Any suggestions for maintaining detail with darker parts of the photo and toning down brighter part?

Started 3 months ago | Discussions thread
mfinley Senior Member • Posts: 4,650
Re: Any suggestions for maintaining detail ....

Quarkcharmed wrote:

mfinley wrote:

Quarkcharmed wrote:

Postprocessing for the shadows doesn't define the technique because if you do postprocess your images, you'll likely be tweaking the shadows no matter what technique you use.

You mean like in the image you posted as your example where you exposed for the highlights and then raised the shadows in post 96%? You're funny how you manipulate the words to create your own realities.

'Exposing for the highlights and raising the shadows in post'does not mean a "tweak' of the shadows, it's a significant raising of the shadows... you know what would be a good example of it? The picture you posted.

Again that image was scratching the limits of my 5DIV and that's why I chose it as an example. In such cases it's not unusual to do a heavy shadow lifting. I'm not sure what are you trying to prove exactly. That anyone who lifts the shadows uses exposure for the highlights? Seriously?

Oh boy. Really?

Okay I'll break it down for you real nice and easy and one last time.

In photography, the question comes up often when someone has had disappointing results of images they are making with large dynamic ranges with blown highlights. They are seeking some basic techniques to pursue so they ask the question that has been asked over and over again : "Should I expose for the shadows or for the highlights?"

Now, this is where you're going to have a problem because you are going to want to apply some strange criteria to the question, but just about everyone else who reads it will understand the question is simple and is framed based on the question askers scene scenarios as being high-dynamic range. If you can suspend your disbelief and accept that you can follow along from here, if you can't then there is never going to be any reason to go further.

The person asking this question is looking for some simple starting points to help them with repeatedly getting blown highlights, usually because they either come from or read about film/slide photography where underexposure was always the right answer if you had to choose. But we all know that film and digital are different animals when it comes to shadow or highlight exposures.

So the question asker is given a very simple answer to begin their long journey of improving their digital photography they are told - 'expose for the highlights, and raise the shadows in post.'

Now again you must suspend your weird mental gymnastics of wanting to argue how this or that could be the exception to this, how there is this or that technique that would be better etc... we are only talking about a very basic adage for somebody looking for basic help, it's a simple bandaid to apply and begin understanding all the complicated issues with digital photography exposure, dynamic range, sensor response and everything else.

So what does "expose for the highlights, and raise the shadows in post" mean?

In the simplest terms, it just means for the basic shooter faced with a scene he isn't sure his camera is going to record all of the dynamic range where do I start?

He now thinks: "Ah yes, forget about the shadows, I can raise them in post. What is important is to get the highlights recorded well so they don't end up blown out."

And here is where you go off the rails again because now you want to argue for 3 pages what "well" means. But we aren't going there, because this is about the basic shooter struggling through trying to make incremental improvements in his satisfaction with his images.

So the baisc shooter now uses what he has at his disposal and understands ... could be spot metering, could be looking at the histogram, could be blinkies, could be just pixel peeping the test shot on the back of the camera. But whatever he chooses he is now fixated on making sure he gets detail in the highlights so they aren't blown out. Where before he never paid any attention to how the highlights were going to be recorded, he now is and that's the crux of the whole thing that will improve his results.

When our shooter gets home he opens up his image on lightroom or something similar and he starts making adjustments, he now has a data file with detail in the highlights and he adjusts the tone curve through the simple method of raising his shadows which he delights in finding have lots more detail then he realized would be there. He's got something nice to work with, he has detail instead of blown highlights!

At the end of our fairytale, the basic shooter now has avoided his typical problem of just relying on his camera to set whatever exposure it is averaging out and he has now made the first steps toward understanding he needs to interpret the scene and his camera's meter to protect those highlights and he has tools in post to raise those shadows and get a pretty decent rendition of the scene he saw in front of him.

Would you like to now dispute any of the above? Warp into some other reality or drill down into some bizzarre miniscule facet of a word?

Or do you understand and accept what "expose for the highlights, and raise the shadows in post" means to everyone else even if you never understood what it meant?

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