1 2 3 Previous Next 83 Replies Latest reply on Nov 11, 2016 4:37 PM by Paul_B_GB

    Positive Highlights: Does anybody use them?

    Paul_B_GB

      It suddenly occurred to me that in my Lightroom editing I've only ever used negative highlights for detail recovery. It got me wondering if anybody ever uses positive highlights?

        • 1. Re: Positive Highlights: Does anybody use them?
          Just Shoot Me Adobe Community Professional

          I have but only on some images I took with the camera unexpectedly dialed back to -2 exposure compensation. Boosting the exposure didn't help that much and introduced a lot of noise. I eventually converted the images to B&W.

          • 2. Re: Positive Highlights: Does anybody use them?
            Paul_B_GB Level 1

            Interesting. I wonder if most people don't use them then?

            • 3. Re: Positive Highlights: Does anybody use them?
              Jao vdL Adobe Community Professional & MVP

              Yeah I do but rarely. Generally I end up with negative highlights and positive whites. Some images can use some boosting of midrange contrast and then positive highlights can work Sometimes.

              • 5. Re: Positive Highlights: Does anybody use them?
                Paul_B_GB Level 1

                I'm thinking that maybe positive highlights could be used if using a flat profile like camera neutral?

                • 6. Re: Positive Highlights: Does anybody use them?
                  D Fosse Adobe Community Professional & MVP

                  I make it a point to try it occasionally, just to break the routine. But it usually doesn't work and ends up going down.

                   

                  These things are all very useful when shooting non-standard contrast ranges, like for instance when copying transparency film or negatives. But in real life, I very rarely find a need to drastically alter the tone response curve. It's mostly about nailing the endpoints to make it "snap".

                  • 7. Re: Positive Highlights: Does anybody use them?
                    99jon Adobe Community Professional & MVP

                    Yes on a selective basis e.g. with the brush tool where perhaps the radial filter is not applicable.

                    • 9. Re: Positive Highlights: Does anybody use them?
                      Paul_B_GB Level 1

                      I was hoping for a lot of replies.

                      • 10. Re: Positive Highlights: Does anybody use them?
                        Just Shoot Me Adobe Community Professional

                        Paul_B_GB wrote:

                         

                        I was hoping for a lot of replies.

                        I don't see why you would think that. This is a User to User Help forum not a social forum. The majority of people that come to this site are looking for help with an Adobe product, and then you have people like me that try to help. Once someone finds the answer to there problem they never come back until the next problem pops up.

                         

                        You might want to try some other Photo, photographer, socializing forum and post that question there.

                        • 11. Re: Positive Highlights: Does anybody use them?
                          Paul_B_GB Level 1

                          Fair enough, that makes sense. Thanks

                          • 12. Re: Positive Highlights: Does anybody use them?
                            ManiacJoe Adobe Community Professional

                            I would say that for 95% of my photos, the highlights get a negative adjustment.

                             

                            Based on my poor memory, of the few that might get a positive adjustment, they are either:

                            landscapes maybe, or

                            shot in bad-low lighting circumstances where normal-low lighting edits don't get the job done

                            • 13. Re: Positive Highlights: Does anybody use them?
                              Paul_B_GB Level 1

                              Ty ManiacJoe.

                               

                              I'm still left wondering whether positive highlights might look quite nice on a camera neutral profile (selected in Lightroom not camera)

                              • 14. Re: Positive Highlights: Does anybody use them?
                                D Fosse Adobe Community Professional & MVP

                                I think this has more to do with the individual image, than any specific camera profile.

                                • 15. Re: Positive Highlights: Does anybody use them?
                                  Paul_B_GB Level 1

                                  What I've noticed is that if you switch camera profiles in Lightroom from Camera Std to Camera Neutral, the neutral profile looks a lot flatter, and if you increase the Highlights then they look a bit more like each other.

