Expose to the right: the camera technique every landscape photographer must know

Expose to the right: the one camera technique every photographer must know

Important highlights


Expose to the right: important highlights

Even though this image has been darkened after its capture, the highlight detail in the sea and the clouds is unrecoverable

If you photograph a scene with a light source such as a candle or a light bulb in it you wouldn’t expect, nor want, to be able to see the detail of the candle flame or the bulb’s element.

You would expect these areas to be burned out. Similarly, if you are photographing a sparkling sea you expect the specular highlights to be burned out.

It would be a problem, however, if all the detail in the ‘white horses’ of the waves in the sea are a featureless mass of overexposed white.

These areas are the important highlights or critical highlights and the exposure needs to be set to protect them.

PAGE 1: Why should I expose to the right?
PAGE 2: Important highlights
PAGE 3: Using your histogram to expose to the right
PAGE 4: How to expose to the right
PAGE 5: The last step


How to take sharp landscape photos
The landscape photographer’s guide to shooting anywhere: free photography cheat sheet

  • Per Mare Per Terram

    I heard of this technique on a one-day landscape photography course but it was lost in the mass of other detail. Thanks for covering it here and explaining it so clearly. I’ve got it now.