Exercise: Highlight clipping

This is a scene of high contrast and I have photographed it from the point just below which the camera indicates hightlight clipping.  From this light level I then replicated the shot through +1 to -3 EV giving me five shots.  Detail from each shot, an area of colour and an area of near white is shown below for comparison.

+1 EV

EV 0 (exposure just below the white clipping point)

EV -1

EV -2

EV -3

Looking at the magnified areas above we can note the following.

At +1 EV the white areas of stone are completely lacking in detail such that different areas of stone blend together as if they were one.  Except where shadow indicates breaks, it is impossible to tell the edges of the stone.  Clicking on the +1 EV image to expand it, lines of green fringing can be seen around the block (top left corner) and red fringing on the shadow it creates.  The colour sections shows a little desaturation as it is washed out by the overexposure.

Examining the other images the amount of detail that becomes obvious on the white increases as photos are stopped down but by the time they get to EV-3 things are getting so dark that the detail is becoming lost in the gloom. The coloured fringing is generally present throughout but by -3 EV the green has almost disappeared however the red is still present.  The colour saturation increases until the lack of exposure at -2EV and beyond makes it too dark to be obvious.

As is suggested, on this blowup I used the Recovery option in Lightroom to regain some of the detail from the +1 EV image.  Certainly, this option has done a lot to recover the information from the clipped areas; the edges are more obvious and much more texture is visible.  There were no discernible strange effects from putting the slider to maximum.

Finally, I used all of the available options in Lightroom to adjust this +1 EV image in an attempt to recover the maximum amount of information from the RAW photo.

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