Tag: Shadow recovery

Shadow recovery is a very useful technique for backlit photos or images shot in high contrast lighting. Digital cameras are not very tolerant of overexposure, so it’s often necessary to expose for the brightest parts of the scene and then enhance the shadows in post processing.

This is another reason for shooting RAW files rather than JPEGs. RAW files typically have a lot more latent shadow detail that you can bring out with careful processing. This can reveal more noise in these darker areas, but this varies from one camera to another – and you can process this out to some degree with some selective noise reduction.

So how much shadow detail can you recover? Generally, the bigger the sensor, the better the dynamic range, but it’s typically a lot more than you might expect – perhaps as much as 3-4EV in exposure terms.

The real challenge is to keep the image and the lighting looking ‘natural’. It’s all too easy to end up with a pseudo-HDR effect or compressed midtone contrast that makes the whole image look ‘flat’.



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Life after Photoshop is dedicated to the wider world of image-editing beyond Photoshop and its technical, image-by-image approach. Here you’ll find tips, tutorials, reviews and ideas for everything from mobile photography to asset management, from one-click effects to professional workflows. Rod Lawton

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