Power of Post: High Contrast Situation

Posted by CWade in Power of Post | Tagged | Leave a comment
Cooper, napping (after post-production in Lightroom 3)
It’s been quite some time since the last installment of M45‘s “Power of Post” series. So, here’s a new entry for you folks that love seeing the before and after comparisons [as much as I do].
This photo (of Cooper the German Shorthaired Pointer) is a great example of a high-contrast lighting situation which is not quite a silhouette.
You can see in the original photo below that there isn’t a lot of data left in the blacks- mostly in Coop’s curled body. Additionally, the highlights on his face look maxed-out (although not blown out according to Lightroom’s brain). When taking this shot, I used the natural light coming in through the windows, and metered for the bright area on his forehead. I knew the rest of the frame would be quite dark as a result.
I would argue that this photo is not a silhouette because the most important part of the subject (Cooper’s face) is illuminated:
Cooper, napping (before post-production in Lightroom 3)
So, what did I do in post, to refine this photo a bit?
Side-by-side comparison (click for bigger)
Basic Edits:
  • Recovered highlights [Recovery Slider] completely, so that-

I could:

  • Increase overall exposure slightly [Exposure Slider] without blowing the highlights, &-
  • Lift the brights [Brightness Slider] without blowing the highlights.


  • Corrected white balance [Temp & Tint Sliders]. Overall, WB was slightly too green, probably a result of the tennis ball being in the frame.
  • Increased overall contrast slightly [Contrast slider].
  • Created a custom Tone Curve [Tone Curve Module], bringing the darks-not shadows!-up considerably.
  • Healed/Cloned distracting glare spot out of background [Spot Removal Dialogue].
  • Applied minimal noise reduction and slight sharpening [Sliders in Detail Module].
Below, on the right, you can see the image’s final histogram, basic tone, and curves settings in Lightroom 3′s ‘Develop’ module:
(click for bigger)
The finished photo isn’t too drastically different from the original, out-of-camera photo, but is improved so that the subject draws the viewer in more readily with fewer distractions (hopefully).

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