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Postprocessing with highlight-weighted autoexposure


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I have been getting used to highlight-weighted exposure with both the SL2-S and the Q2. If there are significant peripheral highlights in the scene then the image can end up well underexposed on the main subject. If you are shooting out of doors then you can end up with a lot of images with sky in them that require a lot of post processing to lift the shadows and midtones while protecting highlights. 

The rationale for highlight-weighted exposure is fine, and can produce much better skies than 'normal' autoexposure, but I would like to make a basic preset (in Lightroom) that is likely to get close to a well-balanced image.

How do others deal with this? Do you have an preset to help post processing? Do you do it with the tone curve or with the shadows, exposure and highlights sliders?

Edited by LocalHero1953
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54 minutes ago, LocalHero1953 said:

but I would like to make a basic preset (in Lightroom) that is likely to get close to a well-balanced image.

Have you tried the "Auto" button in the Tone section in LR?

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3 minutes ago, NERICSSON said:

Have you tried the "Auto" button in the Tone section in LR?

Yes, oddly it is not very helpful - the image remains underexposed. I guess it is something to do with how the algorithm considers the white point. If it sets the white point at the highest 'non-white' tone (e.g. 255, 255, 255), rather than the true white point (256, 256, 256), then it might have knock on effects on the rest of the tones. But I'm guessing.

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Posted (edited)

You should have a more effective 'Auto' button in ACR, along with alternative profiles which may help. But generally use the sliders in ACR and judge with your eye because not every image will be equal. Finally though if it is difficult bringing the mid-tones back in maybe you've erred too far into exposing for the highlights, after all if you can see white why try to make the camera see grey, so use the cameras histogram.

Edited by 250swb
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Posted (edited)
9 minutes ago, 250swb said:

You should have a more effective 'Auto' button in ACR, along with alternative profiles which may help. But generally use the sliders in ACR and judge with your eye because not every image will be equal. Finally though if it is difficult bringing the mid-tones back in maybe you've erred too far into exposing for the highlights, after all if you can see white why try to make the camera see grey?

Yes, I agree, though if the highlight-weighted exposure has erred too far that's the problem with the way it is implemented - it's an autoexposure setting, not a manual one. It certainly works in the sense that the uncorrected sky and cloud tones are near perfect!

I'm just trying to find a quick and dirty way of getting the images back to a position where I can rapidly appraise them and decide which are worth working on. In trials two days ago I found midtones to be around 2 stops underexposed when there was a lot of sky visible. If midtones and shadows are two stops down, I find it difficult to judge the image properly. 

I have made a preset using the sliders. My question here was to find if anyone had another way of dealing with the matter.

Edited by LocalHero1953
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On 7/4/2022 at 5:23 PM, SrMi said:

I always deal with such images manually, image by image. if you have a sequence with similar exposure, you could modify the first and sync the changes to the others.

This.

With my M I impersonate highlight metering (which is fantastic metering for cameras with it) by turning down the EC wheel until I have no blinkies, typically 1-1.25 stops down (also to protect myself if I press the shutter when highlights are more prominent without having to worry much). I always focus on lifting the shadows so they are between very slightly underexposed to 1.5 stops below in some cases, which the monochrome has no issue handling.

Only provide that context if helpful and to share I have the same approach. All I do to see if a severely underexposed shot is worth processing/keeping/spending ANY time with is to push up ONLY the exposure slider up to a few stops. It makes for a nasty look of course but just lets me see graphically what turned out, people’s expressions, form, composition, where lights and shadows naturally fall, etc. If it piques my interest I keep and move on to evaluate the rest in the same way, and batch deleting them (after marking them with ax’s) if they feel like there’s zero potential or not inspired to take any single shot further. This also lets me delete the vast majority of what I take at the same time to really keep what I find of potential future relevance.

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  • 3 weeks later...

Have you considered using Luminar Neo as a plugin? They have a number of AI HDR tools to help in this situation like Relight.

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2 hours ago, jaapv said:

Have you considered using Luminar Neo as a plugin? They have a number of AI HDR tools to help in this situation like Relight.

Thanks, I'll look at it. For the moment I have a preset which works reasonably well.

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