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Author Topic: How do I recover interior photography blown out?  (Read 14093 times)
couleur
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« on: September 16, 2007, 09:17:26 AM »
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Recently I was working as an assistant photography under a well known company. But I have a problem during post processing, I couldn't find a way to recover the blown off highlights on the windows. Does anyone know how can I get this naturally fixed?

I took a few different exposures just to ensure nothing goes wrong, but I did not make a HDR.

Canon 350D @ 10mm
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Scott Martin
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« Reply #1 on: September 16, 2007, 09:37:59 AM »
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I think it's nice looking as it is but this is a good case for HDR imaging. If you shot multiple exposures for HDR then that's clearly the way to bring in more highlight detail.
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Jonathan Wienke
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« Reply #2 on: September 16, 2007, 09:48:30 AM »
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Short answer: you can't.

With film, the response curve had a gradual roll-off of sensitivity in the highlights and shadows, and unless you were several stops off from correct exposure, you could coax some kind of detail out of overexposed highlights.

With digital, this is NOT the case. Digital has a linear response to exposure, right up to the point where color channel(s) clip, and then increasing exposure further makes no difference whatsoever in the digital values output by the sensor/ADC. No matter what you do, you can't dig detail out of a featureless matrix of 255,255,255; it's mathematically impossible.

This is the foundation of the "expose to the right" doctrine when shooting digital; get as much exposure as you can, but DO NOT overexpose the highlights, or you have lost them, and cannot get them back. When you see a spike on the right side of the histogram, that is a danger sign indicating you have a problem. Either you need to reduce exposure (which runs the risk of increasing noise levels in the image) or else you need to use a multi-shot HDR technique to blend multiple frames with different exposures together to capture all of the dynamic range of the subject.

You have two options:
1: Reshoot.
2: Paste an outdoor scene image into the blown-out window and try to make it look realistic and hope the client doesn't notice or care about your incompetence.
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couleur
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« Reply #3 on: September 16, 2007, 10:01:17 AM »
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looks like i would need to cut and paste the curtains and windows.
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Andy M
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« Reply #4 on: September 16, 2007, 10:26:38 AM »
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2: Paste an outdoor scene image into the blown-out window and try to make it look realistic and hope the client doesn't notice or care about your incompetence.
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=139749\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

Ouch!  

I don't necessarily think it's a lack of ability here per se, simply a limitation of the equipment used.

As it is, given that there is netting covering the windows, this would suggest to me the view is not of importance anyway?
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Scott Martin
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« Reply #5 on: September 16, 2007, 10:26:47 AM »
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looks like i would need to cut and paste the curtains and windows.[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=139751\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

That's harder then it sounds and rarely comes out well. If you shot several exposures why not use File>automate>MergeToHDR and make a true HDR file? If your exposures don't cover a wide enough range why don't you re-shoot it intentionally for HDR? Save the current non-HDR shot (which I think looks great just like it is) and compare it to your HDR version. That might be a really good exercise.
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Jonathan Wienke
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« Reply #6 on: September 16, 2007, 12:19:18 PM »
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Ouch!  

I don't necessarily think it's a lack of ability here per se, simply a limitation of the equipment used.

Nonsense! The 350D has a histogram no less accurate or readable than that found on the 1Ds or any other "pro" digital camera, and it also has a manual mode that can be used to bracket exposures until clipping isn't happening any more. The camera used has nothing to do with the dilemma presented here; I could make a better-looking image with my Olympus SP-350 digicam. I'd have to do HDR bracketing and blending, and then make a stitched panorama from the bracketed blends to get that wide of a FOV and an acceptably low noise level, but I could create a better image than what was posted here with a $350 pocket camera and a tripod and an L bracket and some time post-processing. It's not the equipment, it's knowing how to use it effectively and work around its limitations. More capable equipment can make one's workflow much more efficient, but is never a substitute for knowing your gear (whatever it is) well enough to effectively accomplish the task.

If I was the client paying for the job, I'd be upset, and justifiably so. I can understand and respect differences of artistic opinion over matters such as how warm or cool to set white balance or whether a window should be centered or slightly off to the left in a particular shot, but if you're going to charge people money for your photography, you ought to at least understand the basic skills of your trade, like how to focus properly and achieve proper exposure, and what to do in situations where that may be difficult. It's no different than hiring a mechanic to change a tire on your car; you don't want the tire to fall off shortly after pulling out of the garage. That's basically what has happened here.

