21 Replies Latest reply: Jul 10, 2012 1:35 AM by PECourtejoie RSS

    Shadows and Highlights

    MikeKPhoto Community Member

      Working on an image this evening, vintage car detail shot with a Canon 5D MKII, in ACR 7.1 trying to get some more detail of a grill, and noticed that playing with the Shadow slider it removed the clipping from a very specular highlight.  Would not have thought that would have happened, but I have been wrong before. The highlight in particular was located in a high value area, so that was my thinking the Shadow control should not have pulled down the highlight?

       

      Amother interesting factoid if I push the shadow slider all the way to the left the highlight clipping indicator comes back on, push a small way to the right and the clipping indicator shows no clipping.

       

      MK

        • 2. Re: Shadows and Highlights
          MikeKPhoto Community Member

          Thanks, interesting read, but still confused why adjusting shadow would impact a specular highlight - must be some non-linear stuff going on behind the scenes. Having the shadow slider fully to the left and clipping comes on, slight move of the slider to the right and no clipping - would have thought it would have been the other way round, opening up the shadows and making the scene brighter makes sense, but not the other way round

           

          Now my brain hurts

           

          MK

          • 3. Re: Shadows and Highlights
            areohbee Community Member

            Hi Mike,

             

            Despite Eric's input in Dorin's thread, I still don't understand this either.

             

            I've seen it, and learned to live with this sort of funny-business, but I still don't understand it.

             

            Did you ever get it adjusted the way you wanted?

             

            Would you mind posting the raw, or sending to me privately?

             

            Rob

            • 4. Re: Shadows and Highlights
              MikeKPhoto Community Member

              Did I get the image adjusted the way I wanted? Close, but not really, but have not spent any more time as I have some paying jobs to get out the door.

               

              More than pleased to send you a copy of the RAW file, it's from a 5D MKII - what's the best way to get it to you?

               

              Mike

              • 5. Re: Shadows and Highlights
                MadManChan2000 Adobe Employee

                It depends on what your other Basic settings were set to ... do you recall setting Whites, Blacks, or Clarity to non-zero values while playing with the Shadows slider?

                • 6. Re: Shadows and Highlights
                  areohbee Community Member

                  Still looking for that raw Mike,

                   

                  In the mean time, I went back and re-processed Dorin's snow pic, which exhibited similar symptoms, except this time I used much greater exposure/whites ratio, and used tone curve to drop the bottom end and midtones down. Final result: almost the same, except shadows / highlights sliders weren't behaving funny. (original processing had very low exposure, and very high +whites).

                   

                  Conclusion:

                  ----------------

                  PV2012 seems to be at it's finest when pumped/primed with sufficient exposure. It can be considered a trick-o'-th'-trade, in my opinion, to sometimes err on the side of overexposure, then bring down using tone curve, if need be, and/or back off of exposure, once everything else adjusted, at least in cases where shadows (and/or highlights) slider is doing funny things... high +whites can sometimes look nice in some shots, but is not a substitute for +exposure in the eyes of the V2012 processing.

                   

                  Rob

                  • 7. Re: Shadows and Highlights
                    MikeKPhoto Community Member

                    Rob:

                     

                    Tied up with paying jobs will see if I can send this afternoon or this evening.

                     

                     

                    Eric:

                     

                    Here are the settings for this behavior:

                     

                    Lens correction applied (my first step in my workflow)

                    Exposure: +0.15

                    Contrast: 0

                    Highlights: -67

                    Shadows: -67

                    Whites: +17

                    Blacks: 0

                    Clarity: 0

                    Vibrance: 0

                    Saturation: 0

                     

                    No other adjustments made via the other tabs

                     

                    Adjusting the shadow control to -88 and the highlight clipping area increases

                     

                    Here is a screen shot of the image in the ACR window. You can see the highlight clipping - the clipping changes are subtle with the shadow slider

                     

                    Mike

                     

                    Clipping.JPG

                    • 8. Re: Shadows and Highlights
                      areohbee Community Member

                      Hi Mike.

                       

                      MikeKPhoto wrote:

                       

                      Tied up with paying jobs will see if I can send this afternoon or this evening.

                       

                      OK.

