Extreme highlight recovery - or "why to shoot RAW"

Discussion in 'Image Processing' started by jloden, Apr 15, 2013.

  1. jloden

    jloden FujiXspot Top Veteran

    708
    Mar 9, 2013
    Hunterdon County, NJ
    Jay
    Just wanted to share this example of extreme highlights recovery with an X100S RAW file in LightRoom 4.

    It's not a particularly good shot, and I was about to trash it in LightRoom anyway when I thought I'd see how it'd fare with trying to recover the utterly blown highlights. Here's the original:

    8651922991_519a0b4294_c.
    Biltmore by jloden, on Flickr


    And here's the end result after pulling it down -2.55 stops in LightRoom and setting Highlights to -42 at the same time. Only other adjustment was my default of Clarity +25 that gets applied on import.

    8651922409_a5dccace13_c.
    Biltmore by jloden, on Flickr


    In my opinion, that is absurd headroom for highlight recovery. I usually won't try to recover anything > 1 stop and even then I feel I'm pushing it. Pulling down 2.5 stops and more without losing all details or color shifting is incredible. Ideally we don't need to recover 2 stops of highlights because we get the exposure in camera, but it's nonetheless impressive and good to know what's possible with a modern sensor like in the X100S.

    I also subtitled this "why to shoot RAW" because I always shoot RAW (RAW + JPG on the X100S) and decided to try the same steps on the SOOC JPG file just for kicks. As I expected, the results were pretty horrific. Unfortunately I'd already deleted it before I thought to share, but trying to recover the JPG more than a stop or so resulted in bad color shifting, blurry gray areas of lost highlights, and just generally fell apart. The amount of latitude added by shooting RAW is nearly double.
     
  2. Gary

    Gary FujiXspot Top Veteran

    698
    Feb 15, 2013
    SoCal
    Gary
    Or why to meter correctly in the first place. LOL

    Thanks for the example. Good to know because I ofter shoot high school theatre and kids with spots makes for extreme lighting. This may change how I meter same.

    GRAA0989.

    -G-
     
  3. ean10775

    ean10775 FujiXspot Top Veteran

    885
    Feb 13, 2013
    Cleveland, OH
    Eric
    Indeed high school theatre spots are the bane of my existence when shooting the local musicals. Actually, so are various color temperatures used in the different types of lighting.
     
  4. jloden

    jloden FujiXspot Top Veteran

    708
    Mar 9, 2013
    Hunterdon County, NJ
    Jay
    Indeed :D

    I usually just trash photos with severely blown highlights right off (especially when it's a boring shot like this), but it was fun to see what's possible.
     
  5. Gary

    Gary FujiXspot Top Veteran

    698
    Feb 15, 2013
    SoCal
    Gary
    ... and that is why B&W was invented.

    GRAA0414-L.

    -G-
     
  6. Gary

    Gary FujiXspot Top Veteran

    698
    Feb 15, 2013
    SoCal
    Gary
    I keep this shot just for educational purposes ...
     
  7. ean10775

    ean10775 FujiXspot Top Veteran

    885
    Feb 13, 2013
    Cleveland, OH
    Eric
    Agreed. Even if you can achieve enough dynamic range to handle both an actor in a spot and the ensemble behind him/her, the color temperatures of the lighting are most likely different (for example, the spots at the school I shoot at are daylight balanced whereas most of the other lighting used is tungsten). Its a mess.
     
  8. Armanius

    Armanius FujiXspot Top Veteran

    691
    Feb 1, 2013
    Texas
    Muttley
    Which DR setting were you using?
     
  9. jloden

    jloden FujiXspot Top Veteran

    708
    Mar 9, 2013
    Hunterdon County, NJ
    Jay
    Good question, I had to go and look. It's set at DR 100%