13 Replies Latest reply on Jan 15, 2015 2:03 PM by trshaner

    Shadow and highlight clipping

    Modesto Vega Level 1

      Over the past few weeks I have noticed something with correcting shadow and highlight clipping in LR 5.7 and 5.7.1 I was not aware of and would like some opinions.

       

      In one sentence, it appears that there is highlight clipping both in the White and Highlight portion of the histogram and shadow clipping in the Shadows and Blacks portion of the histogram. Up until recently I had assumed that if I wanted to globally recover highlights, I had to bring the Whites down. However, I have now seem quite a few photos, taken with different cameras (all Nikon), where the highlight clipping warning only went away after reducing the Highlights by -5.

        • 1. Re: Shadow and highlight clipping
          thedigitaldog MVP & Adobe Community Professional

          There is nothing wrong pre se with clipping in either area of the tone curve if you like the rendering. Highlight clipping would be my biggest concern if you clip highlight data you wish to retain. Clipping shadows is fine and many photographers do this as part of the look they desire in rendering the image (look at the work of say Greg Gorman). Anyway, if you do see highlight clipping, it appears you've fixed the issue with the -5 adjustment, and in fact, doing so proves you didn't over expose the data as you could pull that data (which exists) back in line. Maybe you want to update your default settings to -5 so in the future, this is done for you automatically. In LR's Develop module, set the slider to -5, hold down the Option key and you'll see "Reset" toggle to "Set Default" and from now on, you'll have that -5 setting.

          • 2. Re: Shadow and highlight clipping
            trshaner Adobe Community Professional & MVP

            What you are seeing is perfectly normal for images with moderate to high dynamic range. The LR PV2012 Tone controls should be adjusted using a top-down workflow. Here's what I have found that works well:

             

            PV2012 Basic Panel Tone Control Adjustment Procedure

             

            Start with all of the Tone controls at their default 0 settings and adjust them from the top-down in the order shown below.

             

            1. Set Exposure to correct midtone brightness ignoring the highlight and shadow areas for now. Setting Exposure slightly higher (+.25 to +.50 EV) than what looks correct for the midtones seems to work best with most images.

             

            2. Leave Contrast at 0 for now. It’s usually better to adjust this after the first pass.

             

            3. Adjust Highlights so that blown out areas are recovered and “fine tonal detail” is revealed.

             

            4. Adjust Shadows to reveal fine detail in dark areas. For most normal images simply setting +Shadows = -Highlights (Example +50 and -50) works very well.

             

            5. The Whites control sets the white clipping point, which you can see by holding down the ALT key as you move the slider. Adjust it to the point where you see clipping appear with the ALT key.

             

            6. The Blacks control sets the black clipping point, which you can see by holding down the ALT key as you move the slider. Adjust it to the point where you see clipping appear with the ALT key.

             

            7. Now go back and adjust the Contrast control to establish the best midtone contrast.

             

            8. Lastly touch-up the Exposure control for the best midtone brightness.

             

            9. If necessary “touch-up” the controls using the same top-down workflow.

            • 3. Re: Shadow and highlight clipping
              areohbee Level 5

              Contrary to intuition, highlights slider is more adept at reducing white clipping than the whites slider is.

               

              PS - in my opinion, clipping is good if not too much (most of my full-dynamic-range shots have at least a little clipping at both ends - sometimes a lot..).

               

              If you follow trshaner's procedure, you'll probably have good results for most relatively normal photos for which you want relatively normal processing - note:

               

              * One usually brings whites setting from 0 to a positive number to get enough white clipping. If too much white clipping with whites at 0, then use highlights slider (negative values) to reduce clipping. You can also use -whites, but it tends to flatten the image, granted you can boost contrast to compensate.

               

              Another tip to go with trshaner's procedure: if blacks are not in the ball-park, adjust them first, even if only roughly. there is essentially no way to tell what exposure should be set to if blacks are not in the ball park, so save yourself some time..

               

              Note: whites slider is about way more than just fine-tuning clip point, it's also critical to enhancing highlight detail without sacrificing dynamic range.

               

              Problem: highlights "jammed up" (overly compressed) due to excessive exposure.

              Solution: -exposure +whites -highlights +shadows.

