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Thread: Exposing for foreground and background using 1 image.

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    Klickit's Avatar
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    Exposing for foreground and background using 1 image.

    Recently, Peter Ryan was kind enough to outline a method which gives a more balanced over-all exposure to an image using one original. He can say what to do:

    Quote Originally Posted by Peter Ryan View Post
    Try this simple method Kit. You only need one image so there is no potential for blur.
    Take an image where there are no blown highlights.
    Process it in ACR and expose for the foreground. Open it and save it.
    Then, process the raw file again but this time exposure it for the sky. Open it and save it.
    Now, copy the dark image (sky) onto the lighter one.
    Apply a layer mask to the sky image. Alt click on the mask to open it in the main window. Click the eye symbol in the darker layer to hide it (so you can now see the Background layer). Choose the Background layer Ctr A (select all) and Ctl C to copy it.
    Now click on the eye symbol to reveal the Sky layer and mask and paste the background layer onto THE MASK. This will give you a black and white image (specific dodge and burn).
    Go to Blur, Gaussian Blur and apply a blur to around 40.
    Now click on the background layer and you’re done.
    You might have to apply some minor overall lightening – use Levels of Curves for effect.
    Sometimes I will apply a gradient (black to transparent) to the mask to ensure I do not get any darker tones in the foreground. You can play with this as you like.

    It is an easy way to expose for both shadows and highlights in an image without taking multiple images but you need a good exposure to work with.

    Let me know how you go.
    Foreground processing, ie for bridge and buildings:
    Exposing for foreground and background using 1 image.

    Background processing , ie for clouds:
    Exposing for foreground and background using 1 image.

    Final image:
    Exposing for foreground and background using 1 image.

    I was quite pleased with the way this came out in this initial test. As Peter suggested, some levels and curves was also needed. I'll be tinkering with this method some more.

    Thanks, Peter.

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    Peter Ryan's Avatar
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    Re: Exposing for foreground and background using 1 image.

    Hi Kit,

    Gald to see it worked for you. I was in the snow recently at Craig's Hut, there are images all over the site from the trip, and I needed to use this method with many of the shots. As I said you do need to bring the black and white clipping points in a bit to boost the contrast.

    There are some additional bits you can do, where you have landscapes with foregrouand and sky, using gradients on the mask that works well also. Let me know when you get to that task and will go deeper but this is a good start.

    Tell me Kit do you use Elements or Photoshop? I was asked if you could do this with Elements but I don't have Elements.

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    Have a guess :)

    Re: Exposing for foreground and background using 1 image.

    How's this - reworked from the 2nd (dark) image, mostly just with ACR

    Exposing for foreground and background using 1 image.

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    Peter Ryan's Avatar
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    Re: Exposing for foreground and background using 1 image.

    I agree Colin the final image could be a bit darker and Kit could achieve this using with her final iamge by bringing the black point in and puling down the curve but a good first effort.

    With this one Kit all I did was take your two image perform the moves above but pulled down the curves.

    Exposing for foreground and background using 1 image.

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    Peter Ryan's Avatar
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    Re: Exposing for foreground and background using 1 image.

    Quote Originally Posted by Colin Southern View Post
    How's this - reworked from the 2nd (dark) image, mostly just with ACR

    Exposing for foreground and background using 1 image.
    Hi Colin,

    The ACR approach is good for images where you can select detail relatively easily and expose for different areas. This technique is good for landscapes where it is harder to select, particularly trees and woodlands, etc.

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    Re: Exposing for foreground and background using 1 image.

    Hi Peter,

    I didn't use any selections

    The point I've been trying to make in a few threads over the past few months is that the camera captures a LOT more detail than we can display on our screens) (around 64x as much in fact) - so the key thing to remember with any landscape (or high DR scene) is "don't blow the highlights" -- if a high DR scene survives with the highlights relatively intact, 99% of the time all the shadow stuff that people can't see - but want to be able to see - is nicely tucked away just waiting to be revealed with the likes of the fill light and brightness controls.

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    Peter Ryan's Avatar
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    Re: Exposing for foreground and background using 1 image.

    Quote Originally Posted by Colin Southern View Post
    Hi Peter,

    I didn't use any selections

    The point I've been trying to make in a few threads over the past few months is that the camera captures a LOT more detail than we can display on our screens) (around 64x as much in fact) - so the key thing to remember with any landscape (or high DR scene) is "don't blow the highlights" -- if a high DR scene survives with the highlights relatively intact, 99% of the time all the shadow stuff that people can't see - but want to be able to see - is nicely tucked away just waiting to be revealed with the likes of the fill light and brightness controls.
    I agree 200% Colin. I did say in another post on this issue that I shoot RAW with the 'shoot to the right' mantra but don't blow the highlights. It is amazing how much detail you get from the supposedly underexposed areas.

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    Klickit's Avatar
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    Re: Exposing for foreground and background using 1 image.

    Yeah....I was a bit fairy footed on the blacks. I was doing the pixel-peep *waits for finger wag* and could see some clipping starting on the dark areas under the bottom bit of roadway, and thought "Argh - noise!" but actually, that doesn't matter when considering the image over-all. I generally like stronger contrast too and often push curves a bit to get that (as in the bridge pano) but today, just getting the process nailed was good. Thanks, guys, for your input and interpretations.

