Best use of Dynamic range

Discussion in 'Photography Beginners' Forum' started by Djwaas, Jul 21, 2018.

  1. Djwaas

    Djwaas TPF Noob!

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    This is a two parts question.


    Let’s imagine a photo in a beach of a model posing on the sand with a beautiful sunset in the background.

    We don’t want the model to be a mere silhouette and we don’t want to lose the details on the beautiful sunset.

    Finally, let’s say I don’t have strobes or reflectors to “compress” the DR.

    This is indeed a classical situation where a wide dynamic range may come to the rescue.


    Question 1: My workflow for post prod is quite the classical one: On Lightroom I apply various adjustments to the overall image, then I select “Open in Photoshop” for advanced retouching.

    It’s in PS that I will use precise masking to reveal the model by increasing exposure.

    • But isn’t too late? By that I mean have I already lost all data that RAW files could have provided for model to avoid noise all over her body?

    • If yes (it’s too late): What would be a better workflow?

    Question 2:Suppose I have two cameras. Camera A is a 300USD DSLR, and camera B is a 5000USD DSLR.

    Obviously, Camera B has a wider DR.

    • Will the difference in DR show up in all its glory straight after I take the shot? Or the full difference will be revealed in Post processing?

    • Another way to ask: With the same manual exposure settings, camera A shows the model well exposed but the sky is blown. Will Camera B give the same results on the camera screen? Or the full difference will be revealed in Post processing?

    Thanks all for your help!


    Regards.


     
  2. Jeff15

    Jeff15 TPF junkie!

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    Why not show us what you mean.......:)
     
  3. Overread

    Overread has a hat around here somewhere Staff Member Supporting Member

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    A few thoughts

    1) Camera A and B if of the same generation of sensor might not actually have a vast difference in dynamic range; if the core sensor technology is basically the same then they will have similar performance; with some refinements in the higher end one. Now if you're comparing fullframe to crop sensor in that then the larger sensor will generally perform better yes.

    So its not just price that comes into it.

    2) Lightroom has some quite powerful tools in it now; you've got a full masking mode so you could mask and adjust the exposure straight in lightroom itself without having to go to Photoshop. If its going to be your first step you might well find it a lot easier to do that all in Lightroom where you're working with the RAW data directly.
    If, instead, you want to combine them in Photoshop then the best approach would be to edit the RAW twice; once for the foreground and once for the background, then simply merge the results in Photoshops itself. This might be important for you if you want to use tools on each part in photoshop before merging the results. Eg you might find noise varies between the two and thus you want to perform noise reduction on each part separately and then combine them.

    3) Another approach, depending on how the scene is setup, is to take two photos at the time, once with the model and exposed for the model; the other exposed for the background. Then merge those two photos into a single composite in editing. This basically means that you're working with two RAW files exposed well for two differently lit subjects/areas.
     
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  4. snowbear

    snowbear . Staff Member Supporting Member

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    My vote is for #3 above - exposure stacking or "HDR". Just go easy on the sliders to prevent the cartoonish "grunge" effect or halos.
     
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  5. smoke665

    smoke665 TPF Supporters Supporting Member

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    Another consideration is that even on higher end cameras dynamic range decreases with every increase in ISO, and not all decrease in the same way. For example the DR on the D850 is bumping EV 15 at ISO 50, but at ISO 400 you're down to EV 13.

    As pointed out above Lr has the ability to mask and make non destructive edits, so global adjustments there are far better. Then you have the adjustment brushes for targeted adjustment.
     
  6. Ysarex

    Ysarex Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    Going to go backwards with your questions:

    Not necessarily -- depends on the sensor in the camera.

    Difference will be revealed in post processing with some minor qualifications. Both cameras will be engineered to produce a normal JPEG under normal lighting conditions -- results then between the cameras will be similar. The JPEGs from the cameras do not take full advantage of the DR capacity of the camera's sensor.

    The more expensive camera will probably provide a "DR" function that the lesser camera may lack. Canon cameras for example have a JEPG processing function called HTP, Fuji cameras have a function called DR, Nikon cameras have ADL etc. These functions are all added to the cameras to help them generate a better JPEG in high contrast light. They may allow camera B to best camera A but they will not compete with hand processed results.

    It's not too late to do the follow up processing in PS as long as you make sure that the file you export from LR is a Pro Photo color space, 16 bit TIFF/PSD file and that you haven't clipped the tonal data in LR.

    Still, better results are more likely if you can keep the processing in one application. The issue with LR is that it's masking capabilities are somewhat limited.

    Tip: Expose the sensor to capacity. Modern camera sensors will deliver between 10 to 11 stops of usable DR provided you expose the sensor to capacity. This more than anything else will be key to a successful result in what you're trying to do.

    If you expose to produce a normal well exposed JPEG from the camera you will be under utilizing the sensor by as much as 40%. Set the camera to it's base ISO and test the camera until you know how to fully expose the sensor. This will help: RawDigger.

    Joe
     
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  7. dennybeall

    dennybeall No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    You could also look for a large piece of white poster board and use it to reflect light on the person.
     
  8. photo1x1.com

    photo1x1.com No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Hi there and welcome to the forum!

    Google the term "ISO-invariance". With that big of a price difference, it is highly likely that there is quite a big difference in DR. Especially if they are of the same age. But if you close the price-gap, the difference at some ISO-values may not be visible at all.

    When shooting RAW you have so many options, the FULL difference will definitely be revealed in post. I´d say in general you can do 90% in Lightroom, and the last 10% that not everyone will even realize can be done in photoshop. But this 10 % can take up 98% of your time ;).

    One thing you can always do is open two versions of a file in layers in photoshop. One that is adjusted in Lightroom for the highlights and one for the shadows to get the least noise. Then you can do the masking in photoshop which takes more time but is more precise.
     
  9. mrca

    mrca No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Shooting in Florida and living 10 minutes from one of the best beaches in the nation, this is an issue I face constantly. To make matters even worse, sunset behind the subjects is a classic shot. One of the above posters mentioned maximizing the quality of the file. The way to do that is spot metering the brightest area you want detail, drop it to zone 8, ie decrease exposure 2 stops or using a calibrated meter, push highlights right up to the calibrated clipping point. It will give you information in the highlights to pull back and the best possible shadow information as far right as possible. If you are not doing either, you are loosing quality. Without lights, wait til the sun drops and the sky exposure is closer to the exposure on the subject exposure then either properly expose for the subject or maximize the file. Most non pro level slr's have a built in flash that can help fill the subjects to compress the range. Since the light on subject is light reflected back from the sun behind the subject, it will be crappy flat light. Filling crap light yields full crap light but when there is no alternative, getting the shot is sometimes better than no shot at all. Besides, most folks don't know the difference.
     
  10. pandes

    pandes TPF Noob!

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    subscribed, this seems like a very interesting thread
     
  11. greybeard

    greybeard Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    This is what I'm thinking. I usa a D750, shoot for the highlights and PP for the shadows. I get everything done in LR and rarely have to go PS.
     

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