially the same.

      I could see why he picked the +1.3EV exposure of the snow-covered roofs, as you say that's petty much what most of us do anyway. However, his treatment of the black cat was the exact opposite of what I would expect and I cannot understand how this can work. In fact, I've just imported it into Elements and it doesn't work - no way! But, like you, I leave myself open to being criticised for not understanding it properly!
      John

      "A hundredth of a second here, a hundredth of a second there � even if you put them end to end, they still only add up to one, two, perhaps three seconds, snatched from eternity." ~ Robert Doisneau

      Comment


      • #4
        Re: Is this taking Expose To The Right (ETTR) too far?

        ETTR is completely wrong for digital. If anything one should underexpose.
        Thomas
        --
        E-5+HLD-4x2; E-1+SHLD-2; 8mm FE; 7-14; 11-22; 14-35; 35-100; 135-400; EC-14; EX-25; FL-50Rx2

        My photos: http://ThomasGray.smugmug.com
        My daughter's blog: http://louise-dancey-photographe.blogspot.com/

        Comment


        • #5
          Re: Is this taking Expose To The Right (ETTR) too far?

          This is so timely John thanks for bringing this to my attention. Today we went to Calais (booze stock up) and as it happened while having lunch by the stormy beach I was playing around with ETTR but using the Histogram in camera. So I too was a bit disappointed that Bob did not mention the use of the camera's histogram to get his optimum exposure.

          ETTR is a concept that I have heard about and yet not really understood it in terms of what is best for your final picture. I have taken many pictures in bright sunlight when not trying to ETTR (rightly or wrongly I have tended to ETTL) and the highlights are blown but blown highlights in a picture is pure white and sometimes does not look out of place.

          Having spend my working life with instrumentation I can understand the principle of analogue to digital conversion. In music and with your digital TV picture if you go over the edge with converting your analogue value to digital value you get nothing. In days of analogue music your got noise when driven over the top which some liked as their particular sound. With analogue TV you got snowy pictures.

          If I understand Bob right if you expose to the brightness pixel in your picture you get optimum exposure albeit you may have to have increased your ISO or used a slower shutter speed. You may well have a perfectly exposed picture. Is this what folk want? If I think about the music analogue days some folk preferred the slightly noisy sound and I guess that some would prefer slightly noisy pictures in some settings. But I guess what he is saying is get the optimum exposure and do all the tweaking in software. Of course this only works if you shoot raw so why make camera's that produce jpegs.

          I have also thought that the camera's metering is an averaging device be it centre weighted or spot. So there will be some parts of your picture that could be overexposed. Using his method may result in some pictures requiring lower ISO or higher shutter speed and less definition in the bit of picture you are interested in.

          I think I have read enough in this article to make me add his book to my Xmas list I think you ask him for commission John.
          John

          OM-D E-M1, 12-40 f2.8 Pro, Tamron 14-150mm f5.8, E5, E3, Zuiko 50-200mm SWD, Zuiko 12-60mm SWD, Zuiko ED 70-300mm f5.6, 50mmf2, Zuiko ED 9-18mm f5.6, Sigma 50-500mm f6.3, EC14, EC20, RM-1, VA-1

          Comment


          • #6
            Re: Is this taking Expose To The Right (ETTR) too far?

            We should always take time to consider the opinions of others, and adapt our own ways of working to improve the end results.

            With digital systems, it is so easy and cheap to test these methods and adapt (cherry pick) them to see what works best for each of us as individuals.

            There's nothing worse than blown highlights, especially on pure white details, but equally blocked in shadow areas can ruin a picture. With static subjects an HDR (NOT Tonemapping) approach can work very well, but equally spot metering the brightest part of the scene and exposing accordingly will also work.

            A good incident light meter still produces excellent results.

            Perhaps a few test shots from each of us can add value to this discussion...
            Graham

            We often repeat the mistakes we most enjoy...

            Comment


            • #7
              Re: Is this taking Expose To The Right (ETTR) too far?

              Originally posted by Zuiko View Post
              I don't think it should make any difference whether using a DSLR or mirrorless, the sensor is essentially the same.
              I think there is a difference in the way you achieve this ETTR. With a mirrorless and I can only talk about the EM1 you can totally control how much ETTR you want simply by rotating your wheels and seeing the effect it has on your picture and watching the histogram. We get live feedback and all done without mirrors.
              John

              OM-D E-M1, 12-40 f2.8 Pro, Tamron 14-150mm f5.8, E5, E3, Zuiko 50-200mm SWD, Zuiko 12-60mm SWD, Zuiko ED 70-300mm f5.6, 50mmf2, Zuiko ED 9-18mm f5.6, Sigma 50-500mm f6.3, EC14, EC20, RM-1, VA-1

              Comment


              • #8
                Re: Is this taking Expose To The Right (ETTR) too far?

