Before we get into this latest article, I’d like to thank one of our readers (Kevin L) for a recent comment that was the creative spark for this new posting. This article features an image captured handheld at the Nelles Manor in Grimsby and discusses working with high contrast interior architectural images in post.
In my reply to Kevin’s comment I mentioned that I used the Spot Weighted DxO Smart Lighting adjustment on the images that were featured in my article Character at MacNab Terrace Guest House.
This article shows some examples of the potential impact of that particular adjustment and outlines a few additional things that photographers can consider when working with high contrast interior architectural images. First let’s have a look at a jpeg made from the original RAW file.
NOTE: Click on images to enlarge.
We can see that almost all of the window pane details have been blown out of this photograph due to the very bright sunlight streaming through the window. This has also caused the details in the light hanging from the ceiling to be blown out as well.
In the next three images I applied varying amounts of Spot Weighted DxO Smart Lighting to the image. This was done by drawing a box around the window and using some of the preset adjustment levels. The next image had a ‘slight’ amount of Spot Weighted DxO Smart Lighting adjustment applied.
You can see a very small improvement to the window pane detail as well as more shadow details starting to emerge. Now, let’s observe what a medium level of spot weighted adjustment does to the image.
Another incremental improvement in the window pane detail as well as shadow areas. Let’s push this further with a strong level of Spot Weighted DxO Smart Lighting adjustment.
We can see additional details are beginning to firm up in the image. Now let’s see what taking Highlights and Midtones to -20, Shadows to +10 and Black to -5 in DxO PhotoLab does to the ‘strong’ version of the image.
We can see more incremental improvement throughout the image. I don’t typically do much more than -/+ 20 with DxO PhotoLab Selective Tone adjustments. Other folks may feel comfortable doing more than that, but I prefer exporting a DNG file into CS6.
Let’s see what happens to the image when we take Highlights to -100, Shadows to +35, White to +10 and Black to -35 in CS6.
The small 1″ CX sensor in my Nikon 1 J5 was quite challenged by the high contrast lighting in this photograph. This was exacerbated by shooting at ISO-1600 in order to get a usable handheld shutter speed of 1/13th of a second. Given the very bright sunlight coming through the window and the dark shade inside Nelles Manor, there just wasn’t much left beyond the window panes to recover. It was my judgement that the best I could likely do was to dig out as many of the window panes’ highlight details and coax more out of the shadow areas.
The last tweaks I made to the image were with the Nik Collection, making some small adjustments to contrast and structure in Viveza 2. Here is the final image…
While the window still has quite a bit of blown out highlights, to my eye they don’t overly distract from the overall feeling of the photograph.
By clicking on the images you can enlarge them and view successive versions of the photograph.
As regular readers will know, I don’t typically spend more than about 3 minutes on a image, including computer processing time. This was also the case with this image.
I have found that the Spot Weighted DxO Smart Lighting adjustment is quite helpful and I now use it on all of my images. I find that it does a very nice job helping to balance the dynamic range in my photographs and allows me to ‘dig’ a bit more. This simple adjustment saves me quite a bit of time in post.
The photograph in this article were captured handheld in available light using Nikon 1 gear as noted in the EXIF data. All images were produced from RAW files using my standard process of DxO PhotoLab, CS6 and the Nik Collection.
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