Tricks to using RAW - don't burn the results!

Discussion in 'Photography Beginners' Forum' started by Overread, Feb 11, 2010.

  1. Overread

    Overread has a hat around here somewhere Staff Member Supporting Member

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    Sometimes you get a shot, an no matter how well you controled the shot and the lighting at the time you will get areas where there are very strong whites and very dark blacks.
    So you bring the shot back and open it up in RAW editing using your choice of program and you are met with a problem. No matter how you adjust the sliders you just can't get the whites to show their detail without having a very dark shot overall which then looks underexposed. So you have to bite the bullet and either go for an overall brighter shot and less details or a darker more detailed shot.

    However all is not lost - you can set the exposure to look brighter - open the shot up into editing and then use the burn tool to lessen that harsh white glare and show up some of the hidden away details; and if you work with the bursh set to a low exposure (say around 7) you can build up the effect in layers to get the amount you want.

    I did this myself in the shot below
    [​IMG]

    In this shot the left side of the tail and head were far too bright for the rest of the shot - so I burned them.

    However in burning they have taken on a slightly greyer tone than when the shot was taken, when the insect was shown as being more white rather than grey. So what to do - well one way is to process the RAW file twice and then merge the combined shots together.

    Just using the exposure slider alone one can get a single shot to look like the following pair:

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Two very different looks from the very same image and each one showing something that the other can't achive alone. Process and save the results each shot - keeping such settings as white balance, clarity, saturation, contrast etc.. the same between both shots. Just adjust the exopsure and brightness sliders. (save as a TIFF file so that the image quality is preserved rather than a JPEG which will lose data with more saves).

    Now with both shots open you can take the underexposed version and copy and then paste it as a layer into workspace for the overexposed shot. Now you can use a layermask and a brush to brush away those areas of the shot you don't want and those you do.

    (there is more info on working with layermasks in general here:
    Layers -- Part I
    further for those on photoshop elements there is a free layermask addon here:
    Free Layer Mask Tool for Photoshop Elements (Win/Mac Any Version) )

    Thus allowing you to combine the results from both images into a single shot:
    [​IMG]
    (note this might look darker than the above and that is just a result of me playing around with editing and ending up with a darker result in the end - and probably my viewing angle being different at the time because of my cheap monitor.....)
    Note how the whites are now actually white rather than a shade of grey.

    Of course you can do this more than once if you also want to overexpose the shot to show up more details in the darker areas (remember though that these areas will start to show more noise as a result of the increasing of exposure). And thus you can process two or three images together this way.

    Some might call this method tone mapping or false HDR as well.
    Larger examples of all the shots here are present in the flickr set:
    MPE 65mm first field test - a set on Flickr
     
    Last edited: Feb 11, 2010
  2. Felix0890

    Felix0890 TPF Noob!

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    This is what I like to call "the lazy man's version of HDR." I use it all the time when I get an image like you described. Thanks for sharing. :thumbup:
     
  3. Stormchase

    Stormchase No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    I have played with this once. It seemed to get good resaults for little work. Thanks for the write up.
     
  4. TiaS

    TiaS TPF Noob!

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    thanks for this. What is the difference between a mask and layer?
     
  5. Overread

    Overread has a hat around here somewhere Staff Member Supporting Member

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    A layer is a different layer of the photo and is stacked ontop (or under) the other layers that you use. A layer mask is a mask which is applied to a layer so that you can remove parts of that layer and thus allow a layer below to be shown.

    Think of layers like sheets of paper and layer masks the cutting tools. You can put one page over another and you won't see the page below - but if you cut away parts of it you can now show the page below (in part) at the same time.

    However a layermask is more refined than that even because you can adjust the brush "exposure" and thus create a tracing paper effect - allowing only a part of one layer to show through to a select amount. This is good for example if you make a change but its too powerfull overall (say too bright) so you let only part of that change through that you need.

    Don't confuse this though with adjustment layers (such as a contrast or saturation) these are always shown and apply a change to all the visable layers - such as changing the contrast of the shot.

    There is more (and probably better written) in the link I gave in the first post.
     
  6. burstintoflame81

    burstintoflame81 TPF Noob!

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    You can also create a new layer that is Gray and Overlay. Set your brush really low at like 8-12%. Then paint in white to burn and black to dodge. You can create a seperate layer for each so that it makes it easier to tweak each and to toggle on and off. I prefer this over the dodge and burn tools just because that is what I have gotten used to.
     
  7. Overread

    Overread has a hat around here somewhere Staff Member Supporting Member

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    I think I might have used that method myself once or twice in the past as well. Suffice to say even photoshop elements gives a lot of different methods for reaching similar or the very same result.
     
  8. The_Traveler

    The_Traveler Completely Counter-dependent Supporting Member

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    To better understand layers and masking (dodging and burning and a million other very useful things you should know), get Karen Eissmann's marvelous book called [ame="http://www.amazon.com/Photoshop-Masking-Compositing-Katrin-Eismann/dp/0735712794/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1266282859&sr=1-1"]Photoshop Masking and Compositing[/ame].
     
  9. Overread

    Overread has a hat around here somewhere Staff Member Supporting Member

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    Out of interest any idea how well the book transfers to use with elements? I've tried some of the "advanced" method and tricks that I've read about on the net and in one or two odd magazines and often I can get so far but will hit a limitation or missing control in elements to go further.
     
  10. The_Traveler

    The_Traveler Completely Counter-dependent Supporting Member

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    Sorry, I don't have elements so I can't tell you.

    The book deals with the issues of selection, layers, layer-masking, channel masking, layer blending, etc. and goes well past the global changes into small area modifications.

    There are many examples of what can be done and how it gets done.
     

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raws dont burn good