Exercise 12: Managing Tone

This exercise focuses on the importance of the image processing. It also specifically asks to process both JPG/TIFF and RAW files. At the end of this exercise, we are presented with an option to make a comparison between the quality of the JPG and RAW files.

One of the requirements was to choose an image that actually needs some of the adjustments mentioned in the exercise like:

  • Black point and white point
  • Brightness of mid-tones
  • Contrast
  • Localised corrections

I decided to go with an image selected from my archives. This particular image had a colour cast and was ideal for the exercise. However, I realised that at the time of shooting, I had selected RAW only option. Hence, I converted the image to the best JPG quality. Now I was ready to start with the processing part.

Well it sounds pretty straightforward, but how many times do we actually observe how the histogram (that is behind the scene) is behaving. When we are making all of these changes, with every adjustment the histogram also changes. Essentially in Lightroom 3, this is achieved through some of the basic control in the development module. At the point of import both the images had lot of magenta tint. However, the colour tint in the JPG file was stronger.

Let me start with the processing details. Notice the difference between the original image and the processed image.

RAW JPG
aaaaaaaaaaaa Basics:
The image had no clipping to start with.Tint: -40
Exposure: +0.30
Recovery: 23Black: increased it to 15
Brightness: +50 reduced to +39
Vibrance: None
Basics:
After the conversion the image had little highlight clippings on the right hand corner.
Tint: -27
Exposure: None
Recovery: 100 (in spite of this the clipping was there)
Black: increased it to 11
Brightness: +50 reduced to -40
Vibrance: -17
aaaa
Graduate Filter:
(Top part) Darken: Exposure: -0.27
Brightness: -22
(Lower part) lighten: Exposure: 0.5
Brightness: 7
Saturation: -6
Graduate Filter:
(Top part) Darken: Exposure: -0.18
(Lower part) lighten: Exposure: 0.42
Brightness: 43
Contrast: 10
Adjustment Brush (lighten):
Exposure: 1.02
Brightness: 66
Adjustment Brush (lighten):
Exposure: 1.42
Brightness: 142
Contrast: -35

RAW files:

Ex-12-RAW-comparison

The above image is the comparison between two RAW files. Check the difference between the images and how their histograms have changed. The histogram of the unprocessed image reflects over exposure. See how the peaks (showing over exposure) in the histograms have literally vanished after the processing. The curves of the mid-tones have also improved. Range of underexposure has shifted close to the age. However, it is not as high as the original histogram. Details in the sky have returned beautifully. The Rock in the foreground has more clarity and the processing has taken care of the under and over exposed areas.

JPG files:

Ex-12-JPG-comparison-copy

On the other hand, check the JPG comparison. For some reason, after the conversion the peaks in the histogram have flattened. The conversion had overexposed the image, the moment I moved the recovery slider the over exposure peaks started fading out. If I compare the changes between the original and processed histograms, JPG histogram has had drastic changes. However, the RAW had gentle change in the peaks.

Comparison:

At the end, I compared the processed images at 100%. Both the images had gone through the similar processing steps. However, the results are very different for both. This is quite visible in the rocky foreground. JPG file had lost details in the dark areas and it was not recoverable. Compared to that, only in one place (small dark area) RAW file had lost the details. I could recover the details by using local adjustment brush. The colour tones are also better recovered in RAW.

EX12_RAW_JPG_Compare

To see the final version of the processed image visit my website www.lenstrail.com

Conclusion:

I completely agree with the term “optimising” for such basic adjustments. On multiple occasions, I have noticed that post processing can dramatically change the image. It brings the image closer to reality by enhancing the dynamics. Whether you capture your images in RAW format or JPG, basic optimization is sometimes required.

In the previous exercise, we saw that RAW files are superior quality compared to the best JPG. They are not compressed and hold individual values intact. This exercise supports the same fact again. Here, we can see that the RAW carries more tonal division and better colour interpretation.

After this exercise, it is obvious that in case I need to optimize an image RAW will be the preferred file format for me.

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