Frustrating, bright sunlight portraits!

Started May 16, 2012 | Discussions thread
ProfHankD
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Re: Frustrating, bright sunlight portraits!
In reply to Elite83, May 19, 2012

Elite83 wrote:

This particular photo was shot JPEG, until I changed it to RAW. So this is a quick 2-minute edit of a JPG in photoshop, did my best. A $30 tele isn't the best glass you can buy obviously, so the original picture looks pretty un-contrasty.

If the shot was captured as a JPEG, you can't change it to raw (incidentally not RAW; raw is not a standard file format like JPEG, just "uncooked" sensor data). JPEG's YUV colorspace transformation, log encoding, and frequency-domain compression mean that a lot of the raw data is forever gone. Did you mean that you also or separately recorded the raw capture?

Anyway, the lack of contrast isn't disturbing here, it is again just the lack of darker tones that's annoying. Your second version of the shot to me looks worse -- the colors are off with some at saturation and the highlights have less detail. I suspect you did good ol' autolevels, right? Don't do that -- autolevels usually goes a bit too far.

In the levels tool, simply move the left and right markers in to the active edges of the histogram and drop gamma to perhaps 0.9. This expands the tonal scale to use all available brightness levels and reduces contrast slightly to help preserve the smoothness of the tonal gradations.

This is actually a very nice simple shot, but slightly overexposed. The only thing I don't like is that the highlights on her skin are a tad too strong. That too can be fixed, but not by global tone mapping.

Incidentally, in general, cameras capture a shorter tonal range as the ISO is set higher, so ISO 800 may have cost you highlight detail in this shot. Noise at ISO 800 is not a problem for a NEX-5.

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