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Thread: Trying to rescue a badly exposed picture

  1. #1
    Kris V's Avatar
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    Trying to rescue a badly exposed picture

    Took this last fall with a camera that can't shoot RAW
    It's has a badly blown out sky for one thing, and the darks have practically no detail.

    Trying to rescue a badly exposed picture

    Nik SilverFX to the rescue (I hope) - This is a first try. Anything suggestions for improvement? Or trash the thing?

    Trying to rescue a badly exposed picture
    Last edited by Kris V; 24th August 2011 at 02:48 PM.

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    Dizzy's Avatar
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    Re: Trying to rescue a badly exposed picture

    I must be a bit odd, as I like them both; especially the B&W version.

    Early morning fog rising just off the water in Fall air with a sharp bite, Sun starting to
    brighten up the day but the deep shadows are still there...

    It may not be proper in the technical sense, but, ...I still like it..

    Mike

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    Moderator Donald's Avatar
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    Re: Trying to rescue a badly exposed picture

    Kris

    I don't think that's a badly exposed image at all.

    When we speak about blowing parts of the image we mean that they've gone right off the scale and the whites have gone to pure white, with no detail left at all. This is not the case here at all. The fact is that there is little definition in the sky because it is so clear. A bit of cloud always helps, in most cases. But it is not blown at all.

    You did set yourself a pretty big challenge - because you were working with a bright sunlit sky and some pretty deep shadow. I don't know if you were using any GND filters (I don't think so). But to capture that range of light without filters or using HDR techniques to take multiple images and then blend them, you were setting yourself a pretty near impossible task.

    And I think you actually pulled it off as well as anyone could have done.

    So, I don't think it's a badly exposed image. The problem might have been in trying to take on such a challenging shot. It probably looked wonderful to the naked eye, but then the camera sees things very differently than we do.

    In fact I think you've created a wonderfully moody and atmospheric B & W. Isn't Silver Efex Pro wonderful?

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    FrankMi's Avatar
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    Re: Trying to rescue a badly exposed picture

    Hi Kris, you may have more tonal range than you think. One thing you could try is to open the image and make a copy at about +2EV and a second copy at -2EV by changing the brightness setting, then run a tonemapping process on the three images. If it doesn't help, it hasn't cost anything but a little bit of time and if it does work you may very well be able to pull much more out of the original. If you don't have any tonemapping software, you can still try to use masks and layers to recover additional detail.

    I would try it for you but it isn't letting me make a copy of your image for some reason.

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    Re: Trying to rescue a badly exposed picture

    Kris,

    I agree with Donald on this one mate and like 'em both.

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    Kris V's Avatar
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    Re: Trying to rescue a badly exposed picture

    Quote Originally Posted by FrankMi View Post
    Hi Kris, you may have more tonal range than you think. One thing you could try is to open the image and make a copy at about +2EV and a second copy at -2EV by changing the brightness setting, then run a tonemapping process on the three images. If it doesn't help, it hasn't cost anything but a little bit of time and if it does work you may very well be able to pull much more out of the original. If you don't have any tonemapping software, you can still try to use masks and layers to recover additional detail.

    I would try it for you but it isn't letting me make a copy of your image for some reason.
    Hi Frank,
    I did the BW conversion pretty quickly last night before I went to bed. I'll try your suggestion tomorrow - I'll have the day Off-(Yea!) and since it's too hot to go take pictures, I'm planning to spend it in front of my computer. I have Photomatix and Dynamic HDR, Nik HDR.
    I'm not sure about the over/under exposure copies. I have tried that with a few other pictures and it usually turns out very disappointing. Tonemapping can turn garish real quick.

    I only recenty got a DSLR - all pictures taken before June 2011 are jpg only. I didn't have a camera that could shoot raw.
    Last edited by Kris V; 24th August 2011 at 07:12 PM.

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    Kris V's Avatar
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    Re: Trying to rescue a badly exposed picture

    Quote Originally Posted by Donald View Post
    Kris


    When we speak about blowing parts of the image we mean that they've gone right off the scale and the whites have gone to pure white, with no detail left at all. This is not the case here at all. The fact is that there is little definition in the sky because it is so clear. A bit of cloud always helps, in most cases. But it is not blown at all.
    When I opened the original jpg in ACR, it showed no detail in part of the sky and the trees. Exposure compensation gave me a little bit back.

    And I think you actually pulled it off as well as anyone could have done. So, I don't think it's a badly exposed image.
    Thank you - I tried.



    In fact I think you've created a wonderfully moody and atmospheric B & W. Isn't Silver Efex Pro wonderful?
    Yes, I love playing wit it - in combination with layer blending and PWL, possibilties are endless!

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    Kris V's Avatar
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    Re: Trying to rescue a badly exposed picture

    Quote Originally Posted by Dizzy View Post
    I must be a bit odd, as I like them both; especially the B&W version.

    It may not be proper in the technical sense, but, ...I still like it..

    Mike
    Thanks for the encouragement.

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    Moderator Donald's Avatar
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    Re: Trying to rescue a badly exposed picture

    Quote Originally Posted by Kris V View Post
    When I opened the original jpg in ACR, it showed no detail in part of the sky and the trees. Exposure compensation gave me a little bit back.
    But that just proves the point. You didn't screw it up. You still had detail that you were able to recover in PP. And that's a perfectly legitimate part of the image-creation process. So, well done.