Hopefully coleur will use this as a learning experience, and will be a better photographer as a result.
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Kirk Gittings
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« Reply #7 on: September 16, 2007, 03:13:20 PM »
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Digital capture has not done away with the need for supplemental lighting in interior architectural photography, nor has HDR. This is especially true for inside/out shots. HDR rarely gives believable tonailties (it works better on landscapes). Utilizing Highlight Recovery and Fill Light in ACR on a well exposed raw file can work well if the dynamic range is not too extreme. Generally, we need less lighting with DC, but there is still no substitute for knowing how to light a room.
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Kirk

Kirk Gittings
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marcmccalmont
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« Reply #8 on: September 16, 2007, 04:04:37 PM »
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Recently I was working as an assistant photography under a well known company. But I have a problem during post processing, I couldn't find a way to recover the blown off highlights on the windows. Does anyone know how can I get this naturally fixed?

I took a few different exposures just to ensure nothing goes wrong, but I did not make a HDR.

Canon 350D @ 10mm
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=139742\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]


Was this converted from a raw file?
Marc
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Marc McCalmont
Andy M
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« Reply #9 on: September 16, 2007, 05:13:58 PM »
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If I was the client paying for the job, I'd be upset, and justifiably so. I can understand and respect differences of artistic opinion over matters such as how warm or cool to set white balance or whether a window should be centered or slightly off to the left in a particular shot, but if you're going to charge people money for your photography, you ought to at least understand the basic skills of your trade, like how to focus properly and achieve proper exposure, and what to do in situations where that may be difficult. It's no different than hiring a mechanic to change a tire on your car; you don't want the tire to fall off shortly after pulling out of the garage. That's basically what has happened here.

Hopefully coleur will use this as a learning experience, and will be a better photographer as a result.
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=139779\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

You're correct, but appear to have forgotten that the guy did not ask for critique - he asked for help.

Without more information from couleur your chosen analogy may not be so accurate also - we do not know that he's been paid at all, and if so, to what level/expectation.

So maybe the tyre hasn't quite fallen off yet, maybe it just doesn't quite have the correct pressure which may lead to earlier than expected failure
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Jonathan Wienke
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« Reply #10 on: September 16, 2007, 10:10:51 PM »
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You're correct, but appear to have forgotten that the guy did not ask for critique - he asked for help.

And there is no help for this situation. The advice I gave (learn how to expose properly and how to deal with high-DR situations in the future) is all he can do. There is no real cure here, other than the cut-and-paste kludge I already suggested. The best he can do is learn how to prevent this situation from happening in the future, and that requires becoming a more competent photographer.

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Without more information from couleur your chosen analogy may not be so accurate also - we do not know that he's been paid at all, and if so, to what level/expectation.

He says he was working as an assistant photographer for a well-known company in the original post. If he's NOT getting paid, he's not working for a company (which customarily involves payment), he's volunteering.

And in this situation, the tire is blown, just like the window highlights...
« Last Edit: September 16, 2007, 10:36:31 PM by Jonathan Wienke » Logged

Andy M
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« Reply #11 on: September 17, 2007, 03:23:17 AM »
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On the former - 100% agree.

On the latter - you and I have differing opinions


couleur - good look sorting it!
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eronald
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« Reply #12 on: September 17, 2007, 03:59:25 AM »
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Maybe we can help the guy a bit ?

Now, my take is that if this was a Raw file, then highlight recovery is a standard feature in some software, and the file can probably be processed well.

If it is a Jpeg, then the floor highlights can possibly be improved by rebuilding channels a bit, and the windows can be drawn in or left as such.

Edmund
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Jonathan Wienke
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« Reply #13 on: September 17, 2007, 12:27:56 PM »
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Maybe we can help the guy a bit ?

Now, my take is that if this was a Raw file, then highlight recovery is a standard feature in some software, and the file can probably be processed well.

If it is a Jpeg, then the floor highlights can possibly be improved by rebuilding channels a bit, and the windows can be drawn in or left as such.

Highlight recovery only works when one of the color channels is blown in RAW. Once all 3 channels are blown, there is no hope for recovery, which appears to be the case here. JPEGs are even less recoverable than RAW. If the fix was a simple matter of backing off the exposure setting in ACR, I doubt the original post would have been made. So there's only a few options, either paste something into the blown window highlights (which I already suggested), leave them blown, or reshoot.