                                  • 16. Re: Positive Highlights: Does anybody use them?
                                    trshaner Adobe Community Professional & MVP

                                    "Six of one, half dozen of the other." The Camera Neutral profile has lower contrast and saturation than Camera Standard. Using + Highlights and -Shadows with the Camera Neutral profile will raise the image contrast and make it look similar to Camera Standard. The PV2012 Highlight and Shadow controls are image adaptive and work best when set to equal and opposite settings such as -50 and +50. This may be helpful: Re: camera calibration profiles: standard vs neutral

                                    1 person found this helpful
                                    • 17. Re: Positive Highlights: Does anybody use them?
                                      Paul_B_GB Level 1

                                      Trshaner, thanks for the information. Very interesting.

                                       

                                      One question: Why in PV2012 do the Highlight and Shadow controls work best when set to equal and opposite settings such as -50 and +50?

                                       

                                      A lot of my edits have shadows left alone but using -highlights.

                                      • 18. Re: Positive Highlights: Does anybody use them?
                                        ManiacJoe Adobe Community Professional

                                        I am not sure that the camera profile would matter.

                                        I have my Nikon cameras set to "neutral" picture control.

                                        In Lightroom, my import process applies the "camera neutral" profile so that the LR view looks like the camera's LCD image.

                                        From there I adjust the image as needed.

                                        • 19. Re: Positive Highlights: Does anybody use them?
                                          ManiacJoe Adobe Community Professional

                                          Moving those two sliders in opposite directions increases the contrast of the image. Most images look better with increased contrast.

                                           

                                          In your case, if you are not moving the shadows slider, then you like the current shadows setting. This might suggest you are underexposing your images, but we would need so see some examples before we can make that diagnosis.

                                          • 20. Re: Positive Highlights: Does anybody use them?
                                            trshaner Adobe Community Professional & MVP

                                            Paul_B_GB wrote:

                                             

                                            One question: Why in PV2012 do the Highlight and Shadow controls work best when set to equal and opposite settings such as -50 and +50?

                                             

                                            A lot of my edits have shadows left alone but using -highlights.

                                            The Highlights and Shadows controls are "dynamic" in the way they correct the image tone curve. I've only run across a few images that benefit from using "unbalanced" Highlights and Shadows control settings. An image shot on a foggy day has no deep shadow areas, but may have bright sky highlights that look better with only -Highlights applied. Even here I would use the Dehaze control along with balanced -Highlight = +Shadows settings. What you may find is that after applying -Highlights to reveal highlight detail that an equal +Shadows setting makes the image midtones appears too bright. No problem, simply lower the Exposure a bit and it should look terrific. Again, the PV2012 Tone controls are "image adaptive" and have a high-degree of interaction–Don't try to fight it!

                                             

                                            Adobe obviously thinks so as well. Try using the Auto Tone button on a number of different image files. It always sets -Highlight = +Shadows.

                                            • 21. Re: Positive Highlights: Does anybody use them?
                                              Paul_B_GB Level 1

                                              Thanks for the information, I'm going to have a play and learn.

                                               

                                              The way I was thinking (before learning in this topic/thread) was this:

                                               

                                              Overall Image Contrast = the difference between the high and low tones in the image. Therefore if you reduce the highlights you're also reducing contrast. Also, if you increase shadows you are also decreasing contrast. So, if you reduce highlights and increase shadows you are decreasing overall image contrast 2 fold.

                                               

                                              Obviously I had it wrong then, eek.

                                              • 22. Re: Positive Highlights: Does anybody use them?
                                                Jao vdL Adobe Community Professional & MVP

                                                You need to realize that the highlights and shadows tools are HDR tools based on image processing research from MIT. They work on a local basis based on a dynamic image mask. This is very different from manipulating a tone curve where you would be absolutely right that increasing the shadow tones and decreasing highlight tones would resolution in a loss of contrast as tone-curve controls work globally on the image. This is not true for the tools in the basic panel of Develop. In fact, you can end up with increased apparent contrast by doing +shadows -highlights.

