November 28, 2021  •  Leave a Comment

Some photographers over edit their images. Most amateurs only make global adjustments. Today we are going to look at a raw file and the finished product. Here we go with the raw file:

Please note that we have already roughly set the black point and white point of this image in Adobe Camera Raw (Raw developer software). Here is what I want you to notice about this image, the cliff face on the far left is brighter than the center of the image. The viewer's eyes will always be pulled to this brighter part. The cliff face at the center of the image is darkish compared to the rest of the image. The viewer's eyes will not naturally want to spend much time there. This can typically not be fixed with global adjustments. Now let's look at the finished file:

The lighter part of the far left cliff face has been darkened down. The center of the image has been lightened. Quickly alternate looking at the raw file then the finished file a few times. You should notice that the raw files has you looking at the edges of the image while the finished file has your view pulled into the center. So how do we edit an image to darken one part while lightening another part?

          Once I have completed my global adjustments I go back into the raw developer (Adobe Camera Raw). I select the brush tool. Now simply set your exposure lower, pull back your highlights and set your shadows a bit darker. Paint over the left part of the bright cliff face. Also paint over the right side. Now create a new brush with the exposure and shadows up. Also add some contrast. When you increase exposure it comes at the cost of contrast, so we need to restore that loss by adding more contrast. Paint over the center parts. This is the secret source that directs the viewer to where you want them to look. All we are doing is changing the exposure and dodging and burning the highlights and shadows. This is exactly what would have happened in a darkroom in the age of film. No funny stuff. Even the purist should approve. Lastly, set your black point and white point again because those values have changed with your adjustments.

          What do you think?


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