                       

                       

                       

                       

                      MikeKPhoto wrote:

                       

                      Here are the settings for this behavior:

                       

                      Lens correction applied (my first step in my workflow)

                      Exposure: +0.15

                      Contrast: 0

                      Highlights: -67

                      Shadows: -67

                      Whites: +17

                      Blacks: 0

                      Clarity: 0

                      Vibrance: 0

                      Saturation: 0

                       

                      No other adjustments made via the other tabs

                       

                      Adjusting the shadow control to -88 and the highlight clipping area increases

                       

                      Mike, having large negative values for both highlights & shadows is almost always a sign that you need to reduce exposure.

                       

                      My guess: this photo needs (from where it's at, not from zero):

                       

                      -exposure

                      +highlights

                      +shadows

                      -blacks

                      +contrast

                       

                      Why?

                       

                      * -exposure: see above

                      * +highlights, to bring highlights back up, given -exposure

                      * +shadows, to bring shadows back up, given -exposure

                      * -blacks: I'm guessing you had -shadows because you wanted some shadows. Most photos where deep shadows and well-seated blacks are desirable, benefit from -blacks.

                      * +contrast: I'm assuming due to the original +exposure -shadows you had, that you're wanting a contrastier image.

                       

                      PS - Try a pinch of +clarity when you're done with the others.

                       

                      Note: This does NOT explain the funny behavior with the shadows slider and the highlight clipping: Eric may be able to shed more light.

                       

                      But, you're not using PV2012 nearest it's "sweet spot", in which case things can often be a bit wonky.

                       

                      It's a very common mistake, one I made a million times in the beginning, to dive too soon into highlights and shadows sliders to try and do with them what should be done using exposure and contrast sliders. They (highlights/shadows) can do a lot of same (what exposure & contrast do), but nearly always leads to sub-optimal results. Midtone level should be set using exposure slider, and midtone separation should be set using contrast slider - highlights/shadows are your fine tuners to make sure highlights are not over-bright, nor shadows too dim, after adjusting the fore-mentioned.

                       

                      Cheers,

                      Rob

                      • 9. Re: Shadows and Highlights
                        MikeKPhoto Community Member

                        On my monitor having the exposure set to zero (as shot) while looks OK does not look as good as giving it a slight increase. But interestingly by bringing the exposure down, the clipping issue got worse

                         

                        The settings I gave were the ones that made the clipping issue appear, looks like my final version, before I open in Photoshop will be more like:

                         

                        Exposure: 0

                        Contrast:0

                        Highlights: +15

                        Shadows: +40

                        Whites: -51

                        Blacks: -18

                        Clarity: +3

                         

                        To my eye this gives me the image I envisioned when I took the shot

                         

                        Mike

                        • 10. Re: Shadows and Highlights
                          areohbee Community Member

                          Hi Mike,

                           

                          Yeah, I really dunno what's up with the clipping being "reversely connected" to the shadows. That's something Eric needs to comment more on, if he will.

                           

                          Anyway, did you try +contrast? Sorry, if I'm getting too much into your stuff here, but it seems with the +highlights -whites, you are trying to increase contrast without blowing out the highlights.

                           

                          My experience has been that *usually* it would be best in these circumstances to have +contrast -highlights, instead of +highlights -whites.

                           

                          Again, please forgive if you know exactly what you are doing - I haven't even seen the photo!

                           

                          As a general rule to be broken, -highlights should be used if possible for highlight recovery (>90% of shots), and -whites reserved for a minority of occasions...

                           

                          It depends on what you are trying to accomplish, but -whites nearly always leads to a flatter look. If that's what you want, then more power to ya, but +whites -highlights will really make that ford shine!...

                           

                          Cheers,

                          Rob

                          • 11. Re: Shadows and Highlights
                            MadManChan2000 Adobe Employee

                            The main I see is that you have Whites/Blacks set to non-zero values.  Their effect and strength will depend on what you've set Highlights & Shadows to (this is why W/B is below H/S).  I'd be curious if this still happens when adjusting S when W/B are set to zero.

                            • 12. Re: Shadows and Highlights
                              areohbee Community Member

                              Although I haven't yet got my mits on the raw, I gather:

                               

                              * shadows slider is affecting the whites adjustment behavior. - with decreasing shadows value, the -whites adjustment has less oomph at the top-most end, thus reducing shadows results in clipping indicator being re-asserted.

