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Hey gang. This is Deke McClelland. Welcome to Deke's Techniques. Now I don't know about you but I spend a lot of my time in Camera Raw. You may spend more of your time in Lightroom. But either way, there's a development setting that's more mysterious than all of the others and that's exposure. Because is it a highlight control? Is it a gamma control? Does it move the entire histogram around? Does it spread it out? What? Which is why I thought today would be a perfect opportunity to get to the bottom of things and master exposure for once and for all.
And along the way we're going to take this very dark photograph here and we're going to bring out all of the brightness as well as the raw, rugged, handsomeness, that is fellow Lynda.com author James Williamson here. Let me show you exactly how it works. All right, let's get down with those exposure controls in Camera raw. I'm going to start things off by going up to the File menu and choosing Open a Smart Object. Just so I can take this DNG file that I've got here, as captured incidentally by Jacob Cunningham.
And I'm going to import it into Photoshop as a smart object. So I'll go ahead and click the Open button to do so. That'll bring up the Camera Raw interface. Now what I typically do at this point, because I'm much too fond of goofing around with these controls, and then changing my mind and hitting the Cancel button. Which would cancel the entire project. So I'd have to start completely from scratch. What I like to do is click OK, right at the beginning here, and that'll create the Camera Raw Smart Object inside of a New document here inside Photoshop.
So now I've got a nice, stable starting point. Now let's modify this image. By double clicking on its thumbnail, here inside the Layers panel. And now we'll re-open the Camera Raw Dialogue box. I'm going to zoom in a little bit by pressing Ctrl plus, Cmd plus on a MAC. So that James looks like he's just a head floating in space. And I'm also going to turn on my warnings here. My clipping warnings. And you do that by clicking on these little triangles. So I'll click on the highlight clipping warning first and then I'll click on the shadow clipping warning icon over here on the left-hand side of the histogram.
And now where we see red and blue are the clipped highlights and shadows respectively. That is to say anything that appears red is going to turn completely white, and big areas of white like this are terrible, we don't want anything like that. And then these areas of blue are black pixels and they're a little fragmented, they're noisy so they're separated from each other which is better than the alternative. But we'd like to get rid of as much as that as possible. Problem is this is a very difficult image to correct because after all, what highlights we do have are very concentrate and very bright, and everything else is in complete shadow.
So somehow we've got to peel things apart a little bit. And we're going to do that using these corrective controls right here in the center, Exposure through blacks. And we're going to start things off with the Exposure control, because it really is the most difficult control to wrap your brain around. It's tempting to think of exposure as analogous to adjusting the exposure, when you're actually capturing the image. And to an extent, it is, but it's not the same thing. And it's also not a mid-tones control, like the Gamma Control inside the Levels dialogue box.
Nor is it a high-lights control, or any of that. What it is, it's a whole histogram control. I want you to watch the histogram up here. Notice that we have a few highlights, very few, and most of the highlights we do have are clipped, as indicated by that vertical line right here on the right-hand side. And then we've got very few mid-tones, and then we've got this galumphing stack of shadows over here. Many of which are clipped on the far left side. And notice, if I increase the exposure, I'm moving that whole histogram over, and I'm just shoving it against the right-hand side.
So that we've got all kinds of clipped highlights going on now. If I move it over to the left, past the midpoint there, then I'm shoving the entire histogram over to the left hand side. Notice my highlights are now clipped midtones. And we're just shoving the histogram all the way over to the left hand side, which means we have tons of clipped shadows. So, the Exposure control is one of those few controls in Camera raw, that can incite either clip shadows or clipped highlights, and you can even find a magical point at which you have both.
Look at that. We've got tons of clipped shadows over here, on the left hand side, and we've got tons of clipped highlights as well. A couple of other things to note about exposure, and you do want to modify it first typically, although you're going to go back and forth with these controls. But another things to note, is if you move your cursor over the midpoint here inside the histogram, in the top right corner of the screen, you're going to see the word, exposure below your cursor down in that RGB area immediately below. And that's because you can drag the mid-tones either to the right in order to increase the exposure value or to the left so I'm dragging directly inside the histogram, to reduce the exposure value.
So that's another way to work, and there is a certain logic to using the Exposure control here in order to get your mid tones where you want them to be. And so, the mid-tones are probably going to be somewhere around this region of James's jaw, right there. And so 1.9 plus 1.9 might work out pretty well. Another thing you can do, is cross your fingers and click on the Auto button and hope that Camera raw comes up with something good on its own. And it came up with plus 1.65. And you know what? Let's just go ahead and accept that and work from there.
