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How can I best recover shadows in a face in an image?

Discussion in 'Retouching and Post Processing' started by JMontes, Jun 29, 2008.

  1. So I blew this shot, but would desperately like to recover it as best as possible. There are two here, first is the image with basic edits, second is where I tried to recover some of the shadows in the face....but I don't think it looks that natural. Can someone offer some tips on how to recover some of the shadows on the right side of his face while still trying to keep it natural looking? I need to do this on a full resolution image for printing. Any help would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!


  2. Gee, I don't think you blew it! #1 looks great, just a little dark to my eye. Are you sure you can't just increase the exposure of the whole image a bit, and be happy with that?

    #2 is a classic example of what I don't like about the Shadow/Highlight filter. (You haven't said if that's what you used, but that's certainly the effect). You just end up with flat midtones and pasty shadow areas.
  3. Bill N

    Bill N Guest

    Just a bit of D lighting with NX. Much more can be done if you wish. You really have a lot to work with so I don't think you did too bad at all. Great capture!


    Just wanted to add that d lighting is all that was used. No additional levels or sharpening. A couple more tweaks and you would have a super photo of a great looking model!!
    Last edited by a moderator: Jun 30, 2008
  4. Yeah, see, this is what I'm talking about. I think that looks dreadfully flat, as if your camera has really small dynamic range.
  5. Nope, sorry Tom. Take a look at your red channel - blown to smithereens. That's just unforgivable.

    Look, I'm sorry everyone, there's some things that just can't be done globally. At times like these, you need to get down and dirty with selective enhancement, and deal with each part of the image as required. Your NX program just ain't gonna cut it, I'm afraid. This is a job for Photoshop.
  6. Ok, time I put my money where my mouth is ...


    Steps (in a nutshell):

    1. Lightened the photo overall a bit
    2. Selected the background and slightly increased the contrast, and deepened the greens a little.
    3. Selected the boy's face and increased the contrast.

    Not to everyone's taste, perhaps, but I'm pretty happy with it.
  7. ??? Since when is it possible to have a green and yellow channel in the same image?

    Yes, of course, Gimp and PSP could do it too. But not one of the global editing programs like Lightroom etc. I didn't know NX could do selective adjustments, thanks for that info.

    Sorry, the shirt, cheek, forehead and flowers are gone.

    Speak for yourself. I'm using Firefox 3 with colour management enabled, on a monitor calibrated with an EyeOne Display 2. And my image, and the OP's, have the sRGB profile embedded, so I'm seeing it as true as possible.
  8. For my tastes, Damien's example looks quite good. Nice contrast and natural color without blowing any channels. Only suggestion I would add is to darken the yellow flowers a tad more as they are very distracting.
  9. All, thanks for the help.

    Damien, you are exactly right. In a not so roundabout way I did mess with the shadow highlight option in CS3. Flat is a good description as you put it, and why I said it looks "unnatural". I couldn't just bump up the levels because it would blow out the left side of his face. Initially, this image was partially blown out, I had to decrease exposure in ACR when I first opened the NEF.

    Maybe it would be better to have his left side a bit blown out and then try to recover that vs. recovering the shadows? I had never thought of that actually......
  10. Wow Peano, that's great! Thanks! Can you elaborate just a bit on this? You have really nailed the result I was looking for.

  11. Randy


    May 11, 2006
    i quite often underexpose on purpose and use d-lighting or EV to recover shadows

    btw, this pic will turn into a masterpeice
  12. Great, thanks a lot! I'll try this out when I get home from work :biggrin:
  13. Commodorefirst

    Commodorefirst Admin/Moderator Administrator

    May 1, 2005
    Hello everyone,

    Just to keep things on an even keel, there are tools that can do the same job, here is my NX take, and I did some selective adjustments with color points, and brush work,

    (note to Tom: things seem really off on my monitor with your work? way over done, might be a difference in your work monitor vs home?)

    here is mine, and that said, I would also do the same as Peano did and tone down the flowers even more around the cute fella. (which I didn't do) and I do like Damien's retouch very very much too. well done Damien.

    I would probably opt to do this in PSCS3 myself because of the hair selection abilities.


  14. Wade, thanks for the input for NX, much appreciated.

    Okay, so I went back to the NEF and started over trying Peano's method. This is the final result for the face (i still need to fix some blemishes, but no big deal, that I can do :wink: ). How does this look?

    Peano, I had to do hard light, soft light just isn't giving me the lightness on the right side of his face like you got. How does this look? I haven't touched the flowers yet, i'm just really concerned with the face. This looks 100x better than what came straight out of the camera..I won't even post that, it'll blind you!

  15. Commodorefirst

    Commodorefirst Admin/Moderator Administrator

    May 1, 2005
    Well done! Maybe whiten the eyes a touch, but very nice!

  16. Thank you both for your kind words.
  17. edited

  18. Khaisy


    Jan 3, 2008
    Shadow & Highlight, contrast 13 and curve adjustment, color adjustment
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