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Thread: Pushing highlights and Photoshop's RAW Plugin

  1. #1

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    Pushing highlights and Photoshop's RAW Plugin

    If you push highlights (or expose to the right), what is your preferred workflow in Photoshop's RAW Plugin for insuring best use of the pushed tonal range?

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    DanK's Avatar
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    Re: Pushing highlights and Photoshop's RAW Plugin

    Edit: Not sure what you mean by "raw plugin." I'm assuming that you mean Adobe Camera Raw, which is the raw processing engine in Photoshop (and also in Lightroom, although with a different interface.) This is not a plug-in; it's a core part of PS. If you mean an actual plug-in (a term usually used to refer to after-market add-ons, like the Nik filters), then my answer below may be completely off.

    It depends on the image, as almost all of my preferred workflow does.

    ETTR, done right, doesn't necessarily yield a "pushed" range. Rather, if the image has a considerably narrower tonal range than the sensor can handle, ETTR (at least as I do it) simply means exposing so that the mass of the histogram is nearer the top than the bottom. (In practice, I worry less about it being close to the top than about keeping it away from the bottom. A narrow histogram in the middle range is usually not a problem in postprocessing.) Aiming higher than that might or might not result in an image that looks too bright, depending on what the image is.

    If this yields an image that looks too bright, I simply pull down exposure overall, or pull down the top of the histogram (e.g., using the highlights or whites slider). In other cases, the brights look about right, but the limited tonal range is problematic, so I pull down the blacks or use another approach to stretch out the left-hand side. However, all this depends on what the image looks like on the screen.
    Last edited by DanK; 22nd August 2014 at 06:22 PM.

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    Shadowman's Avatar
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    Re: Pushing highlights and Photoshop's RAW Plugin

    One thing I've noticed with Photoshop is that the AUTO correction almost never alleviates the red blinkies when blown highlights are indicated. I think the reasoning is that if it recognizes white it never alters the highlights, if it doesn't recognize or measure white then it moves the tonal range inward on the slider. I typically try to alter highlights until the triangle becomes solid or the red blinkies go away, but then I check the image to see if even that was enough.

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    Administrator Manfred M's Avatar
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    Re: Pushing highlights and Photoshop's RAW Plugin

    First of all, I rarely use ETTR, as I find that when I shoot low ISO, reasonably short exposures and properly expose the image, I don't have a noise issue, so ETTR is unneccessary.

    A number of people have suggested that just working your way down, from top to bottom on the "basic" tab is the right way to go. I find that I don't like this workflow and acutally work backwards. In fact, I start on the "lens correction" tab and check off both the lens correction and CA check boxes. The lens correction removes lens vignetting and not only corrects distortions, but lightens the corners of the images, so I may need to correct these later on in my workflow.

    I then go back to the basic tab and the first thing I do is change the clarity, vibrance and (rarely) the saturation settings. This tends to brighten the image a bit too.

    My next step (if the image has black and white ares) is to set the black point and white point. If things are blowing out or blocking, I will also adjust the shadows and highlights sliders. My next step is to change the contrast, if required, the the exposure. I finally go back and set the white balance.

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    carolus's Avatar
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    Re: Pushing highlights and Photoshop's RAW Plugin

    Quote Originally Posted by GrumpyDiver View Post
    A number of people have suggested that just working your way down, from top to bottom on the "basic" tab is the right way to go. I find that I don't like this workflow and acutally work backwards. In fact, I start on the "lens correction" tab and check off both the lens correction and CA check boxes. The lens correction removes lens vignetting and not only corrects distortions, but lightens the corners of the images, so I may need to correct these later on in my workflow.

    I then go back to the basic tab and the first thing I do is change the clarity, vibrance and (rarely) the saturation settings. This tends to brighten the image a bit too.

    My next step (if the image has black and white ares) is to set the black point and white point. If things are blowing out or blocking, I will also adjust the shadows and highlights sliders. My next step is to change the contrast, if required, the the exposure. I finally go back and set the white balance.
    Hello Manfred,

    Some years ago, I read that ACR processes stuff in a certain order. Seemed important if one didn't want a current adjustment to somehow affect one already made. I noted the order but have forgotten the link.

    The order was:

    White Balance
    Exposure
    Shadows
    Saturation
    Brightness
    Contrast
    Curve - no such in my version 5.4 under PSE 6.

    The list is no doubt longer for later versions and versions with more tabs enabled by LR or PS.

    Main point being that if a current adjustment affects a previous one then you get to be iterating.

    Charles

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    Administrator Manfred M's Avatar
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    Re: Pushing highlights and Photoshop's RAW Plugin

    Quote Originally Posted by carolus View Post
    Hello Manfred,

    Some years ago, I read that ACR processes stuff in a certain order. Seemed important if one didn't want a current adjustment to somehow affect one already made. I noted the order but have forgotten the link.

    The order was:

    White Balance
    Exposure
    Shadows
    Saturation
    Brightness
    Contrast
    Curve - no such in my version 5.4 under PSE 6.

    The list is no doubt longer for later versions and versions with more tabs enabled by LR or PS.

    Main point being that if a current adjustment affects a previous one then you get to be iterating.

    Charles
    You read (or remembered) incorrectly. ACR does things in whatever order you choose to and yes, the effects of an edit are additive.

    I find that when I use ACR, I adjust the sliders I previously moved to compensate for these additive effects.

    As an example; even though it is not part of the "basic" pallette; I usually set my lens profile correction / Chromatic Abberation correction first. This step removes the natural vignetting from a lens, and areas that are likely to "blow" out will get lightened before any other editing is done.

    Editing is an interative process where the preceeding steps impact the following ones. With ACR / Lightroom being parametric editors, all of this work is non-destructive, so going back is quite easy.

  7. #7
    carolus's Avatar
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    Re: Pushing highlights and Photoshop's RAW Plugin

    Quote Originally Posted by GrumpyDiver View Post
    You read (or remembered) incorrectly. ACR does things in whatever order you choose to and yes, the effects of an edit are additive.
    Thanks for the clarification. It may be that what I read was to do with the order of processing when the image is exported from ACR to LR/PS/PSE.

    Thanks again.

  8. #8
    Administrator Manfred M's Avatar
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    Re: Pushing highlights and Photoshop's RAW Plugin

    Quote Originally Posted by carolus View Post
    Thanks for the clarification. It may be that what I read was to do with the order of processing when the image is exported from ACR to LR/PS/PSE.

    Thanks again.

    I hadn't noticed that you are a new member when I responded, Charles. So, first of all, welcome to CiC.

    Most of us here at CiC go on a first name basis; so would you mind adding yours to your Profile (just click the "My Profile" tab at the top of the page to access it. Then click on the "About Me" tab and finally click the pencil icon beside "Real Name".

    With respect to exporting; the ACR edit data is stored in a sidecar (*.xmp) file (same file name as the orginal file, but with a .xmp extension) when you save your ACR edits and these are what Photoshop accesses when your file is opened. If you are using DNG files, the edit metadata is embedded in the DNG file. I believe this is what happens in Elements and Lightroom as well; but I am not an Elements user and not my usual workflow when using Lightroom. Again; the order you do the edits is irrelevent; although some authors suggest that the top-to-bottom flow in the "basic" module is a good place to start.


    Manfred

  9. #9

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    Re: Pushing highlights and Photoshop's RAW Plugin

    Ed,
    When you use ETTR it often effects different color channels differently. The red is most likely to blow out for instance. I often go to the HCL/Greyscale Tab and fiddle there a bit to even things out and then go back to the main tab.

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