               

              PS - learn from Lr's auto-toner. It's not perfect (e.g. it often over-exposes), but the coder who wrote it understands PV2012, and it's generally fairly good at setting whites slider, which is one of the trickiest sliders to set optimally, in my opinion.

               

              Sorry if this was too much..

              Rob

              • 4. Re: Shadow and highlight clipping
                Modesto Vega Level 1

                trshaner - thanks very, very useful; I would adjust workflow accordingly. Rob Cole -  it was not too much, I do like LR but its becoming clear I can get more out of it. @Andrew Rodney - thanks for reminding me that clipping is not wrong.

                 

                What threw me off (and still throws me off), is that I am seeing clipping warnings with very small or no areas highlighted in Red or Blue (and the warnings active in the histogram). In fact I have seen clipping warnings on the histogram with no areas highlighted at all, only if I click the ALT key while adjusting Highlights, Shadows, Blacks and Whites I see areas highlighted. 

                • 5. Re: Shadow and highlight clipping
                  trshaner Adobe Community Professional & MVP

                  LR and ACR PV2012 Tone control's 0 default state still affect the clipping points in the image because they are "image adaptive." See the response here from Adobe's MadManChan:

                   

                  Develop basic sliders - truly zeroed?

                   

                  Highlight and Shadow clipping is fully recoverable using these named PV2012 controls as long as the raw file data is not clipped. What's important to understand is that the Exposure and Contrast controls work primarily on the midtones in the image and to a lesser degree on the Highlights and Shadows. Because of the image adaptive "tuning" these controls interact with each other, which is why it is suggested to use a top-down adjustment workflow (starting with Exposure).

                   

                  To see how much PV2012 default 0 settings ( and the selected camera profile) have on your raw image files clipping point download the free trial of RawDigger: Download RawDigger | RawDigger

                   

                  Images that show raw file highlight clipping (i.e. over-exposed) inside RawDigger will NOT be fully recoverable inside LR in those areas. The actual Highlight clipping in the raw image files is much less than what you see in LR with default settings. This is because the camera profile applies a tone curve and other settings to convert the raw data to a usable image.

                   

                  Some raw data highlight clipping is unavoidable and not necessarily a bad thing (i.e. Sun or bright lights in the image). The PV2012 Highlights and Shadows controls can recover a large amount of "compressed" dynamic range to the point of creating the appearance of an HDR processed image. Whether or not that's what you want is up to you. In most cases it's best to leave some Highlight and Shadow areas clipped to keep the image toning more natural in appearance.

                  • 6. Re: Shadow and highlight clipping
                    thedigitaldog MVP & Adobe Community Professional

                    There is also saturation clipping indictors (colored)! Keep that in mind if you're not using ProPhoto RGB for encoding.

                    • 7. Re: Shadow and highlight clipping
                      Modesto Vega Level 1

                      What do you man with the following? I do shoot RAW and use ProPhoto RGB when using external editors

                      Andrew Rodney wrote:

                       

                      Keep that in mind if you're not using ProPhoto RGB for encoding.

                       

                      By the way the indicators are coloured in a couple of the photos that triggered this thread (blue on the shadow clipping indicator). The RawDigger does indicate some Shadow clipping on the Blue channel of one of the photos. I don't think it affects the photo, it might even enhance it, but it is not recoverable, nothing I have done to that photo recovered it.

                      • 8. Re: Shadow and highlight clipping
                        Modesto Vega Level 1

                        trshaner wrote:

                         

                        What's important to understand is that the Exposure and Contrast controls work primarily on the midtones in the image and to a lesser degree on the Highlights and Shadows.

                         

                        I must confess that the main difficulty I have with colour photography is that I find easier to understand the concept of mid-tones in black and white than in colour, mid grey is relatively straightforward. I have always had more problems getting why head around what mid-tones means in colour, I don't know if I would dare to ever use the term mid red. Certainly, this explains why I like black and white so much.

                        • 9. Re: Shadow and highlight clipping
                          thedigitaldog MVP & Adobe Community Professional

                          Modesto Vega wrote:

                           

                          What do you man with the following? I do shoot RAW and use ProPhoto RGB when using external editors

                          Andrew Rodney wrote:

                           

                          Keep that in mind if you're not using ProPhoto RGB for encoding.