                               

                              Eric has been cautioning us since day 1 about diving too soon into the whites &| blacks sliders before solidifying the ones above it. This sort of thing is probably one of the reasons why...

                               

                              If you choose to adjust whites/blacks etc "ahead of schedule", just be aware, that they may need to be revisited again before its over. Doing things out of order assures optimal adjustment requires multiple passes. I'm not saying this is necessarily a bad thing: the final result depends only on the final values of all sliders, but its definitely something to be aware of, so you can adapt to PV2012, like how it's adapting slider behaviors to your images.

                               

                              Eric: If you ever publish a more thorough "white paper" treatment of this subject, I would love to read it.

                               

                              Cheers,

                              Rob

                              • 13. Re: Shadows and Highlights
                                MadManChan2000 Adobe Employee

                                Some day (and that day may never come ...) I'll do a white paper or blog post about it.  But until that day ...

                                 

                                ... my general advice is to use the sliders top-down.  If you set things like Whites & Blacks first, then go back up to adjust other things like Highlights/Shadows, that will change how W&B behave, and so you'll likely need to touch W&B again.  Of course, the system isn't perfect, so in some cases you may need to bounce back and forth a little bit, but usually not much. 

                                • 14. Re: Shadows and Highlights
                                  areohbee Community Member

                                  MadManChan2000 wrote:

                                   

                                  Some day (and that day may never come ...) I'll do a white paper or blog post about it.  But until that day ...

                                   

                                  Me hopeful, but not expectant...

                                   

                                   

                                  MadManChan2000 wrote:

                                   

                                  ... my general advice is to use the sliders top-down...

                                   

                                  I'm sure, in general, that's good advice - thanks Eric.

                                   

                                  But, I would caution people against being too rigid, procedurally (order-wise).

                                   

                                  I just went back and processed one of my favorite shots, that I had done in my earlier days with PV2012. It was a very low contrast shot; my settings were:

                                   

                                  * exposure: -.2

                                  * contrast: 100

                                  * highlights: +35

                                  * shadows: -50

                                  * whites +30

                                  * blacks -20

                                  * clarity 10

                                   

                                  After reprocessing, the main difference being the use of whites & blacks before contrast, are:

                                   

                                  * exposure: +.3

                                  * contrast: 65

                                  * highlights: -10

                                  * shadows: +20

                                  * whites: +50

                                  * blacks: -60

                                  * clarity: 0

                                   

                                  The overall tonality is approximately the same, but the reprocessed result is significantly better (PV2012 rocks!). Note: there were also some local adjustments, and tone curve, not listed.

                                   

                                  My point is that, in this case, doing contrast first inevitably leads one to max out contrast, which is still not enough, then resort to highlights & shadows to get additional "contrast", then take it the rest of the way, contrast-wise, using whites & blacks. As re-processed, there is less compression of highlight and shadow tones, yet still plenty of midtone contrast: clarity absolutely not needed nor desirable with this much tonal separation via the other controls.

                                   

                                  Moral of the story: Heed Eric's wisdom, but be light on your feet too!

                                   

                                  PS - although this was not a "normal" photo, my point still stands.

                                   

                                  Final notes: I always watch exposure like a hawk in PV2012, regardless of what I start with, and in the reprocessed case, the tone curve is a de-brightening one, since it seems PV2012 tonability is sometimes enhanced with greater than "ultimately-preferred" exposure.

                                   

                                  Before ( no adjustments ) - AdobeRGB, not sRGB, which means you must click for a properly displayed view, since this website ignores color profile in inline view:

                                  NIK3_33290-2.jpg

                                   

                                   

                                  After final adjustments: (AdobeRGB, not sRGB, which means you must click for a properly displayed view, since this website ignores color profile in inline view):

                                  NIK3_33290.jpg

                                  This picture was taken outdoors, in the evening, long after sundown, no flash (nor any other form of added light, except Lightroom ).

                                   

                                  Cheers,

                                  Rob

                                  • 15. Re: Shadows and Highlights
                                    Gary.Voth Community Member

                                    I would like to state for the record that I find the old UI much more intuitive and easy to use.  The Fill Light and Recovery sliders pretty much did exactly what you expected them to. I also found it helpful to have direct control over the black clipping point.

