Tone up your shots
Part 4 Rod Lawton explores Capture NX-D’s tonal adjustments
Not every image you shoot with your Nikon D-SLR will
be perfectly exposed. Tricky lighting conditions or unusually dark- or light-toned subjects can fool the camera’s light meter into under-exposing or over-exposing the picture, but if the error is small you can fix this later using Nikon Capture NX-D. There may be other times when the exposure is correct but the picture just lacks contrast. You get this if you’re shooting through glass or under very flat, overcast lighting. Capture NX-D can fix this too.
But how? This isn’t so obvious. In fact, Capture NX-D offers three ways to make tonal adjustments, and you can use them individually or together. It looks more complicated than it is, because Capture NX-D is trying to do three things.
First, it’s acting as a RAW converter for your Nikon NEF files. That’s what the controls at the top of the Edit panel are for – they apply core RAW adjustments, including an Exposure Compensation tool to help get the best tonal range from your RAW files. If you’re shooting RAW, this is a good starting point.
Second, it’s attempting to match the Picture Control options you get in the camera by offering a Tone panel with Brightness, Contrast and Saturation sliders. These mimic the effect of those adjustments on the camera, but they’re not the best tools for subtle image editing.
Third, Capture NX-D is also an image-editing tool in its own right. Specifically, it has a Levels and Curves dialog which enables you to make the same kind of subtle tonal adjustments you get in Photoshop.
You don’t have to use all three of Capture NX-D’s tonal adjustments, just the ones that are most useful to you. For example, if you’re working on JPEGs, you might go straight to the Levels & Curves panel, while if you’re starting from a RAW file, you might make a quick Exposure Compensation adjustment first.