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High Lights Recovery in Camera Raw

High Lights Recovery in Camera Raw

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Published by Luis A Guevara

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Published by: Luis A Guevara on May 25, 2012
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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Technical paper
Highligh Rcvryin Cmr Rw
A little-known capability o the Adobe® Camera Raw plug-in is highlight recovery inthe nearly overexposed highlights o a raw digital capture. Normally, when one or twoo the channels in an image are clipped—pinned to 255—raw processors stop trying touse any o the data on the unclipped channels. Tis means that with most raw processors,the rst clipped channel limits the highlights o an image. Even i there is usable datain one or two channels, the raw processors just stop trying to get anything usable.Camera Raw doesn’t limit the highlights o an image. Anytime you set the Exposuresettings to a minus number, even a -.05 setting, Camera Raw attempts to return useuldata. Depending on the camera and the extent o the raw highlight data, Camera Rawcan provide additional usable data down to a -1.00 to -2.00 range and sometimes evenmore. Because the data is rom only one or two channels, Camera Raw returns the imagedata as luminance inormation. But this can still substantially extend the useul rangeo a raw capture. Whenever the original scene has a high luminance range—perhapsbeyond the dynamic range o the camera sensor—highlight recovery in Camera Rawcan help extend the range o a processed image. By adjusting the Exposure down andthe Brightness up, you can maintain highlight detail that would be lost with otherraw processors.o extend the range even urther, it’s ofen useul to process the raw image twice—once optimized or the overall tone o the image and once specially or the highlights.Blending these two processed versions is simple in Photoshop CS2 by using a layermask and adjusting the opacity o the dark processed image.Te camera settings or the ollowing image are set to Camera Deault. Te overallexposure is airly good, but the shadows are too dark. Te histogram shows that themajority o the data is in the shadows.
Image with Camera Deault settings
Highlight Recover in Camera Raw
I you want to bring out more detail in the shadows, you will have to increase the Brightness, andpossibly the Exposure. In the ollowing image, the Exposure setting has been adjusted to +.30and the Brightness to 100. Tis lightens the overall density o the image but makes the highlightstoo bright.
Image with Exposure and Brightness settings that are higher than the Deault settings
Tis image provides a great example o how blending two conversions o the same image togethercan help bring out a much wider range o highlight and shadow detail, than you could rom usingone conversion.Start by setting the Exposure and Brightness to render good detail in the highlights o your image,while letting the midtones and shadows go dark. In the ollowing example, the Exposure settinghas been adjusted to -2.00. Not only does this setting reduce the density o the extreme highlights,but it also brings in the highlight recovery capabilities o Camera Raw. Notice how much morehighlight detail appears in the tiles and vase around the window. Click OK to process the imageusing these settings.
 Adjusting the Exposure setting too low activates highlight recovery.
Highlight Recover in Camera Raw
Now you are ready to process the image a second time or the shadows and midtones o the image.With Camera Raw 3, you can open the same image a second time without disturbing the currentCamera Raw settings by hold down the Option (Mac) or AL (or PC). Tis changes the Openbutton to an Open Copy button. Tis makes opening multiple renderings o the same image easier.
Duplicating an image
Tis time process the image or detail in the shadows and midtones. Note that the highlightshave become washed out. (Tis is OK or now.)
Image with settings adjusted or overall tone
Once you have both images open, simply use the Move tool to drag the darker image into thelighter image as a layer. Afer starting to drag, hold down the Shif key to layer the two imagestogether perectly in pin register. Te result is shown below.
Image in two layers

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