Shoot to the Right

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The technical side of photography has never been my forte or even my primary photographic interest. But I do know that getting the best digital negative possible provides the most options in post-processing – which is where my real interests lie.

In lesson 2 of his latest e-book, The Visual Toolboxa: 50 Lessons for Stronger Photographs, David duChemin defines the best digital negative as “the one with the most data.” Which brings us to the concept of “shooting to the right” – the right of the histogram, that is.

duChemin writes: “… there is much, much more information in a histogram sitting to the right—as long as it doesn’t go off the right side of the graph—than there is in the same histogram sitting to the left.” I knew this – from previous reading and my collage photography classes.

But it was duChemin’s next point that finally made me sit up and take notice:

“Where this trips us up is because often the ideal digital negative doesn’t look great in the back-of camera preview; it looks too bright, or washed out. This is why I use my LCD only for looking at the histogram, checking focus, and being critical about my composition. I never use it to judge the exposure without the histogram.”

Aha! The light bulb finally went on. Guilty as charged. I was attempting to judge exposure using the LCD display, ignoring what the histogram was telling me. Why did I do this? Because it is so difficult to ignore that washed-out, too bright display image and trust the histogram instead.

So I’ve been practicing – believing the technical information instead of what my eyes are seeing. And it is still a struggle, each and every time. But I’m working on it.

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Posted on October 10, 2013, in Photography and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 6 Comments.

  1. I think these are really lovely, there’s something really beautiful about the light & smoothness (you can tell that i know all the technical terms 🙂 )

  2. Hmmm…something to ponder. I’m a viewfinder girl myself, relying primarily on the exposure meter, but I think there’s probably a setting for at least a mini-histogram. I’ll have to check it out.

  3. Yup, LCDs definitely lie, but histograms are pretty truthful.
    Shooting to the right actually maximizes your sensor’s capabilities, and works quite well almost every time.

  4. Brenda, I absolutely adore these images. The light. The subtle colours. The smooth textures.
    I must read DuChemin’s book. I haven’t seen this one, and I could use the technical assistance. It’s not the starting point for me in approaching photography.
    Thanks for sharing this..and for sharing these beautiful images!

  5. These are wonderful images with such great light. I don’t know much about histograms. I need to check into this. Maybe my old brain will figure it out!!

  6. I’m happy to see another “pie” image! I love them.

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