Cab Waiting Area, Ridgewood NJ, (c) 2016, Steve Fretz
In our last post, we said "expose for the lighlights, develop for the shadows." Officially, it's called Expose To The Right, or ETTR. I linked to the relevant Wikipedia article, but the photos they use are small and not hugely informative Here's the original raw file for the header picture:
(Note: I've exaggerated the highs a bit, to make the point clear)
What's different about the highs in this shot, as opposed to my earlier example, is that they're too bright here - at least one or two stops over.
That's OK. None of the important detail is clipping (ie, "burned out"), so using the Lightroom dodge/burn tool, or contrast adjustments, or a combination, we can darken them.
And that's the point. Expose in such a way that the dynamics of the scene fit what your sensor is capable of. If you're shooting raw, it's somewhere between 10-14 stops, depending on your camera and tolerance for noise in the shadows.
In future posts we'll examine the various technically sound ways one can measure a scene and place values. For this one, taken handheld while futzing around, I exposed for the highlights, opened up a stop or two, and hoped for the best in the dark areas. That works frequently enough that I keep doing it.