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Old Oct 19, 2017, 9:02 AM   #1
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Default E-M1 Mark II Files and Gradient Masks in Adobe camera raw

Shooting landscapes, I tend to expose files with my Olympus cameras as far to the right of the histogram as possible to maximize the exposure and lessen as much as possible needing to raise shadow values, which raises noise issues in files captured with Micro Four-Thirds cameras.

On opening raw files exposed this way in Adobe camera raw, what one usually sees is a sky close to, if not all white. You know the values are all there as the histogram either shows no clipping at all or just a tiny amount, which is easily recoverable, but if you try and "recover" the sky using a normal tool like negative exposure compensation, you are just creating other problems in the rest of the scene by "fixing" the sky values with an adjustment that's being performed uniformly across the image. My primary fix for sky values is the gradient filter, which acts like a multi-stop neutral density filter, but with a lot more tricks than just a ND filter.

Starting at the top of the screen, I drag the gradient filter down the scene, which opens a window to the side of the image with several sliders you can utilize to adjust the image in just about any manner one could possibly want. I typically use the highlights and whites slider to adjust sky values down to levels that looks as close to normal in terms of the way I saw the scene.

Making those two adjustments can also affect highlights or whites in other areas of the image. The fix for that is another tool in the gradient filter box that allows you do eliminate the effect anywhere in the scene you want. I simply "paint" over areas where I want the filter to play no part in adjusting the scene. Localized edits and gradient filtering are two major benefits of Adobe Camera raw, be it ACR in Photoshop CC which I prefer using, or the Processing window in Lightroom, which is just a "prettier" version of ACR.

Here are a few images recently captured at the Arboretum on a sunny, high contrast lighting day with the 12-100mm f4 M. Zuiko that I processed using this method. The images themselves are nothing all that remarkable. I was choosing scenes to shoot that I would be able to use this method of processing to see what the limits of a raw file from the E-M1 Mark II might be. Based on the results I have seen, raw files from the E-M1 Mark II seem highly flexible in terms of using this process to maximize dynamic range

Last edited by Greg Chappell; Oct 19, 2017 at 9:12 AM.
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