How to widen dynamic range in fashion photography

October 25, 2013   4354 views

It may be three and more… Why?  A RAW file keeps a lot more information as compared to a TIFF file or even a TIFF-16.  Let’s not talk about JPEG format that holds a lot less.

Sometimes we may need to extract two, three or maybe more images from a single RAW file. We do this to get the best image quality possible.  Of course, we can possibly achieve the same result using curves or levels in Photoshop.  But knowing that even TIFF-16 has less information than RAW we may not get the best image possible.

If I make my pictures in the studio I can work a lot with the lights, understanding what I need and what I can do to achieve the desired result.  At my studio photography workshops and classes I often say that the photographer should make pictures that don’t need a lot of postproduction work. But that may not always be the case.  Unfortunately we may have to do a lot of postproduction work to achieve the desired look.

Sometimes we don’t have the time, necessary equipment or a full understanding about the ultimate picture we need to achieve the results in camera.  We end up getting images that need wide correction of exposure in different areas to make the image more natural and accurate.  Sometimes, after the shooting we see a need to change exposure in different areas of the picture to make it more glossy and beautiful and have the image really pop.

Here is an example of that kind of picture.  I chose the photo made in one of my workshops, where I demonstrated studio lighting techniques. I like to explain about key, fill, modeling and background lights using sources of hard light.   I advise photographers to use hard lights to understand lighting; it is difficult, but a great chance to make a nice, bright image.   Shown below is a nice picture I got using only hard lights which I wanted to make brighter.  Here’s the way I did it.

The source file is shown below. This is the source for 100%: color balance is 5600, the exposure marker is at “0″, the curve is straight; the contrast is “0″. It is a soft, low-contrast photo that does not convey what I saw in the studio.

RAW conversion image photoshop Two images from one RAW photoshop layers

I wanted beauty, bright, contras picture, so I decided to “pull” 2 images from one RAW file.  The first is the main picture (below), here I was looking at the contrast on the face and the right arm.

Tutorial lesson photoshop article studio postprocessing Two images from one RAW photoshop RAW conversion

The second image is posted below. Here I was looking at the shadow areas and the model’s dress. I corrected exposure to 1.5 exposure steps up and increased the contrast.

Tutorial lesson photoshop article studio postprocessing RAW conversion \Two images from one RAW conversion

Further, I merged these two images as two layers in Photoshop, added a mask for the upper layer and filled it with 100% black.  Then I painted the area that I wanted showing up from the overexposed (and high contrast) with a white brush.

Tutorial lesson photoshop article studio postprocessing RAW conversion

That is what I got!  You can do it with smart object in Photoshop.  Since, my Hasselblad doesn’t provide me such a possibility; I need to do it with layers. But If you have an action on your computer it doesn’t take a lot of time. Maybe 5 seconds. Not more.

Tutorial lesson photoshop article studio postprocessing RAW conversion