Fun­da­men­tals: Whites & High­lights

Take con­trol of whites and high­lights in your shots, with the help of Light­room

Digital Camera World - - PRACTICAL PHOTOSHOP -

Ex­plore two tools in Light­room for bal­anc­ing out over­ex­posed ar­eas

The tones and colours in any photo are rep­re­sented in the His­togram, from the dark parts on the left to the bright parts on the right. The fur­thest in­for­ma­tion on the right is the White Point, while to the left, it’s the Black Point. Here we’re look­ing at the lighter side.

The tones around the white point are con­trolled by the Whites and High­lights slid­ers in both Light­room and Cam­era Raw. Un­like the darker parts of a photo, most of the time you want to have de­tail in the brighter parts of the im­age. For­tu­nately, us­ing raw files helps re­tain this de­tail, and the Ex­po­sure slider also tries to pre­vent high­light clip­ping in op­er­a­tion. Whites con­trols the bright­est part of the photo, while High­lights – with some over­lap with Whites – runs from the brighter mid­tones up. As clip­ping is a good mea­sure of re­tained de­tail, it’s of­ten help­ful to see. By press­ing J or click­ing the high­light clip­ping tri­an­gle on the top right of the His­togram, high­light clip­ping is shown as a red over­lay. If you don’t see any, try mov­ing Whites to the right.

Al­ter­na­tively, hold the Alt key as you drag the slider. The photo will turn com­pletely black, ex­cept for ar­eas that are clip­ping. The colour shows which chan­nels are clip­ping: if you see green, the green chan­nel is clip­ping and los­ing de­tail. If a chan­nel is clipped and you re­duce Whites, Light­room will re­con­struct the clipped chan­nel from the other two.

High­lights 0: Here’s our be­fore photo with very lit­tle done. There’s some clip­ping ev­i­dent on the model’s left shoul­der.

Whites +25: Some clip­ping is show­ing as the red over­lay. The sun­lit ar­eas are blown – in this case it’s yel­low, which still looks OK.

Whites 0: Our start photo. Some ba­sic ed­its have been done, but the Whites still need some care­ful at­ten­tion.

High­lights +100: We’ve still not man­aged to clip the photo much – even the shoul­der – but the whole im­age ap­pears brighter.

Sean McCor­mack

Sean McCor­mack is a pho­tog­ra­pher and writer, based in Gal­way on the west coast of Ire­land. He’s the au­thor of The Indis­pens­ableGuide toLight­roomCC.

Whites -100: Now the sky takes on a more pas­tel tone, with much lower con­trast. The wave is much darker, too.

High­lights -100: Go­ing down fur­ther to -100, the sky and top look great. We have low­ered the con­trast in the im­age, though.

Whites -50, Ex­po­sure +45, Blacks -27: This com­bi­na­tion achieves a much bet­ter over­all bal­ance for the im­age.

High­lights -45: Set­ting High­lights to -45, the sky and the model’s top are darker, but the im­age bal­ance still looks fine.

Whites +100: Go­ing the whole way to 100, most of the sky and parts of the wave are gone, which loses a lot of de­tail in the shot.

High­lights -45, Con­trast +20: To coun­ter­act this, I’ve set Con­trast to 20. To en­hance colour, I’ve also set Vi­brance to +20.

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