Now this next control is the easiest one to understand. You probably already do. If you want to increase the contrast, then you increase the contrast value. If you want less contrast, you reduce the contrast value. A monkey understands it so I'm just going to set it to zero, where this image is concerned because it really doesn't serve us any purpose. Our contrast is a wreck and we're going to have to rely on these other controls right here. Now, I want to take some of the wind out of the highlights, so I want to reduce that highlights value. And I want to open up the shadows, so I want to increase that shadows value. So I can either just drag the sliders or I can drag inside the highlights and, or, the shadows appear in histogram.
So, I'm going to start things off. Notice, down below my cursor in that RGB area, we can see the word Highlights. When, I hover over this sort of central right region of the graph. And, now, I'll just drag to the left, in order to reduce the highlights value to negative 100, which is the lowest value that you can apply. And, it looks great. Actually, we're not seeing any negative repercussions and this light is holding up beautifully. And, I still have the clipping warning on. And, we're not seeing any red. Which means we don't have any clipping, which is awesome. And now I'm going to drag inside the shadows region.
You can see shadows in this RGB area down here. Notice when I move my cursor up. Now I'll drag all the way to the right to increase the Shadows value to its maximum, so we're opening the shadows as much as possible. And the only downside is that we're revealing the copious amount of noise inside this image which is par for the course. For one thing, we've got an ISO. Pretty up and up, at 12, 50 here. But also, shadows contain noise, inside digital photographs. That's just the way it works.
So any time you open up shadows you're going to get noise. But this is a good-looking image. Just put the noise out of your mind for a moment. Just focus on the highlights and shadows. And then what you want to do is drop down the Whites and Blacks so you can set them where they want to be. You just want to drag the White slider until you see clipping, as we do over here in the lantern. And you want to drag it over to the left until that clipping goes away, which happens at about plus ten. So I'll set it right there, that looks good.
And then, we want to drag the blacks value back and forth until we see some clipped shadows show up, as they are in abundance, noisy abundance over here primarily on the left hand side of the image. And then you want to drag that slider up to the right, until most of that clipping goes away. And so we're left with a few stray blue pixels at a Blacks value of negative 20, but nothing that troubles me. And it's nice to have some blacks inside of your image, because it lends the shadows a little bit of power.
And then finally, notice that Clarity down here is separated from the Exposure controls. And that's because where the Exposure controls are really devoted to correcting the luminance balance inside of an image. Clarity is purely subjective. It's edge contrast ultimately, it's a kind of sharpening parlour trick. And I'm just going to take that guy up to let's say 50. I think that James could handle it. If I was worried that he couldn't, I'd take the clarity value down so he's nice and smooth, but he doesn't want that. And we have got ourselves an image. Now you may worry about all of that noise inside of the image and it's not really blue noise.
That's the clipping warning right there so I'm going to turn off shadow clipping warning and I'm going to turn off highlight clipping warning as well. And it's not the noise that's really a problem I'm going to go ahead and zoom in here. So we can see his nose and his mouth, because there is a lot of noise in this area. It's not so much that the noise is the problem as the brittleness of this noise. Rather then correcting the noise right now, which we would do from the Detail tab, I'm going to switch over to the Effects tab and I'm going to take the amount of gray to 50.
And that doesn't really do anything, and that's because we need to follow it up by cranking up the size value as well. And I could take that value all the way up to 100 if I want to but then we start to lose detail. So I'll take it up to 50, but notice how we're completely transforming the appearance of this noise. This is the real noise inside of the image at zero, a size value at zero, and this is our new noise. We're basically substituting the noise inside of the image with grain, so we are overwhelming the real noise inside of the image.
And then you can take the roughness value down, and notice if you take it way down you get this kind of sharpened noise. I'm going to take the roughness though up to 25, which is less than the default of 50 but gives us a nice effect as you can see here. And then just to see the difference between real noise and good old grain here turn off the Preview check box that's the real noise. And I'll zoom in just a little bit more, so you can really see it here inside of the video. So this is the side of James' nose, and this is one of his eyes.
And then I'll turn on the Preview check box so we can see what we've done, specifically in the Effects panel, this is our new beautiful, just slightly rough grain. Now, I'll go ahead and click the OK button in order to apply that change, and notice it made a huge difference. This is before, and this is after. We have ourselves a very nice looking image. If I press the f key, a couple of times and go ahead and zoom in, and this is the result. Once again, before, and after the result of mastering the Exposure settings to create a beautifully luminance balanced image using Camera Raw.
All right now, if you're a member of the Lynda.com online training library, lucky you, because I have follow-up movie in which I show you how to take our very noisy image so far. And we're going to make it super smooth, and unflinchingly sharp, just like this image here. If you're waiting for next weeks free movie I'm going to show you how to get rid of an inadvertent photo bomber like this dude right here. The little guy, the head. These techniques each and every week, keep watching.
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