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Thread: RAW Shooting to the Right

  1. #1
    Peter Ryan's Avatar
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    RAW Shooting to the Right

    I shoot landscape and wildlife photography - you can check out some shots on my web site http://www.peterryanphotography.com.au. I try to limit this to 100 images at any one time and refresh around a third of the site every 3 - 4 months. I do have a passion for macro photography as well.

    I have a Nikon D70S and series of lenses from 11 - 300m.

    I have read quiet a bit about the merits of shooting to the right in RAW - without blowing out the highlights of course. As I understand it around 75% of the tonal values are in the top half of the histogram. As the discussion goes - if you are not shooting to the right then you are not capturing the full tonal range. Having said that if you are not blocking in the shadows then you must still be capturing all the tonal values available with the shot which means you should still try to get the exposure right in the camera to start with and as long as you are not blocking in the shadow detail then you do not need to shoot any further to the right than that.

    I have not had a chance to discuss this with anyone and seeing I have just joined this forum I thought it a good place to start off a discussion based on something I am very keen to explore.

    I would like to know whether others follow this process or, as I saw in another post and I did not want to cut across that person's particular queries, do you shoot to get the exposure right in the camera.

    My understanding is that of you shoot in JPEG then it is better to slightly underexpose but I do shoot in RAW so I am keen to hear what others are doing in this regard.

    I look forward to hearing from you.

    Peter.

  2. #2

    Re: RAW Shooting to the Right

    I do shoot slightly to the right in RAW when there are no extreme highlights in the shot. I've found that ACR in CS4 is great at altering exposure without degrading the image data. It's really surprising how much data is 'hidden' on the right side.

    I think it's more like 82% for the right side. This explains it very well... http://www.luminous-landscape.com/tu...se-right.shtml

    EDIT: I don't fully understand why this happens. I think it's due to the fact that the photo-sites are not all that efficient at gathering light and converting it to a signal in the processor. So, the stronger (brighter) the light then the better the signal. I think that's why noise occurs more in low-light situations, especially in the dark (left side) areas of a shot.
    Last edited by carregwen; 15th August 2009 at 07:52 AM.

  3. #3
    Peter Ryan's Avatar
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    Re: RAW Shooting to the Right

    Thanks for the reference - I read it with great interest and it helped to clarify my thinking on this topic.

    Best regards

    Peter

    p.s. I have not been able to work out how to set up a signature yet - any thoughts?

  4. #4

    Re: RAW Shooting to the Right

    Quote Originally Posted by Peter Ryan View Post
    p.s. I have not been able to work out how to set up a signature yet - any thoughts?
    Go to 'my settings' at the top menu. There should be an option for signature. Although... mine was not originally there, so I sent a PM to admin. Maybe you need a certain number of posts? Not sure.

  5. #5
    Peter Ryan's Avatar
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    Re: RAW Shooting to the Right

    Thanks, it does not appear to be there. I have asked the question.

    I did have a look at your web site. Nice work.

    Best regards

    Peter.

  6. #6

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    Re: RAW Shooting to the Right

    Quote Originally Posted by Peter Ryan View Post
    I have read quiet a bit about the merits of shooting to the right in RAW - without blowing out the highlights of course. As I understand it around 75% of the tonal values are in the top half of the histogram. As the discussion goes - if you are not shooting to the right then you are not capturing the full tonal range. Having said that if you are not blocking in the shadows then you must still be capturing all the tonal values available with the shot which means you should still try to get the exposure right in the camera to start with and as long as you are not blocking in the shadow detail then you do not need to shoot any further to the right than that.

    I have not had a chance to discuss this with anyone and seeing I have just joined this forum I thought it a good place to start off a discussion based on something I am very keen to explore.

    I would like to know whether others follow this process or, as I saw in another post and I did not want to cut across that person's particular queries, do you shoot to get the exposure right in the camera.

    My understanding is that of you shoot in JPEG then it is better to slightly underexpose but I do shoot in RAW so I am keen to hear what others are doing in this regard.

    I look forward to hearing from you.

    Peter.
    Hi Peter,

    We discussed something similar not too long ago - you might like to have a read of this. More here from the last couple of days too.

    In summary, shooting to the right is good in theory, and in practice a lot of the time too, but - in my experience - it's not always best. It really depends on how dynamic the scene is; if you only need 4 or 5 stops to cover it then under-exposing 1 or 2 stops is going to be OK. One might take the position of "in such cases one may as well shoot to the right anyway", but I've found that sometimes it's difficult to get the scene looking photorealistic in post-processing if the tonal range needs to be stretched too far, and in those situations deliberate under-exposure helps. The presence of specular highlights are another example of where exposing to the right (taken literally) doesn't work particularly well.

    Note: All of the above is assuming a RAW capture - with JPEG, all bets are off

  7. #7
    Peter Ryan's Avatar
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    Re: RAW Shooting to the Right

    Thanks Colin,

    I drive most of my photography off the histogram and highlights and the scene in front of me. I do find when shooting in the Australian summer the glare is so strong I have 0.70+ Exposure Compensation as a starting point and normally finish up with a well exposed image. I sometimes have to move this down to 0.30+ EV.

    In the winter I can move back to a neutral setting and work from there.

    Best regards

    Peter

  8. #8

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    Re: RAW Shooting to the Right

    Quote Originally Posted by Peter Ryan View Post
    Thanks Colin,

    I drive most of my photography off the histogram and highlights and the scene in front of me.
    Hi Peter,

    I do much the same. I shoot a lot of backlit landscape, and lack of dynamic range in the camera is usually an issue - so for me it's usually just a case of getting as close as I can to the right without the blinkies (with the histogram being a good indication of any degree of under-exposure).

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