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                                                • 23. Re: Positive Highlights: Does anybody use them?
                                                  Paul_B_GB Level 1

                                                  Jao. That's extremely helpful, and well worth knowing. Thanks

                                                  • 24. Re: Positive Highlights: Does anybody use them?
                                                    trshaner Adobe Community Professional & MVP

                                                    Paul_B_GB wrote:

                                                     

                                                    So, if you reduce highlights and increase shadows you are decreasing overall image contrast 2 fold.

                                                     

                                                    Obviously I had it wrong then, eek.

                                                    You need to look at the image areas that each of the Tone controls works on. You can use the maximum -100 Highlights and +100 Shadows and still have the same "overall" image contrast by readjusting the Whites and Blacks controls to their clipping points.

                                                     

                                                    To see what image data each Tone control affects hover and move your mouse pointer over the Histogram. The area will appear in light gray along with the name of the control and current setting. As mentioned there is some interaction between the controls, but they should be used specifically to control their target areas. This is explained in detail at the PV2012 Tone Control tutorial link I provided. As mentioned using -Highlights and +Shadows actually increases midtone contrast. It also makes the image look sharper by increasing the contrast in edge gradients (i.e. micro-contrast). It's complicated!

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                                                    • 25. Re: Positive Highlights: Does anybody use them?
                                                      Paul_B_GB Level 1

                                                      I've just been having a play for the last hour or so. I don't think there's a general rule that fits all images. I'd say half the images I tested on looked much better using matching -highlights & +shadows and the other half looked worse i.e a bit artificial looking.

                                                      • 26. Re: Positive Highlights: Does anybody use them?
                                                        Paul_B_GB Level 1

                                                        ....Ps, Out of interest, what percentage of your photos do you use -50 highlights & +50 shadows (or similar) on?

                                                        • 27. Re: Positive Highlights: Does anybody use them?
                                                          trshaner Adobe Community Professional & MVP

                                                          Almost all of my image files get some degree of -Highlights = +Shadows. The exceptions are images that are low-contrast with no bright highlights or dark shadow areas. The only reason for applying -Highlights and +Shadows is to reveal more detail in those specific areas (bright highlights and/or dark shadow areas). It also depends on the Camera profile and the overall quality of the lens being used. With a lower contrast camera profile like Camera Neutral or Faithful you'll need less -Highlights and +Shadows or maybe none. A  lens with flare issues or low micro-contrast will also require less -Highlights and +Shadows. And in the final analysis it also depends on your preferences and the "look" you are trying achieve with a specific image file. Examples would be high key-light studio photography and B&W film emulation.

                                                           

                                                          If you follow the top-down adjustment procedure as I outlined here Re: camera calibration profiles: standard vs neutral  it should help. You may find with some images don't need any -Highlights, but they do need +Shadows to "open up" shadow detail that you want to reveal. With almost every image you should jump back to the Highlights slider and set it to an equal - setting. The other thing we haven't mentioned is that it is important you use a monitor calibrator to insure it is adjusted for Luminance 100-120 cd/m2, 2.2 Gamma, and 6500K Color Temperature. Lacking that "finite" adjustment of the LR Develop module settings are kinda meaningless.

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                                                          • 28. Re: Positive Highlights: Does anybody use them?
                                                            Paul_B_GB Level 1

                                                            Which camera calibration profile do you usually use in Lightroom?

                                                            • 29. Re: Positive Highlights: Does anybody use them?
                                                              trshaner Adobe Community Professional & MVP

                                                              I use ColorChecker Passport created dual-illuminant (5500K Daylight & 2800K Tugsten) camera profiles with all my Canon DSLRs. The Adobe Standard camera profile is very similar, but the CCPP profiles provide more accurate color rendering.

                                                              • 30. Re: Positive Highlights: Does anybody use them?
                                                                Paul_B_GB Level 1

                                                                Ok.