                          You should see no saturation clipping in ProPhoto RGB unless perhaps you creak up Saturation or Vibrance to the point the image looks pretty awful. If however you soft proof using a smaller color space, you can see saturation clipping which indicates the data could fall within ProPhoto RGB gamut but not the gamut of the space you're soft proofing. IOW, it's rather easy to find raw images that clip saturation in Adobe RGB (1998) but not ProPhoto RGB.

                          • 10. Re: Shadow and highlight clipping
                            IdamIndia Level 1

                            Where does one see "saturation clipping indicator"? I mean how to activate this clipping view. J key toggles clipping. And that I see only as highlight and shadows (white black). LR has such a feature? (I use LR4)

                            • 11. Re: Shadow and highlight clipping
                              thedigitaldog MVP & Adobe Community Professional

                              Nikhil Varma wrote:

                               

                              Where does one see "saturation clipping indicator"? I mean how to activate this clipping view. J key toggles clipping. And that I see only as highlight and shadows (white black). LR has such a feature? (I use LR4)

                              http://digitaldog.net/files/SaturationClipping.jpg

                               

                              Seen in more detail here:

                              Everything you thought you wanted to know about Histograms

                               

                              Another exhaustive 40 minute video examining:

                               

                              What are histograms. In Photoshop, ACR, Lightroom.

                              Histograms: clipping color and tones, color spaces and color gamut.

                              Histogram and Photoshop’s Level’s command.

                              Histograms don’t tell us our images are good (examples).

                              Misconceptions about histograms. How they lie.

                              Histograms and Expose To The Right (ETTR).

                              Are histograms useful and if so, how?

                               

                              Low rez (YouTube): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EjPsP4HhHhE

                              High rez: http://digitaldog.net/files/Histogram_Video.mov

                              • 12. Re: Shadow and highlight clipping
                                trshaner Adobe Community Professional & MVP

                                Modesto Vega wrote:

                                 

                                trshaner wrote:

                                 

                                What's important to understand is that the Exposure and Contrast controls work primarily on the midtones in the image and to a lesser degree on the Highlights and Shadows.

                                 

                                I must confess that the main difficulty I have with colour photography is that I find easier to understand the concept of mid-tones in black and white than in colour, mid grey is relatively straightforward. I have always had more problems getting why head around what mid-tones means in colour, I don't know if I would dare to ever use the term mid red. Certainly, this explains why I like black and white so much.

                                You're over-complicating the definition of midtones. Let me reword it:

                                 

                                1. Set Exposure to correct the "overall image brightness" ignoring the highlight and shadow areas for now. Setting Exposure slightly higher (+.25 to +.50 EV) than what looks correct seems to work best with most images.


                                If you hover the mouse pointer in the central area of the Develop Histogram it will show the area effected by the Exposure control. Move the cursor into other areas and you will see that the Tone controls overlap slightly with each other. This should give you a better idea of how the Tone controls work on the image.


                                 

                                Andrew Rodney is talking about the Soft Proof clipping indicators, which refer to color gamut clipping. This is an equally important, but separate area of discussion: Soft Proofing.

                                • 13. Re: Shadow and highlight clipping
                                  trshaner Adobe Community Professional & MVP

                                  Nikhil Varma wrote:

                                   

                                  Where does one see "saturation clipping indicator"? I mean how to activate this clipping view. J key toggles clipping. And that I see only as highlight and shadows (white black). LR has such a feature? (I use LR4)

                                  My bad, I cross-posted with Andrew Rodney's reply post #11. He is referring to the standard Histogram clipping indicators not Soft Proofing mode. When only one or two channels are clipped the Histogram indicators will be in color as per Andrew's posted JPEG http://digitaldog.net/files/SaturationClipping.jpg

                                   

                                  Here's an image file showing Red & Green channel clipping (Yellow) in the shadows and Blue channel clipping in the highlights. This only appear over a very narrow range of Whites (+52 to +59) and Black (-25 to -28) control settings. Outside this range the indicators are White (All three channels clipped) or Black (No channels clipped).

                                  Historam Clipping - 1 and 2 Channels.jpg