Nature Notes

May 15, 2008

Photoshop Tutorial-Recovering blown highlights

Filed under: Photoshop Tutorial,Processing Tips — Tags: , — Harold Stiver @ 2:10 pm

This Photoshop technique allows you to add highlight information to your image. It is useful for images such as landscapes where portions of the sky have blown. Note you need an image which was shot in RAW to use this technique.

In our example, the portion of sky in front of the storm has some rose portions and then some blue sky, which can be seen when the exposure is reduced. We want a properly exposed image which incorporates this information.

1. Do an initial RAW conversion of your file allowing the highlights to remain blown but with the balance of the image in the right exposure. We’ll call this the light image.

Before image (Photoshop Tutorial)
Image 1

2. Do another RAW conversion of your file with the exposure moved down allowing the highlights to show but underexposing the balance. We’ll call this the dark image.

I image (Photoshop Tutorial)
Image 2

3. Copy the dark image as a layer to the light image ( on the dark imageā€¦ Ctrl A [Select all], Ctrl C [Copy], and on the light image Ctrl V [Paste]).

I image (Photoshop Tutorial)
Image 3

4. Add a layer mask to the dark layer. Alt click the thumbnail of the layer mask and paste [Ctrl V] the dark image into the mask.

I image (Photoshop Tutorial)I image (Photoshop Tutorial)
Image 4 and Image 5

5. Alt click the layer mask again and click on the layer’s thumbnail. At this point you will probably need to add some contrast. Flatten the layers, and add contrast (perhaps 10%)

I image (Photoshop Tutorial)
Image 6

At this point, you can apply your usual workflow (Remove dust, color correct, etc.)

Index to Photoshop Tutorials.

This tutorial is a part of the Photoshop Workflow Series

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  1. photography tutorial…

    I love posting comments to websites like yours; this is one that I’ll bookmark for future visits. I’ll be looking for some creative future content, and I’ll pass you along to friends and others!…

    Trackback by photography tutorial — June 21, 2008 @ 6:36 am

  2. Thank you for the kind words. I hope I hear from you again.

    Cheers, Harold

    Comment by admin — June 21, 2008 @ 3:50 pm

  3. Works perfectly. The illustrated steps make it a breeze to follow.

    Thanks it rescued a couple of photos.

    Comment by Geoff — January 18, 2009 @ 12:25 am

  4. Great, Geoff, and thanks for letting me know.

    Cheers, Harold

    Comment by Harold — January 19, 2009 @ 1:23 pm

  5. […] Recovering Blown Highlights […]

    Pingback by 15 causes of poor images and how to fix them | Nature Notes — September 5, 2010 @ 5:25 pm

  6. this is wicked. thanks.

    Comment by toby — February 19, 2012 @ 7:05 pm

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