                                                                 

                                                                Well I've made 5 presets -10 +10, -20 +20, -30 +30, -40 +40, -50 +50 for highlights and shadows.

                                                                 

                                                                The only problem with learning new stuff on here is that I keep having to go back and redo all my family photos each time (all 400 of them)! Thank goodness for non destructive editing, lol.

                                                                 

                                                                Thank you to all that have given me very valuable advice.

                                                                • 31. Re: Positive Highlights: Does anybody use them?
                                                                  Paul_B_GB Level 1

                                                                  I assume the matching -highlights & +shadows method also applies to JPEG's?

                                                                  • 32. Re: Positive Highlights: Does anybody use them?
                                                                    trshaner Adobe Community Professional & MVP

                                                                    Paul_B_GB wrote:

                                                                     

                                                                    Well I've made 5 presets -10 +10, -20 +20, -30 +30, -40 +40, -50 +50 for highlights and shadows.

                                                                    A 10 unit increment is barely visible and there's no reason to limit the maximum setting to 50. Try presets with a 20 unit step: 20, 40, 60, 80 ,100. Dependent on shooting ISO and camera noise performance as you use higher settings shadow noise and highlight artifacts can become more pronounced. This may require adding Luminance NR and adjusting the Sharpening settings. Using +100 and -100 settings can produce similar results as a 'Merge to HDR' with exposure bracketed files. It works very well with high contrast subjects as long as the raw image file does not have excessively clipped highlights. Here's an example with -100 Highlights and + 100 Shadows applied.

                                                                     

                                                                    (Click on image to see full-size)

                                                                    PV2012 Highlight and Shadow Recovery Example.jpg

                                                                    • 33. Re: Positive Highlights: Does anybody use them?
                                                                      trshaner Adobe Community Professional & MVP

                                                                      Paul_B_GB wrote:

                                                                       

                                                                      I assume the matching -highlights & +shadows method also applies to JPEG's?

                                                                      Yes that is correct.

                                                                      • 34. Re: Positive Highlights: Does anybody use them?
                                                                        Paul_B_GB Level 1

                                                                        Wow, what a difference between the 2 pictures! I'll adjust my presets. I'm making quite a nice tutorial for myself from your advice (maybe you should write a book?)

                                                                         

                                                                        Ok, as i don't have a colour checker passport profile, what profile would you recommend using with this new matching -highlights +shadows method? I have a choice of Adobe Std, Camera Std or Camera Neutral. I'm aware that profiles like Camera Std already have some kind of highlights & shadows adjustment applied in its default Raw curve.

                                                                        • 35. Re: Positive Highlights: Does anybody use them?
                                                                          trshaner Adobe Community Professional & MVP

                                                                          Paul_B_GB wrote:

                                                                          Ok, as i don't have a colour checker passport profile, what profile would you recommend using with this new matching -highlights +shadows method? I have a choice of Adobe Std, Camera Std or Camera Neutral.

                                                                          With my Canon DSLRs Adobe Standard is the most accurate. The Camera Standard profile has slightly higher color saturation and the Camera Neutral slightly lower color saturation. The only profile I've found useful with my Canon DSLRs is Camera Faithful, which has a lower contrast Tone Curve and Color Saturation. I use it with flowers to help reveal subtle hues and color gradations.

                                                                           

                                                                          Paul_B_GB wrote:

                                                                          I'm aware that profiles like Camera Std already have some kind of highlights & shadows adjustment applied in its default Raw curve.

                                                                          That is incorrect. All of the camera profiles should behave the same to the Tone controls. Depending on your camera model one or more of the "Camera" profiles may have a slightly different Tone Curve than Adobe Standard. This will make the highlight and shadow areas appear different, but this is strictly due to the profile's tone curve. Use the profile that provide the best "starting point" with all Tone controls at 0. Certain subject types may look better with a different profile.

