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Thread: Dealing with High Contrast

  1. #1
    FrankMi's Avatar
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    Dealing with High Contrast

    This image has a problem that I am having trouble addressing. The girl's hand was in bright sun but everything else was in shade and I had to catch the shot at the moment or not at all. My attemps at darkening the really bright areas (including in the background) in PS resulted in making making the image look artificial. Any suggestions?

    Dealing with High Contrast

    Any other C&C is also welcomed! Thank you for viewing.

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    Re: Dealing with High Contrast

    Did you shoot Raw, Frank? It will produce better results on this sort of problem.

    Either way, you will probably get best results from combining two separate exposures or layers with different brightness levels. Assuming you couldn't expose for the hand at the time of shooting.

    As it is, I'm afraid that a lot of detail will be missing from the over exposed areas.

    However, what I would do to try to salvage something, if you didn't shoot Raw, would be:

    Use an Adjustment Layer, plus mask, and adjust this to remove the excessive brightness (I would use Curves) switch the mask to Hide All (the adjustment will disappear) then carefully paint over the bright areas with a low opacity soft edged 'white' brush so that the 'hidden' darker area gradually shows through.

    Take it gradually and make several passes of the brush until you get the desired effect.

    Alternatively, if you aren't too sure of this method; create a duplicate copy layer of your original background. Adjust this layer for reduced brightness and add a Hide All Mask. Paint over the bright areas exactly as above until it looks better.

    The only advantage with this method is that if you temporarily hide the background layer you will be able to see exactly how your 'painting' is effecting the layer. Which may prove useful if you aren't familar with working directly on an adjustment layer.

    But, as I said, unfortunately you can't recover the lost details; all you can do is to tone down the brightness a little on selected areas.

  3. #3
    FrankMi's Avatar
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    Re: Dealing with High Contrast

    Quote Originally Posted by Geoff F View Post
    Did you shoot Raw, Frank? It will produce better results on this sort of problem.

    Either way, you will probably get best results from combining two separate exposures or layers with different brightness levels. Assuming you couldn't expose for the hand at the time of shooting.

    As it is, I'm afraid that a lot of detail will be missing from the over exposed areas.

    However, what I would do to try to salvage something, if you didn't shoot Raw, would be:

    Use an Adjustment Layer, plus mask, and adjust this to remove the excessive brightness (I would use Curves) switch the mask to Hide All (the adjustment will disappear) then carefully paint over the bright areas with a low opacity soft edged 'white' brush so that the 'hidden' darker area gradually shows through.

    Take it gradually and make several passes of the brush until you get the desired effect.

    Alternatively, if you aren't too sure of this method; create a duplicate copy layer of your original background. Adjust this layer for reduced brightness and add a Hide All Mask. Paint over the bright areas exactly as above until it looks better.

    The only advantage with this method is that if you temporarily hide the background layer you will be able to see exactly how your 'painting' is effecting the layer. Which may prove useful if you aren't familar with working directly on an adjustment layer.

    But, as I said, unfortunately you can't recover the lost details; all you can do is to tone down the brightness a little on selected areas.
    Hi Geoff, yes, I did shoot it in RAW and although the hand isn't a pure white, it is totally lacking any detail. I did try combining separate layers at different exposures but my skill in doing so produces a blotchy result.

    Here is the original...

    Dealing with High Contrast

    About the only thing I can think to do is to crop out the hand for an entirely different look, like this.

    Dealing with High Contrast

    Thank you Geoff. Any additional suggestions would be welcomed!

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    Re: Dealing with High Contrast

    That crop removes the rather messy background so I think it works well. Although the yellow neck band is slightly over exposed.

    I would try to create 2 separate Raw conversions and use the layer and mask method to improve this. You have such good feather detail that I think it is worth spending a little bit of extra time here.

    Alternatively, you could select and remove the bird then paste it onto a different background with a reshot hand added. But perhaps that is a job for those long winter evenings.

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    Re: Dealing with High Contrast

    Frank,
    I've dealt with areas of over exposure in a lot of my photos as well, so I feel your pain. However, I really do like the cropped version. And I agree with Geoff on the feather detail... really pops in the cropped version. And the focus on the eye is awesome! My suggestion would be to try to fix the yellow band that is over exposed and leave the rest alone. I am curious why in the cropped version you cut out the tail.
    Overall, Frank, I think this is a very good shot... without worrying about the hand. The bird's colors are amazing and your detail is awesome. Where was this taken?
    frankie

  6. #6
    FrankMi's Avatar
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    Re: Dealing with High Contrast

    Hi Geoff, I guess I need to get someone to 'give me a hand', literally! ROFL!

    Actually I had the same issue with the yellow band as I did with the hand. In both cases there was absolutely no detail, even in the RAW image. The big difference was the hand is very noticable whereas the yellow band wouldn't be noticed by most viewers (that don't frequent this forum).

    Frankie, thank you for the kind words. I couldn't crop out just the hand unless I did a retouch on that entire area to remove the hand and plastic cup. I might consider cutting the entire parrot to another background but I would loose a significant part of the parrot's foot that is inside the nectar cup. Maybe, if I could get either a replacement hand OR a parrot's foot!

    This was shot inside an aviary at the Riverbank Zoo in Columbia, South Carolina.

    Like many other shots, it is part of the learning experience that helps us get better.

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