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Adobe Lightroom Digital Photography Tutorial - Highlight Recovery


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Easy to follow digital photography post processing tutorial to recover overexposed photographs using adobe lightroom recovery.

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Adobe Lightroom Digital Photography Tutorial - Highlight Recovery

  1. 1. Photography Tutorials
  2. 2. Lightroom – Recover Highlights, Overexposure, and Colors from RAWLegal Disclaimers, Copyrights, and End User RightsThis document can be re-shared provided that no alteration has been made to this originalarticle.Originally published on may not claim this article or modify this article for republication or distribution.Copyright Notices2010-2012 - All Rights ReservedNo portion of or its associated sites may be reprinted or modified in anyform without prior consent. ©Copyright 2012 • David L. Tong • 2
  3. 3. Lightroom – Recover Highlights, Overexposure, and Colors from RAWTable of Photography Tutorials ..................................................... 1Legal Disclaimers, Copyrights, and End User Rights ................................. 2 Copyright Notices .................................................................................................................. 2Recover Highlights, Overexposure, and Colors from RAW Using AdobeLightroom .......................................................................................... 4 ©Copyright 2012 • David L. Tong • 3
  4. 4. Lightroom – Recover Highlights, Overexposure, and Colors from RAWRecover Highlights, Overexposure, and Colors fromRAW Using Adobe LightroomOne key benefit of shooting RAW is the ability to manipulate all of the data available in animage file. Unlike JPEG, you have a lot more leeway in terms of exposure and dynamic rangeadjustments.Oftentimes, we don’t have the luxury of using grad filters or bracketing, such as portraitsessions or just casual snaps. There’s an incredible amount of RAW data available even ifyour camera tells you you’ve clipped (overexposed) your highlights when you shoot RAW.We’re going to use Adobe Lightroom’s [check best price] Develop panel for this exercise, butessentially, it’s identical to Adobe Camera RAW’s control panel in Bridge and Photoshop.Other 3rd-party RAW converters may very well have similar, but differently named tools aswell. ©Copyright 2012 • David L. Tong • 4
  5. 5. Lightroom – Recover Highlights, Overexposure, and Colors from RAW First we take a look at our original image. I took this around 930AM here in Singapore in a bright, clear, sunny day. It’s rather rare for Singapore to have blue skies as it’s cloudy most of the time. Unfortunately, dynamic range limitation of a single exposure made the photo look like it was taken on a bright but overcast, cloudy day (which it wasn’t). You can’t see the blue sky and fluffy clouds in this photograph.As you can see, the sky is rather over-exposed and white, with just a hint of blue/cyan peeking near theleft edge. If I turn on the highlight clipping indicator, bulk of the sky has no data. The histogram tells asimilar story. ©Copyright 2012 • David L. Tong • 5
  6. 6. Lightroom – Recover Highlights, Overexposure, and Colors from RAWThat is deceiving, however, as the RAW file contains a lot more data that the image shows. By using theright RAW conversion tools, we can recover a lot of ‘lost’ information in our photographs (within reason)that we could never obtain if we shot in JPEG or other compressed format.We will be using the HUE / SATURATION / LUMINANCE (HSL) panel mainly for this exercise, you’ll seehow easy it is to recover lost details and colors from a seemingly wasted image.The HSL panel shows a set of 8 color sliders under each sub-panel. You can adjust the same 8 colorsliders independently for hue (color shade), saturation (color intensity), and luminance (colorbrightness). ©Copyright 2012 • David L. Tong • 6
  7. 7. Lightroom – Recover Highlights, Overexposure, and Colors from RAWWe need to darken the sky mainly, which we know is primarily blue and cyan in color. However,Lightroom lets you use the target adjustment tool. That’s the little circle at the left corner of the panel.Click the circle and upper and lower arrows appear around the circle (arrows not shown in the screencap below).Since the photo’s problem is that the sky is too bright, we will be adjusting the settings under theLUMINANCE panel.Using the Target Adjustment tool, move the Target Adjustment circle to an area near the faint blue skyand drag the cursor downwards (reduce value). ©Copyright 2012 • David L. Tong • 7
  8. 8. Lightroom – Recover Highlights, Overexposure, and Colors from RAWYou’ll see that a lot of the white areas start to reveal more blue values, separating the white clouds fromthe blue sky.To recover more areas around the clouds, we move back up to the exposure/global adjustment sub-panel and play with the RECOVERY slider. Move the slider to the right until you obtain your preferredamount of sky details, in this case, I dragged the slider to about +20.Just like that, a world of difference in terms of sky detail.If I go further, the image will look a bit un-natural (subjective observation), I’m OK with this. Comparethis sky with the original image and you can see how much more data a RAW file preserves even if theJPEG thumbnail preview indicates otherwise.Now you might be asking “why not just use the RECOVERY slider up front?” ©Copyright 2012 • David L. Tong • 8
  9. 9. Lightroom – Recover Highlights, Overexposure, and Colors from RAWNo reason, you’ll get the same result, but only if you adjust the luminance of the blue/cyan sky as well.Otherwise, you’ll end up having a pretty flat and grey sky like this (-100 Recovery from the original file) ©Copyright 2012 • David L. Tong • 9
  10. 10. Lightroom – Recover Highlights, Overexposure, and Colors from RAWGoing back to our adjusted image, I tweaked the SATURATION and LUMINANCE settings for the trees alittle using the Targeted Adjustment tool.Remember that these are arbitrary adjustments, purely based on how it looks on screen, so use theTargeted Adjustment tool and play around until things look right. ©Copyright 2012 • David L. Tong • 10
  11. 11. Lightroom – Recover Highlights, Overexposure, and Colors from RAWHere’s our final image.The whole process took less than 2 minutes to complete from opening to final output and it alsorepresented how the real weather was when I took this snapshot.If you have a set of images shot at similar settings, just reapply the same HSL and Recovery adjustmentsettings and you’re good to go. Another great reason for shooting RAW, simple but powerful stuff.For more tutorials in photography post-processing and other digital photography tips, visit ©Copyright 2012 • David L. Tong • 11