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Post Processing: Error recovery

blw

Richmond, US
28713 posts

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blw Moderator Awarded for his high level of expertise in various areas Nikonian since 18th Jun 2004
Tue 09-Oct-12 07:53 PM

This will probably be somewhat controversial, but I am from the school of thought that says that if you made a capture mistake, it's totally fair game to recover in post processing. I don't advocate what sometimes was expressed in the press room as "shoot it at 1/125th and f/8 and the boys in the lab will fix it." I do strive to get it right the first time, in camera, and I mostly succeed at that. But nobody's perfect, and sometimes this is a useful tool. Here's an example. I clicked this one in manual mode, but didn't account for the fact that I'd changed positions and thus the metering was very different. The result is fairly massive overexposure in part of the frame:

Click on image to view larger version


It's obvious that this is not a good thing. However, this is salvageable, at least some of the time. In this case, I shot in raw, so I had the latitude to do some recovery. Lightroom has a handy "auto tone" feature. Ordinarily I don't much trust "auto" features like this, but this button is surprisingly good. It's also one click away from an undo, so if it does something I don't like, control-Z (undo) makes it go away very quickly. For this particular file, the auto tone does a quite nice job:

Click on image to view larger version


Clearly this is much better. And note for those who don't like post processing because it takes so much time: this took ONE click. It doesn't get much quicker than that.

The auto tone has recovered the badly exposed stuff, but since it operates on the entire image, it has traded off the foreground that's in shadow. So I put a (digital) graduated filter to lighten the foreground. This is a couple of clicks, but probably still less than ten seconds:

Click on image to view larger version


At this stage I also did some sensor dust removal. If I were going to use this for something other than an example, I'd probably do some warming up of the colors in the foreground - they're pretty blue due to the shadow coloring. But in this case I'd probably be using this as a guide to building a model, so it doesn't need to be color accurate. Still, the main thing is the auto tone to exploit the latitude available in a NEF file, and that took just one click.

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_____
Brian... a bicoastal Nikonian and Team Member

My gallery is online. Comments and critique welcomed any time!

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