Optimizing Dynamic Range

Although we usually avoid using any tools with the prefix "Auto" in their names, we do use ACR's Auto adjustments to provide us with a basis for adjusting tonal values. This tool can produce usable results and is toggled on and off using K/^l-ful.

This time, we use the third in our sequence of crab shots. This image is a little underexposed, as you can see in figure 5-41.

Figure 5-39: Synchronize defines which settings you want to transfer.
Figure 5-41: Our image before applying Auto adjustment

Auto adjustment produces the result that you see in figure 5-42. This version of the image is a good starting point for additional fine-tuning.

Figure 5-42: Our image after applying Auto adjustment

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Figure 5-42: Our image after applying Auto adjustment

We then increase the Exposure, Blacks, Brightness, and Contrast values manually. The aim of our adjustments is to retain as much shadow detail as possible while keeping contrast low enough to leave us some leeway for fine-tuning later using Photoshop.

For this image, we also brighten the shadow areas slightly using the Fill Light slider. If the histogram shows shadow clipping, we adjust the Blacks slider while holding down the key to see where clipping starts and whether it actually spoils the image. Reducing the Blacks value slightly often helps to reduce shadow clipping.

We now slowly increase the Fill Light value while keeping an eye on potential clipping using the key. Too much Fill Light quickly makes and image dull and lifeless. Figure 5-43 shows our image before and after applying some Fill Light.

Figure 5-43: Our image before (left) and after (right) adding some Fill Light

Adjusting the Saturation and Clarity values in the Basic tab can improve an image, but we usually make these adjustments after we have fine-tuned the tone curve in the tab - or later in Photoshop.

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Figure 5-44: Medium Contrast point curve

Figure 5-44: Medium Contrast point curve

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