Shooting to the right …


This is a bit of an experimental shot – one for the Lightroom enthusiasts maybe. It was taken inside the Chapel at the Welsh Folk Museum at St Fagans, Cardiff. The shot above is after processing in Lightroom, the shot below how it came out of the camera.

I had been reading about how one should try and push the histogram in the camera’s display to the right so that you could capture as much as possible of the highlights. The theory being (when you’re shooting in RAW) that you can always get detail out of the shadows. So I really pushed the boat out on this one as the EXIF data below shows. What I did in post-processing is shown in this screen shot from Lightroom …

… essentially I was able to push the Black and Shadows to the maximum in one direction, and the White and Highlights in the opposite, and then play around with Exposure and Temperature, before then doing some fine-tuning with Luminance and Colour to reduce the noise introduced by the ridiculously fast shutter speed I’d taken the shot at. What did the original look like? Well here it is …

… not one to put in your photo album, but the finished one is passable and a valiant attempt to resolve the problem of shooting towards a source of light from a dark interior. [EXIF: 1/3200sec @ f/1.8; ISO 400; Sony ILCE-7R; Sony FE 55mm F1.8 ZA] I hasten to add, I wouldn’t have used these settings, if I went back again, but I was deliberately trying to get the light through the window exposed correctly, hence the fast shutter speed. On another day, I’d probably have pushed the ISO and aperture up a little. Hey ho, and move on, some nice shots of St Fagans to follow.

[UPDATE: I’ve thought about what I did when taking this shot, and have reflected that I could have been using the wrong exposure technique as well. I think I may have been using point-exposure, whereas a broader range of exposure points might have produced a better starting point.]

8 thoughts on “Shooting to the right …”

  1. jonathan guest

    Really interesting David. It is amazing just how much improvement you can get out of Lightroom. Its probably more fun than taking the pics in the first place!

    1. No Jonathan, nothing can beat getting out and taking the pictures in the first place, and I will always try and get it right “in the camera” if I can! It’s just good to know that in “difficult situations” of light that there is a way of getting back detail into an image. I’ve just updated the post to include a reference to a really easy to understand explanation of what “shooting to the right” means, and also a admission that I might have used a better exposure mode. There’s just so much to learn, and remember when you’re taking a photograph. I can well understand why some find it so much easier (and rewarding) to just put the camera on AUTO, and leave the camera to work it out as best it can, and let them get on with “living in the moment” – but that wouldn’t be fun for me!!!

  2. I love this one. All the angles tease the eye almost making you question what yr looking at. Can’t believe you got such a good result from the original!

    1. Thanks Jane. This little exercise has stimulated me to try and do a few more shots of similar situations to try and get a better understanding of how light and camera sensor work together. Our eyes (and brains) are such marvellous creations. They do all these adaptions automatically, so that we can see and understand what we’re looking at. A camera can’t, so we need to trick it, in a way. Shooting to the right is I suppose such a trick.

    1. That’s praise Bernard. I’ve seen your paintings! If you knew how little time I’d taken over getting the shot perhaps you wouldn’t be so complementary.

  3. The first thing to say is that I am impressed with the detail you managed to squeeze out of the areas of deep shadow in the original, David. I accept I couldn’t do that with a jpeg.
    I am however confused by your talk of ‘pushing the histogram to the right’. I can see that that would apply if your first shot had most of the histogram on the left (underexposed). If it were overexposed, and the highlights were ‘blown’ however, then you would have to push it to the left, wouldn’t you?
    There is a trap to avoid in using a histogram. It is a mistake to try to fill it if there is nothing peak white or jet black in the scene you are shooting. Turning up the contrast will make it look wrong.
    I’ve got something to say about the article, but I’ll send you an email about that.

    1. Spot on Jim! My histogram for the initial shot (straight from the camera) shows exactly what you suggest. High at the left side – which is what you’d expect from all the “blacks/shadows”, and a smaller peak towards the right-hand side. After post-processing the histogram approximates closer to a normal distribution but with a peak to the left still, so I’m left thinking this post has been an absolute fraud in one respect. I certainly didn’t shoot to the right in the camera, and my later postscript about exposure method comes into play. Time for some more tests and trials to see if I can get to the bottom of this!

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