                                                                          • 36. Re: Positive Highlights: Does anybody use them?
                                                                            Paul_B_GB Level 1

                                                                            Sorry, that's kind of what i meant, i just didn't explain it very well. Yes, the different camera calibration profiles in Lightroom seem to have slightly different 'tone curves' that seem to effect the shadows and highlight areas a bit differently to the others. That's what made me wonder what the best starting profile would be if you are going to adjust those areas yourself.

                                                                            • 37. Re: Positive Highlights: Does anybody use them?
                                                                              Paul_B_GB Level 1

                                                                              Trshaner

                                                                               

                                                                              You know you said earlier: "The PV2012 Highlight and Shadow controls are image adaptive and work best when set to equal and opposite settings such as -50 and +50".

                                                                               

                                                                              I was wondering where you heard about that, or where I can learn more about that technique. I'm asking because I offered that advice to somebody else, without really being able to tell them why it works.

                                                                               

                                                                              Thanks.

                                                                              • 38. Re: Positive Highlights: Does anybody use them?
                                                                                trshaner Adobe Community Professional & MVP

                                                                                What works best is to set -Highlights = +Shadows. Whether you use -50 and +50 or some other value is dependent on the specific image, lighting conditions, camera, lens, and individual preference. Very high dynamic range images with deep shadows and bright highlights may require higher than 50 settings (-60, +60 up to -100, +100) to "reveal" detail in those areas. Subjects with no deep shadows or bright highlights (i.e. overcast lighting or fog) may require lower values (-40, +40 to 0, 0) to maintain contrast. In fact these are the types of images that may require using +Contrast, +Clarity, or +Dehaze. However, after applying those controls the image may benefit further using a small amount of -Highlights and +Shadows. Again, this is due to "image adaptive" behavior of the Tone controls that causes them to "interact" with each other.

                                                                                 

                                                                                Suggestion create six Develop presets that apply only Highlights and Shadows with these values and names:

                                                                                 

                                                                                -0 Highlights, +0 Shadows

                                                                                -20 Highlights, +20 Shadows

                                                                                -40 Highlights, +40 Shadows

                                                                                -60 Highlights, +60 Shadows

                                                                                -80 Highlights, +80 Shadows

                                                                                -100 Highlights, +100 Shadows

                                                                                 

                                                                                This allows very quick review of the image using higher or lower settings. The 20 step value is pretty subtle. You'll need to readjust Whites and Blacks controls after making large changes (40 or more step) to these settings. Again, this is due to "image adaptive" behavior of the Tone controls that causes them to "interact" with each other.

                                                                                • 39. Re: Positive Highlights: Does anybody use them?
                                                                                  Paul_B_GB Level 1

                                                                                  Hi Trshaner

                                                                                   

                                                                                  Thanks for the reply.

                                                                                   

                                                                                  Yes, I've already learnt all that from you and I'm in the middle of applying the principle to all my images.

                                                                                   

                                                                                  I offered your advice to somebody else and they asked me the theory behind it and why it works, but i couldn't give an answer. That's why i was wondering if there is any documentation anywhere on the web that explains the procedure and why it works and should be used, i.e any websites etc.

                                                                                   

                                                                                  Ps. i bought a new DSLR camera, a Canon 750d. I actually hate the colours it gives when using Camera Standard or Portrait (both from the camera Jpegs and in Lightroom Raw). The colours seem too saturated in the reds & oranges. I've opted to use camera neutral instead. However, the surprising thing is that in using camera neutral there is actually quite a lot of detail in the shadows already and they don't need lifting anywhere near as much as when using the other profiles. I've also noticed on portraits that a little bit of tone curve positive highlights adds to the images too. I think Adobe Standard is a waste of time with this camera, because by the time you set your blacks and whites clipping points the images clearly still need a lot of positive contrast to get rid of that misty look, and by the time you've achieved that the images look terrible with all that contrast adjustment.

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