Left vs Right Camera Exposures

Getting your exposure correct in-camera saves you time from fiddling around in post. And, as you progress your career in photography, it’s one of those fundamental things you need to know how to do. Setting your display brightness manually, referring to the histogram, enabling the highlight alert, and using a flat picture profile are some of the ways that’ll help you to achieve a correct exposure in-camera. In this video, photographer Pye Jirsa from SLR Lounge takes it a step further and discusses whether you should expose to the left, or to the right:

When you take a photo by exposing to the right, you expose for the highlights. This can land you with images that appear underexposed except at some bright spots. You can recover the underexposed images to some extent in post, but you’ll end up with grainy images with artifacts.

A better alternative is thus to expose to the left. Push the shadow region of your histogram as far to the left as possible without clipping. This allows the camera to make the best utilization of the camera’s dynamic range.

“Having some blown out highlights, that looks okay, that looks natural, that looks normal when we look at it from a viewer stand point.”

Exposing to the left is thus a better method to expose your images. Which technique have you been using?

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