If a reshoot is done, there are 4 approaches:

1. Multi-bracketed-exposure HDR blending. (which I already mentioned)

2. Lighting the interior with strobes to more closely match the exterior lighting level. (already mentioned by Kirk Gittings) This approach requires a fair amount of equipment and someone who knows how to use it, and may not be coleur's best option.

3. Shooting at a earlier or later time of day when the exterior light is not as bright, so it more closely matches the brightness of the interior lighting.

4. Some combination of 1-3.
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DiaAzul
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« Reply #14 on: September 17, 2007, 12:38:40 PM »
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IMHO the problem is not the window but the reflection off the floor near the rug which causes most problems. The window can easily be corrected by selectively reducing the brightness - we expect windows with net curtains to be white and I don't think it detracts from the image. However, the reflection off the floor could be considered is a bit too dominant and it would have been nice to reduce the brightness of this area and retain some detailing of the floor. If you really need to fix the floor then I would look to clone some of the detail from elsewhere on floor over the blown out section, reduce the reflections brightness and adjusting opacity to make it look like a dull highlight with some of the texture showing through.

Having said all the above, I actually quite like the image the way that it is and trying to jiggle around too much with it destroys the overall impression and balance.
« Last Edit: September 17, 2007, 12:41:27 PM by DiaAzul » Logged

David Plummer    http://photo.tanzo.org/
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« Reply #15 on: September 17, 2007, 04:36:19 PM »
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Some people are so arrogant and friendly here. NICE guys...
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Schewe
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« Reply #16 on: September 17, 2007, 05:11:09 PM »
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I took a few different exposures just to ensure nothing goes wrong, but I did not make a HDR.
[{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

If you shot in raw vs JPEG, you should be able to dual process the image with different settings from Camera Raw and blend them as layers in Photoshop. If you have CS3, try opening the image as a Smart Object. You can then make a new SO via Copy with will allow you to alter the highlight handling and blend via a mask or beling options...

Check out the free PDF at: [a href=\"http://www.adobe.com/digitalimag/ps_pro_primers.html]White Papers and Primers[/url] particularly Highlight Recovery in Adobe Camera Raw
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eronald
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« Reply #17 on: September 17, 2007, 06:06:05 PM »
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If you shot in raw vs JPEG, you should be able to dual process the image with different settings from Camera Raw and blend them as layers in Photoshop. If you have CS3, try opening the image as a Smart Object. You can then make a new SO via Copy with will allow you to alter the highlight handling and blend via a mask or beling options...

Check out the free PDF at: White Papers and Primers particularly Highlight Recovery in Adobe Camera Raw
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=140037\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]


Thanks for your constructive reply, Jeff ! I was starting to fear that hazing had taken over the whole forum.

Edmund
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jerryrock
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« Reply #18 on: September 17, 2007, 10:50:49 PM »
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Photoshop Shadow/Highlight tool will help recover some lost detail also.
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Gerald J Skrocki
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« Reply #19 on: September 17, 2007, 11:18:44 PM »
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Recently I was working as an assistant photography under a well known company. But I have a problem during post processing, I couldn't find a way to recover the blown off highlights on the windows. Does anyone know how can I get this naturally fixed?

I took a few different exposures just to ensure nothing goes wrong, but I did not make a HDR.

Canon 350D @ 10mm
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=139742\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

You've gotten some harsh replies but also some viable solutions. Personally I don't think it looks too bad but I also think you could easily improve on it with your under exposed  bracket(s).

I wouldn't bother with Photoshop's HDR unless it's a dramatic improvement over CS2 (I use Photomatix). Even so, I usually do it manually, essentially using a variation of the technique Schewe wrote about, but I usually use the brush tool instead of selections.

For example, open up the problem file, then open the under bracket in ACR and process it for best highlight detail. Open that in Photoshop, shift-drag it's background layer over your problem file (if the camera didn't move they'll line up just fine).

Now select the under bracket's layer, go into the Layers menu, choose Layer Mask, Hide All. Type D to set the default fill colors, and X to put white on top. Choose a soft brush, with about 10% flow, and literally paint in the highlight detail. If you've gone too far, type X again to put the black on top, and "un-paint" what you just painted in.

Simple to do, once you get the hang of it.
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