D800 incredible tonal range recovery

Started Jan 18, 2013 | Discussions thread
Luke Kaven Veteran Member • Posts: 5,705
Re: D800 incredible tonal range recovery

To be sure, the "standard" (curved) profile will give you an idea of what the shot's impact will be, and the "linear" profile will give you an idea of what the true exposure was.

Now consider the linear profile as a post-processing tool.  It doesn't resemble the final product.  And the capture with the standard profile seems to.  But it's partly an illusion.

Consider this -- you want to give a person who has straight hair a wavy hair style.  But there is no "wavy" profile, only a "curly" profile.  The curly looks pretty close, so you curl up the hair.  Then you set about the tedious work of trying to surgically "relax" it into a wavy form.  This results in a few kinks.  Easier by far though is to start with the straight hair profile, and then add waves.  The curls never totally come out.

There are effects to baking up an image with a stock profile.  Tones bunch up, saturation is uneven across the range of the image.  And inevitably, you need to unbunch in some places and rebunch in others to get what you really wanted in the first place.  Starting with the cleanest numbers is the best strategy.

In my case, I often copy the image to a new layer, and use a modified version of the original image to create local contrast using some combination of hard light, soft light, overlay blend modes, coupled with some use of high pass filtering.  A common trick.  If I try to do this with a pre-baked image, it fails.  If I do this with an image captured with the linear profile, then the result looks smooth and clean.

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