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In this exercise I'm going to introduce you to the Exposure options, which allow you to adjust for highlight, shadows, midtones, contrast, and so on. If you're working along with me, train your Bridge on the 24_camera_raw folder, and then I want you to open up these two images here. They're called Lighthouse 1 and 2.dng, and I'm going to open them by pressing Ctrl+R or Command+R on a Mac to bring up Camera Raw, and they're two views of a California coastal lighthouse, one of which, this first one Lighthouse-1.dng, I shot with the sun at my back. The other one, the sun was in front of me essentially.
So, the second shot is fairly blown out, very high contrast as well, while the first shot is more balanced, but it's still dim and dark and a little bit dingy, and I need to brighten it up. So, two very different things going on with these images. I'm going to ultimately modify them independently of each other, but I'm going to start things off, like so. I'm going to select both of the images by clicking on the Select All button or by pressing Ctrl+A, Command+A on the Mac, and notice this second group of options here, Exposure through Contrast.
They allow you to adjust the luminance levels inside the image and you can think of Exposure and Blacks as being analogous, not exactly identical, but analogous to the white point and black point options inside the Levels dialog box, which you may recall from our discussion of Levels in Chapter 14. Brightness is very similar to the gamma value, and then Contrast is its own thing, and it expands the midtones into the shadow and highlight region if you increase the Contrast, or it takes those shadows and highlights and compresses them into the midtones if you decrease the Contrast.
Now, notice that I'm skipping for now two options, Recovery and Fill Light. We'll come back to those. All right, so, the first step that you might want to take, as I say, these options are analogous to those inside the Levels dialog box, and we have Auto Levels as well that we can apply, just by clicking on this Auto button right there. And the remarkable thing about Auto is it's even more intelligent than Auto Contrast and Auto Tone and Auto Colors that we saw back in Chapter 14. It will go ahead and modify the settings, all of these settings, for each one of these selected lighthouse images independently of each other.
So, I'll go ahead and click on Auto, and you can see that that ever so slightly modified the luminance levels of the selected lighthouse, Lighthouse-1.dng. It affected Lighthouse 2.dng a lot more, if I Alt+click or Option+click on that thumbnail there, and then I turn off the Preview check box which you can also activate by pressing the P key if you like. And when I turn Preview off, I'm going to see the image as it appeared before I applied any changes. So this is the original version of the image.
This is the after version. Thanks to my Auto adjustments. Now, notice that all of these options right now are blank, all six from Exposure down to Contrast, and that's because they now vary between the two selected images. Now, I don't think these are exactly the settings I want to apply, but I do want you to know that this Auto button is there, and you can call on it if you want to. Default is just going to reestablish the default settings, which is sometimes useful if you just want to start from square one, but otherwise I'd steer clear of it.
Anyway, I'm now going to click on Lighthouse-1.dng in order to select it independently, and we are now going to modify the Exposure controls manually. Notice that Camera Raw has seen fit to increase the Exposure value from its default setting of zero to +0.9 and incidentally, in case you're wondering what's going on here, the Exposure value is measured in f-stops. Now, I don't expect that to make sense to everybody. In fact, there might be very few people to whom that would make sense. However, if you are a professional photographer, you've been working with f-stops for years, then this might help you out.
Otherwise, just bear in mind that if you increase the Exposure value, you're going to brighten the highlights inside the image. If you decrease the Exposure value, you're going to deepen the highlights. Now, notice at zero, I'll go ahead and reset that Exposure value to zero for a moment, notice that my highlights are tragically dark at this point. Part of the reason they're so very dark is my Brightness value is down as well, and that's my gamma value, the midtones value, and as a result we are seeing this big lump of highlights which represents the region of the sky, all the way over here on the left side of the histogram, so that they're occupying the midtones ultimately.
So we have a very dim image indeed. Now we have a decent amount of shadows, but no highlights to speak of. The entire right side of the histogram is blank, and incidentally, the nice thing about this histogram, unlike the one inside the Level's dialog box, is that it updates dynamically as you make changes. So, notice if you increase that Exposure value, you're going to move the histogram over to the right. If you reduce the Exposure value, you're going to move the histogram, that is the highlights inside of the histogram, over to left. Now, what I want to be able to do is see what kind of changes I'm actually making to the highlights. Am I clipping the highlights, for example, as I am modifying the Exposure value? And in order to get a sense for that, you have these little triangles.
Notice them in the upper left-hand corner and the upper right-hand corner of the histogram. They indicate shadow and highlight clipping respectively. So, in our case we're seeing no highlight clipping, because that upper-right triangle is black, thereby indicating no clipping is occurring. Were it to appear white, we would have clipping in all three channels: Red, Green and Blue. Whereas, over here on the left-hand side, we do have a little clipping going on with the shadows. We have clipping specifically in the Blue channel. That's why that triangle is appearing blue for us, and you can adjust the clipping using the Blacks value down here, but right now we're focusing on Exposure.
So, if I increase the Exposure value to say 2.5, let's say, +2.5, then I've got an awful lot of clipping going on. I can see the clipping out here in the image window, but I can also see that I've got a white triangle in the upper right-hand corner that indicates to me that there is some clipping going on, and some serious clipping as well, because white means clipping in all channels. But really ultimately I'd like to see where that clipping is occurring inside of my image and I'll show you how to work with the clipping preview options here inside Camera Raw in the next exercise.
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