"HAMSTTR"© ( Histogram And Meter Settings To The Right )
...Is a more accurate term to describe what we really mean when we say we "Expose To The Right" or ETTR. (from this point on I will use only the term HAMSTTR. Suffice it to say, that the term is new, and prior to August 2009 the universally used term to describe HAMSTTR was "ETTR" )
A brief History of "HAMSTTR"©.
- In 2003 Michael Reichmann of Luminous Landscape fame, and early Digital Photography Pioneer, was conducting a workshop in Iceland attended by none other than Thomas Knoll ( Creator of Photoshop! )
Thomas advised Michael to maximize the signal to noise ratio in Digital photography by adding what we call + EC (plus exposure compensation) while shooting RAW, and then if need be, using - EC during the RAW conversion to bring brightness levels back down to match the lighting at the time.
Complete Article here:
Expose to the Right - Maximizing S/N Ratio in Digital Photography
- Others had been seeing similar results, and very quickly word spread around that this was in fact a very effective technique.
Roger Cavanagh, and early POTN Contributor on Expose to the right
The advantages are several.
- Total image information is increased as more of the histogram falls under that right most section.
A 12 bit image is capable of recording 4,096 tonal values.
The right most "stop" of the histogram (brightest) data contains 2048 of these steps — fully half of those available. Now we use 14 bit in modern DSLRs, but the effect of "HAMSTTR"© is the same.
- Noise is reduced as more of the image falls to the right side of the histogram.
HAMSTTR will minimize the noise that potentially occurs in the darker regions of the image.
So far so good, now fast forward to August 2009 and a simple question regarding ISO settings posted on POTN results in a 20 page long debate re: use of the word "exposure"
In a nutshell, some old school purists would have it that we can not include the sensitivity of our cameras digital sensors in the "exposure" equation, because the current dictionary definition refers only to three components, ( luminance, Aperture, and shutter duration) ...not four. ISO is not part of the "triangle".
By this definition, even if your cameras' meter and histogram say otherwise, a shot taken @
1/100, f/4, ISO 100 is in fact the exact same "exposure" as a shot taken
1/100, f/4, ISO 1600
From this Epic thread;
By this definition the added sensitivity of the boosted ISO to 1600 does not alter the "exposure" but rather increases the brightness after the fact.
The trouble with this? Two fold:
1. It's true!
2. We simply do not use the word "exposure" that way any more! Call it "incorrect" but with all the terms we use in modern digital photography, EV, EC ETTR etc.. where "E" stands for Exposure in our camera metering system, all of these are effected by ISO. When in fact, by the "old school" standard, the correct definition, ISO has no impact on the "true exposure" as defined by "triangle" made up of Luminance, Shutter duration and Aperture.
In practice however, with digital (and even in film) we always include the sensitivity of the media or (ISO setting) in our calculations to make the image,. just as our equipment does this. In fact, the two tools we rely on most, absolutely include the ISO setting. More, they can not be forced to ignore it.
The Histogram and Meters in our cameras are effected by the ISO setting.
We can't escape that.
As much as all of this may seem self evident, the use of the word "exposure" in these terms seems to create a semantic paradigm.
Use vs. Definition
It was then suggested that a new term need be applied for the "other half" of our ETTR adjustments, the ISO settings. This term proffered is ITTR for "Iso To The Right"
This is fine to a point, however it draws a line that in practice the vast majority of us do not differentiate, or even recognize when shooting. It forces the use of Two Terms to do the same action, as that one action uses both techniques together, the ETTR and ITTR to push the Histogram and Meter to the right.
"HAMSTTR"© is a solution to remedy this cumbersome dichotomy.
HAMSTTR refers directly to the real world tools and setting we use to push "ETTR" and "ITTR"
We use the Cameras built in Meter and Histogram Settings to give us the "To The Right" adjustments.
For the vast majority, of ETTR shooters, HAMSTTR is what we've been doing all along. Combining both ETTR and the ISO push seamlessly in one set of adjustments to achieve one goal. An image pushed + EC to give us the most from our digital cameras and RAW files.
Further Reading on "HAMSTTR"©**
*In the following articles, please substitute "ETTR" and "Exposure" with "HAMSTTR©" and "Histogram and Meter" as all these guys are wrong.
Seriously though, these articles are MUST READ for new digital Photogs that have not been practicing HAMSTTR©, or even accomplished ones that have been but aren't sure why.
The following articles were written by some of the true pioneers of Digital imaging, hugely influential, even of you are familiar with all of there names, you've likely been following there advice for years, having been passed down now on forums by word of mouth.
Michael Reichmann on E (HAMS)* TTR July 2003
Roger Cavanagh on E (HAMS)* TTR Circa 2003
And it's early impact on POTN with some threads I found circa 2004;
Scottes On E (HAMS)* TTR:
A Question re: E (HAMS)* TTR:
* In the above links I substitute "HAMS" for E as apparently Michael and Roger etc. are like me and did not realize that they can't say "E" since the meter is showing the "ISO" as well.
** The term HAMSTTR© is copyright © CyberDyneSystems 2009