                Originally posted by birdboy View Post
                I think there is a difference in the way you achieve this ETTR. With a mirrorless and I can only talk about the EM1 you can totally control how much ETTR you want simply by rotating your wheels and seeing the effect it has on your picture and watching the histogram. We get live feedback and all done without mirrors.
                Ah yes, I see. The EVF and LCD give a visual indication of how the image will look before it is taken, something that an optical viewfinder cannot do. Mind you, many DSLRs have live view too nowadays, but in practice using it is clunky compared to a CSC and of course it is only available on the LCD, not the viewfinder.

                Maybe Bob doesn't use the histogram when shooting or reviewing the pictures that he has just taken, because he talks of applying a pre-determined exposure bias when he has time to use the spot metering method and of 3 frame bracketing (with +1.3EV compensation set as the base exposure) when a fast changing situation demands the use of in-camera multi-zone metering.

                BTW can anyone else see a flaw in the bracketing method? As the whole purpose is to achieve optimum exposure it means that only 1 in 3 frames can possibly meet that requirement and in a fast moving situation such as street photography quite often there is only one chance to capture the decisive moment. Mind you, I suppose that 9fps should take care of most situations so perhaps that is a moot point. I'm thinking aloud here (or whatever the term is for thinking as you type).
                John

                "A hundredth of a second here, a hundredth of a second there � even if you put them end to end, they still only add up to one, two, perhaps three seconds, snatched from eternity." ~ Robert Doisneau

                Comment


                • #9
                  Re: Is this taking Expose To The Right (ETTR) too far?

                  Originally posted by Graham_of_Rainham View Post
                  We should always take time to consider the opinions of others, and adapt our own ways of working to improve the end results.

                  With digital systems, it is so easy and cheap to test these methods and adapt (cherry pick) them to see what works best for each of us as individuals.

                  There's nothing worse than blown highlights, especially on pure white details, but equally blocked in shadow areas can ruin a picture. With static subjects an HDR (NOT Tonemapping) approach can work very well, but equally spot metering the brightest part of the scene and exposing accordingly will also work.

                  A good incident light meter still produces excellent results.

                  Perhaps a few test shots from each of us can add value to this discussion...
                  Good points about remaining open-minded to the new or different methods and cherry picking what best applies to us. Alsoi a great idea about posting some practical examples.
                  John

                  "A hundredth of a second here, a hundredth of a second there � even if you put them end to end, they still only add up to one, two, perhaps three seconds, snatched from eternity." ~ Robert Doisneau

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Re: Is this taking Expose To The Right (ETTR) too far?

                    Originally posted by srtgray View Post
                    ETTR is completely wrong for digital. If anything one should underexpose.
                    It depends upon the subject and the lighting, of course, but under-exposing when there isn't a clear reason for it will often cause noise issues when adjusting in pp even at low ISO. You're a braver man than me!
                    John

                    "A hundredth of a second here, a hundredth of a second there � even if you put them end to end, they still only add up to one, two, perhaps three seconds, snatched from eternity." ~ Robert Doisneau

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Re: Is this taking Expose To The Right (ETTR) too far?

                      Originally posted by Zuiko View Post

                      I could see why he picked the +1.3EV exposure of the snow-covered roofs, as you say that's petty much what most of us do anyway. However, his treatment of the black cat was the exact opposite of what I would expect and I cannot understand how this can work.
                      Hi John

                      Can you have a classical digital technique? I guess so. In classical digital photography as the camera meters for 18% grey so as you say to get whites white you need to over exposure and to get blacks black you need to underexposure.

                      The idea of ETTR is to get the most sensor data so he is doing extreme over exposure of the black cat to get the most accurate sensor data (all true). Trouble is you have to then remember, often days later in my case, that the cat was black or 90% grey or whatever shade of dark grey it was and then reduce the exposure value in LR to get back to the correct shade of black cat.

                      Think I would sooner concentrate on the composition and creativity than extreme technical details like ETTR.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Re: Is this taking Expose To The Right (ETTR) too far?

                        Originally posted by Zuiko View Post
                        However, his treatment of the black cat was the exact opposite of what I would expect and I cannot understand how this can work. In fact, I've just imported it into Elements and it doesn't work - no way!
                        I can see how it should work. In photographing a black cat against a black background, what is important, as with any subject, is to ensure that the tonal range is fully captured with as much fidelity as possible. Sure, this is achievable if the cat is exposed for mid-gray, as long as the tonal range from the lightest part to the darkest part sits nicely within the sensor's sensitivity range. In theory at least, it shouldn't matter if the cat is given even greater exposure, to the extent that the lightest parts of the subject are placed just below the clipping level. We've not lost anything as the tonal range is still encompassed by the sensor. However, digital capture being what it is, there is an advantage to this as the tonal range of the image is spread over more "levels" than if the exposure was lower. (The reason why ETTR is not wrong for digital capture.)