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    Klickit's Avatar
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    Re: Exposing for foreground and background using 1 image.

    Quote Originally Posted by Peter Ryan View Post
    I agree Colin the final image could be a bit darker and Kit could achieve this using with her final iamge by bringing the black point in and puling down the curve but a good first effort.

    With this one Kit all I did was take your two image perform the moves above but pulled down the curves.

    Exposing for foreground and background using 1 image.
    Peter, re-looking at this, you have a much cleaner look on the white curved areas of the bridge than I have achieved. How did you manage that and still get the darker over-all look? Mine have an almost tone-mapped halo look about them that I don't altogether like. Is it to do with the curves adjustment?

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    Re: Exposing for foreground and background using 1 image.

    hi

    i tried Peter's process. Seems my pic is still under-expose at the bottom of the bridge/
    Need more practice.

    Though this one is better than the original which is underexpose foreground and overexpose background.

    Exposing for foreground and background using 1 image.

    Thanks guys for sharing.

    Mark

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    Re: Exposing for foreground and background using 1 image.

    Quote Originally Posted by triggerhappy View Post
    i tried Peter's process. Seems my pic is still under-expose at the bottom of the bridge/
    Need more practice.
    Mark

    Well done. The important thing you write is acknowledging the need to keep practicing. Too many people feel that if they don't get it right first or second time, then the cannot learn. As you say, it is about practicing. And the good feeling, when you master the particular step that you are practicing, is that it seems so easy.

    With your new image, you also have the option of applying some 'dodge' to reveal more detail. Dodging and Burning is another skill set that, if you have not studied, can be learned in the future.

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    Re: Exposing for foreground and background using 1 image.

    Quote Originally Posted by Donald View Post
    Mark

    Well done. The important thing you write is acknowledging the need to keep practicing. Too many people feel that if they don't get it right first or second time, then the cannot learn. As you say, it is about practicing. And the good feeling, when you master the particular step that you are practicing, is that it seems so easy.

    With your new image, you also have the option of applying some 'dodge' to reveal more detail. Dodging and Burning is another skill set that, if you have not studied, can be learned in the future.
    I know it needs more adjustment.
    Very informative thread.

    Thanks Donald.

    Mark

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    Re: Exposing for foreground and background using 1 image.

    Quote Originally Posted by triggerhappy View Post
    hi

    i tried Peter's process. Seems my pic is still under-expose at the bottom of the bridge/
    Need more practice.

    Though this one is better than the original which is underexpose foreground and overexpose background.

    Exposing for foreground and background using 1 image.

    Thanks guys for sharing.

    Mark
    Hi Mark,

    I was waiting for someone to come up with this issue because it is easier to explain and add a bit more to the method than try and tell all at once. You have the main bit worked through, which ids great.

    Try this extension to the process. I have found that sometimes the dark layer comes through, say, at the bottom and interferes with a nicely exposed foreground. If you try to lighten using curves then the sky will blow out again.

    When you copy the Background layer onto the dark copy (or sky) layer MASK you get a black and white copy that essentially is a nice detailed Dodge and Burn skin for the blend.

    After applying the Gaussian Blur and while you still have the Layer MASK open apply a Gradient (Foreground to Transparent) from bottom to the top (hold the SHIFT key while you draw the gradient and it will give you a straight line).

    Now the areas of Black/White and Grey in the Gradient may not be exactly where you want them. Use Ctl L to apply the Levels command directly to the MASK (if you apply a Levels Layer Adjustment it will apply to all layers and not the mask. We want just the MASK). Now if you move the Black Point to the right it will increase the amount of Black. The White Point to the Left will increase the amount of White and the Mid Tone Point will change the rate of transition from Black to White. In this way you can finesse your mask and stop any of the darker layer interfering with the correctly exposed foreground in the lighter one.

    Let me know how you get on.

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    Peter Ryan's Avatar
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    Re: Exposing for foreground and background using 1 image.

    Quote Originally Posted by Klickit View Post
    Peter, re-looking at this, you have a much cleaner look on the white curved areas of the bridge than I have achieved. How did you manage that and still get the darker over-all look? Mine have an almost tone-mapped halo look about them that I don't altogether like. Is it to do with the curves adjustment?
    Hi Kit,

    I just took your two images and applied the process and then pulled the Curve down quite a bit to closer match the underlying histogram shape (the shaded area in the curve box). I did not change the clipping points as the histogram was pretty good across the range. Nothing more.

    I would like to see you try this process on the Old Man Pine you posted earlier.

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    Klickit's Avatar
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    Re: Exposing for foreground and background using 1 image.

    Quote Originally Posted by Peter Ryan View Post
    Hi Kit,

    I just took your two images and applied the process and then pulled the Curve down quite a bit to closer match the underlying histogram shape (the shaded area in the curve box). I did not change the clipping points as the histogram was pretty good across the range. Nothing more.

    I would like to see you try this process on the Old Man Pine you posted earlier.
    Thanks Peter. I will be doing the old man pine at some stage soon, but he is on the backburner just for now. But I'll post him up here as soon as he is done. I'm very interested to see what can be done with a whole bunch of shots I took of that tree, mostly trios for hdr, as a friend who owns the property had asked for a record of it. Until you offered your one image solution, I'd been tearing my hair out as I made version number #XXX and still wasn't happy with the results. You will allow me to save face!

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