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    Re: Trying to rescue a badly exposed picture

    Quote Originally Posted by Kris V View Post
    Tonemapping can turn garish real quick.

    I only recenty got a DSLR - all pictures taken before June 2011 are jpg only. I didn't have a camera that could shoot raw.
    Hi Kris. I've been able to do some recovery with tonemapping but when I do, I only blend back in the specific parts if the image that the process helps. I don't do the entire image as the original is usually much better for most of the image. Sometimes it helps, sometimes it doesn't, but it provides another option to try.

    I recently got my DSLR (February) as well, so many of the shots I post are the older P&S JPG's. I've tried to apply what I have learned about post processing since February to some of the better compositions and in some cases, have had surprisingly decent results with it. Fun, isn't it!

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    Kris V's Avatar
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    Re: Trying to rescue a badly exposed picture

    Quote Originally Posted by Donald View Post
    But that just proves the point. You didn't screw it up. You still had detail that you were able to recover in PP. And that's a perfectly legitimate part of the image-creation process. So, well done.
    Guess I just want to have everything perfect I drive my husband crazy sometimes............make that quite a few times.

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    Kris V's Avatar
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    Re: Trying to rescue a badly exposed picture

    Quote Originally Posted by FrankMi View Post
    Fun, isn't it!
    Oodles!
    I'm currently going to some of my early jpgs doing some serious house cleaning. Don't know what I was thinking 5-6 years ago when I thought they were actually decent.
    I never did anything with them, they were cluttering up my hard drive, and I'm not planning to waste time on pictures I can reshoot.
    Now, family snapshots are stored on CDs/DVDs, with a copy on an external HD off-site. They're too precious to loose - even if some of them are only so-so. When I retire, I may try to clean some of them up.

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    Re: Trying to rescue a badly exposed picture

    I think Donald is right - it is not as bad as you think. There are hundreds of ways you can treat "errors" but keep in mind the easiest way to start - you can load a jpeg into the adobe raw engine; you might be surprised. Do not be fooled by Silver Efex - it does nothing you cannot do yourself...

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    arith's Avatar
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    Re: Trying to rescue a badly exposed picture

    I had a go but although this is complicated the main change is an overlay duplicate layer inverted with a 40 pixel Gaussian blur applied.

    Trying to rescue a badly exposed picture

    I keep hearing the word blown, but I can't see it. I like the first one and the only way this pic gets properly exposed is with HDR. But you have already done the best job from one exposure.

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    Kris V's Avatar
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    Re: Trying to rescue a badly exposed picture

    Thanks all for your input - maybe I'm just too picky - or I've stared at this picture too long.
    In ACR it did show a blown sky - Exposure and recovery got some of it back, resulting in the darks getting too dark and loosing detail..
    Oh, Maurice, I like SilverFX very much. Especially in combination with layer blending.
    Steve - Thanks for the edit.
    I'm beginning to like this picture after all

  16. #16
    arith's Avatar
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    Re: Trying to rescue a badly exposed picture

    Quote Originally Posted by Kris V View Post
    Thanks all for your input - maybe I'm just too picky - or I've stared at this picture too long.
    In ACR it did show a blown sky - Exposure and recovery got some of it back, resulting in the darks getting too dark and loosing detail..
    Oh, Maurice, I like SilverFX very much. Especially in combination with layer blending.
    Steve - Thanks for the edit.
    I'm beginning to like this picture after all
    I find you can pull back 2 stops of overexposure if shot in RAW, and use fill light to get detail in shadows. I find it best to drop the exposure in ACR rather than over zealous use of recovery. This might be what Colin means by 11 stops range, since outside of 8 stops range I find things a bit bright at one end and too dark the other, before PP.

    So essentially you did get the exposure right if it was shot in RAW.

  17. #17

    Re: Trying to rescue a badly exposed picture

    Hello Kris-
    I agree with the others about this lovely image - the highlights are quite usable, just a few pixels blown out, while the shadows are blocked up. If you run a Threshold adjustment layer on the image, drag the slider first all the way to the right and the remaining white pixels that you see are blown out. Drag slider all the way to the left and you'll see the remaining black pixels which are blocked shadows. You can delete the adjustment layer when done. though I typically lay down 5x5 sample points on the last white and last black pixels. These are later useful to determine your white and black points of the image. Then delete the adjustment layer.
    To recover some tones, first make a copy of the original image <Control-J on a pc> as a layer over the background, then go to Image-->Adjustments-->Shadow/Highlights. I have my defaults set for Shadows: Amount=19, Tonal Width=24, Radius=30, and for Highlights: Amount=9, Tonal Width=20, Radius=30. This adjustments attempts to lighten your shadows and darken your highlights. At the setting above you can see a significant improvement in the shadows, which need the most rescue, but unfortunately are blocked. Play with the sliders for the effect you like best. You may want to increase contrast with the contrast slider.
    Shadow/highlights is one of my frequent "go to" moves in Photoshop.
    RichardsDay

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    Kris V's Avatar
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    Re: Trying to rescue a badly exposed picture

    Thanks for the feedback, Richard. I tabled this photo for a while, but I still might go back to it to try your suggestions.

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