                        I guess the real problem is recovering that capture to give an image that represents the cat as being near black, as there will need to be quite an exposure shift in PP, and possibly some correction to the tone curve because the capture placed the dark cat on the non-linear top end of the cameras tone curve. Clearly, this would have to be perfomed on a raw image. But this is little different to printing a "thin" negative as we did in the old days, so long as all the information is there and not lost through clipping or by being buried in the noise. However, this is all theory of course. I've not tried such an extreme example.

                        The difficulty clearly comes when we've got a black cat on a light background . Whatsit's law suggests that this is the more likely, and then we've got to decide whether to expose for the cat or the background (unless we use HDR of course).

                        I guess an incident light meter would result in mid-grey being mid-exposure, and the cat would be at the shadow end of the sensor's range. Result: minimal PP but with the risk of the darkest parts getting lost in the noise.
                        Ian

                        (I can never think of anything witty to say when under pressure!)

                        GH2, G50, various m4/3rds lenses, Fuji X-T1 system

                        My website: www.icimaging.co.uk

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Re: Is this taking Expose To The Right (ETTR) too far?

                          Originally posted by Rawcoll View Post
                          I can see how it should work. In photographing a black cat against a black background, what is important, as with any subject, is to ensure that the tonal range is fully captured with as much fidelity as possible. Sure, this is achievable if the cat is exposed for mid-gray, as long as the tonal range from the lightest part to the darkest part sits nicely within the sensor's sensitivity range. In theory at least, it shouldn't matter if the cat is given even greater exposure, to the extent that the lightest parts of the subject are placed just below the clipping level. We've not lost anything as the tonal range is still encompassed by the sensor. However, digital capture being what it is, there is an advantage to this as the tonal range of the image is spread over more "levels" than if the exposure was lower. (The reason why ETTR is not wrong for digital capture.)

                          I guess the real problem is recovering that capture to give an image that represents the cat as being near black, as there will need to be quite an exposure shift in PP, and possibly some correction to the tone curve because the capture placed the dark cat on the non-linear top end of the cameras tone curve. Clearly, this would have to be perfomed on a raw image. But this is little different to printing a "thin" negative as we did in the old days, so long as all the information is there and not lost through clipping or by being buried in the noise. However, this is all theory of course. I've not tried such an extreme example.

                          The difficulty clearly comes when we've got a black cat on a light background . Whatsit's law suggests that this is the more likely, and then we've got to decide whether to expose for the cat or the background (unless we use HDR of course).

                          I guess an incident light meter would result in mid-grey being mid-exposure, and the cat would be at the shadow end of the sensor's range. Result: minimal PP but with the risk of the darkest parts getting lost in the noise.
                          This all makes perfect sense and helps put the discussion into perspective.
                          John

                          "A hundredth of a second here, a hundredth of a second there � even if you put them end to end, they still only add up to one, two, perhaps three seconds, snatched from eternity." ~ Robert Doisneau

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Re: Is this taking Expose To The Right (ETTR) too far?

                            Just as an addendum to this thread, I think it is worth reading Michael Reichmann's original articles (http://www.luminous-landscape.com/tu...se-right.shtml and http://www.luminous-landscape.com/tu...exposure.shtml). Says more or less what Mr DiNatale says but without all the contrived techno-babble (did you notice that he's even trade-marked his "OneZone" system!).
                            Ian

                            (I can never think of anything witty to say when under pressure!)

                            GH2, G50, various m4/3rds lenses, Fuji X-T1 system

                            My website: www.icimaging.co.uk

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Re: Is this taking Expose To The Right (ETTR) too far?

                              It seems that ETTR is not always suitable and like most things in photography and life the answer all depends what you are taking and what you want to achieve.

                              It has occurred to me that a possible disadvantage of optimum ETTR may affect autofocus systems. The examples he has show has significantly reduced contrast so will the AF systems, particularly in the mFT lenses, struggle to get focus?
                              John

                              OM-D E-M1, 12-40 f2.8 Pro, Tamron 14-150mm f5.8, E5, E3, Zuiko 50-200mm SWD, Zuiko 12-60mm SWD, Zuiko ED 70-300mm f5.6, 50mmf2, Zuiko ED 9-18mm f5.6, Sigma 50-500mm f6.3, EC14, EC20, RM-1, VA-1

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