Overexpose Photos Rather Than Underexpose For Easier Editing Later On

While, of course, the goal is to get the exposure right the first time, that isn't always possible. If you're having trouble finding a balance, technology blog Tested teaches us why sometimes overexposing will give you better photos, post-processing, than underexposed photos.

Photo by Dustin Jamison.

While there is a great amount of debate on the subject, Tested does make the good point that if a picture is only slightly overexposed, you can usually bring it back fairly easy in something like Photoshop. If a photo is underexposed, however, you'll end up with a lot of grain and noise after trying to correct it.

Of course, you could always try to remove the noise afterward, but then you end up doing a lot more work than you would have done had you just opted for overexposure in the first place. You don't always have a choice between the two, but if you're stuck in a bind and have to choose the lesser of two evils, Tested recommends overexposure. That said, a lot of photographers do believe that the opposite is true — so share your thoughts and experiences in the comments, and be sure to check out Tested's article for more details on the subject.

Underexposed vs Overexposed Photos: Which is Worse? [Tested]


Comments

    Problem is if you overexpose, it's harder to bring the blown highlights back. Noise can be fixed, clipped highlights can't

    I agree with Sam, if you're shooting JPEG (and most people do), blown highlights are lost forever when the camera saves the image, whereas dark shadows are just noisy.

    The crucial part that the linked article needs to make clearer is that you must shoot RAW to get away with a bit of overexposure. Because the RAW data has a little bit of latitude in the highlights, it don't unceremoniously clip at the limits of the file format and you can have a crack at it in post-processing.

    I wrote a graduated filter plugin that takes advantage of this in Bibble (RAW workflow software)... http://bit.ly/gradfilter

      I forgot to add, the amount of room you get for overexposure depends on the dynamic range of your camera.

      A good explanation and reference for this is available at http://hdriblog.com/dynamic-range-of-sensors/

    @ sam and roger

    Articles like these always say 'slight' overexposure. if you expose your image so the histogram sits as far to the right as possible, but without clipping the image will look over exposed but you will not have lost any information, even when shooting jpg.

    if you overexpose, especially in darker situations, if you drop below a certain shutter speed, you risk image blur.

    I was shocked recently when my sister handed me the RAW images from her wedding photographer. As a photographer myself I'd offered to clean them up for print, but these photos were consistently 2 stops over exposed!

    It was clear the photographer wasn't an amateur, but to over expose by 2 stops is just plain ridiculous and I really couldn't see any reason unless perhaps it was to generate more business for himself post shoot.

    I generally shoot 1/2 stop over exposed, and occasionally may go to a full stop.

    The way I see it, you cant work with what wasn't there to start with, photos are all about light, and that light has to be recorded. If you under expose, you just haven't got it to play with later.

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