                                     

                                    The actions of the new Highlight and Shadow sliders are less predictable and they seem to affect far more of the tonal range. Often after adjusting one setting, I find I have to fiddle with other settings to bring the image back to where I want it to be.

                                     

                                    I really like the results attainable with the new ACR, just not the new controls. 

                                     

                                    I'm am trying to keep an open mind and learn the new paradigm, and maybe I'll get a feel for it, but I would say on average It takes me twice as long to adjust an image now. That's a pretty disastrous hit to workflow efficiency.

                                    • 16. Re: Shadows and Highlights
                                      Noel Carboni Community Member

                                      I'll add, for the record, that I'm able to get better looking images more quickly with the new UI. 

                                       

                                      I can say from personal experience (since the start of the PS CS6 beta) that it's possible to get used to it.

                                       

                                      -Noel

                                      • 17. Re: Shadows and Highlights
                                        MikeKPhoto Community Member

                                        Now I have been working with the new UI and getting used to some of the quirks like I mention above and previewing the image at 50 or 100% because of the clipping display issues, getting very good results consistently and have not fallen back to the 2010 process.

                                         

                                        I am a Dmax fanatic, especially with my black & white work, and I hate blown highlights, so while I have taken Eric's advice and work down the controls in sequence, I do find myself adjusting the black and white sliders, then going back and tweaking the highlight and shadow controls and just have not gotten my head around increasing highlight clipping when adjusting the shadow control - just seems and unatural act .

                                         

                                        MK

                                        • 18. Re: Shadows and Highlights
                                          Gary.Voth Community Member

                                          Noel: thanks for sharing your experience.  I may just need more time with it, but I find the new paradigm where "all controls start at 0" to be less intuitive because they do not map to the histogram visually (specifically Blacks and Whites--I have no idea why control over this was made so indirect).

                                           

                                          I also find the behavior of some controls to be less predictable. Probably because most controls are now scene-adaptive and their effects can vary based on the image. 

                                           

                                          I had grown used to how the Exposure slider worked, which seemed to be modeled after exposure in-camera, and thus was very predictable.  I often used Exposure to reduce highlight clipping prior to using Recovery (just like you would on film), which worked better than Recovery alone.

                                           

                                          The new Exposure slider seems to be a blend of Exposure + Brightness, which is not the same thing as what happens in camera, meaning I have to abandon some of my prior techniques.

                                           

                                          While I recognize that breaking free of a control scheme that maps to the in-camera exposure paradigm might provide some additional flexibility, its not intuitive in the same way, at least first.

                                           

                                          It would be nice if there was an option to revert to the old control scheme while preserving the benefits of the new processing algorithms...

                                          • 19. Re: Shadows and Highlights
                                            areohbee Community Member

                                            garyvoth,

                                             

                                            I feel ya. I also found it very difficult and time consuming to adapt to the new controls. The image-adaptive behavior makes them kinda squirrelly, and behavior is sometimes not intuitive, to say the least. However I am now well over the hump, and can usually adjust images faster in PV2012 than I could in PV2010.

                                             

                                            Summary:

                                            --------------

                                            I adore PV2012 because I can usually get great results quickly. But for me, the learning curve was not only steep, but long...

                                             

                                            Give it time, and you will probably come to love it too.

                                             

                                            Cheers,

                                            Rob

                                            • 20. Re: Shadows and Highlights
                                              Jeff Schewe Community Member

                                              Actually, with the exception of a slight rolloff in the extreme highlights, Exposure in PV 2012 is still pretty much a 1:1 camera exposure match...but the rolloff really only shows itself as a dampening of clipping at extreme highlights so it doesn't really interfere with exposure increase/decrease.

                                               

                                               

                                              garyvoth wrote:

                                               

                                              It would be nice if there was an option to revert to the old control scheme while preserving the benefits of the new processing algorithms...

                                               

                                              And that is impossible...PV 2012 is a line in the sand–which is why they created the concept of process versions. In order to do the new stuff, they had to start from scratch. There is no way to mix and match PV algorithms...

                                              • 21. Re: Shadows and Highlights
                                                PECourtejoie ACP

                                                Yes, Eric, I think that many users would be grateful if you found some time to gather useful information in a blog post/white paper.

                                                It might save you time in the long run!