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Two Tutorials On The Highlight/Shadow Sliders In Lightroom

Published: 22/10/2013

HighlightRecoverySliderSimon Maxwell our Lightroom Tutorial contributor in London just finished two excellent tutorials about using the Highlight/Shadow sliders in Lightroom. To cover the subject Simon did two different tutorials:

  1. Using the highlights slider
  2. The shadows recovery slider

I believe that the Highlight/Shadow sliders are a hugely important feature for real estate photography. This feature is not unique to Lightroom, it's an Adobe Camera RAW (ACR) feature so it's in Photoshop and Photoshop Elements too.

The reason it's so important for real estate is that it gives you a powerful tool to reduce window brightness and increase the brightness of shadowy areas of a room independently. Simon's tutorial illustrates this nicely. With these two sliders in Lightroom (or ACR) and an off-camera manual flash or two you can deal with most of the real estate interior shots you'll encounter. This means you don't need to take the time to shoot brackets and process the brackets with Photomatix or LR/Enfuse. These sliders along with a little flash are going to make HDR and Exposure Fusion processing for real estate photos obsolete!

Larry Lohrman

8 comments on “Two Tutorials On The Highlight/Shadow Sliders In Lightroom”

  1. What LR user is not using these sliders? There's a place or basic information, and this might be it, but it's not such a revelation. Personally, I use highlight and shadow adjustments to fix the last 25% of tonal adjustments, after I use plenty of well-controlled fill flash. And I always use DRO, Sony's DR feature, on my JPGs. And I humbly believe that my interiors look far better and more colorful then this example. Sometimes I think photographers, upset by seeing flash used badly, work too hard to avoid using it at all.

  2. Not sure I agree with the closing comment, making HDR/Fusion obsolete. These two sliders are good for perhaps 3 EV adjustment. There are a lot of cases where an environment's range exceeds their ability to adjust for.

    In my own use, these sliders are great for taking a decently exposed image and improving. Their use also varies by camera source. I've one camera that's much better in lower-light conditions compared to the other. The high-noise camera does not play as well with shadow recovery, dictating improved lighting and/or blending images.

  3. @JT - Yes, I needed to be clearer. I didn't mean Hightlight/Shadow slider by itself would make HDR/EF obsolete, I mean Hightlight/Shadow slider along with a flash.

  4. @ John - I'm learning my Sony camera, and I've also started using the DRO feature (in RAW), very pleased with the results. I guess my thinking is: 'the more data, the better' are there any disadvantages to using DRO?, and what ev setting are you using?. Also, I was wondering, is there any advantage to using JPEG instead of RAW?

  5. @JT : thanks very much re your point about these sliders being camera/ sensor dependent: The files from my 5D mark cannot be pushed quite as far in this respect as those from the 5D mark 2 (the latter turning out higher bit depth files than its predecessor, 14 bit vs 12 bit) : the one to be careful of, of course, is shadow recovery as that is going to increase noise if over-used. There is a limit depending on the effective dynamic range of the camera/ quality of the RAW conversion by Lightroom for the camera model: and without some modest amount of fill flash, pulling up really dark areas won't look good at all. The demo file in the shadow recovery video made use of some fill flash, as mentioned. Highlights-wise, I've been very impressed with what Lightroom can pull back from files produced with both cameras, though of course there is a dramatic cut off point when the dynamic range is exceeded: I have found I can safely over expose by one stop and push that to a stop and a half in some cases.

  6. I discovered Simon's video on "The Photographer's Ephemeris" while watching the reviewed videos. I was going to search for that type of program to go on my Android phone when I get one, but having it on my desktop is even more handy. The other day a customer booked me to shoot five homes for their leasing company. My concern with having such a full day was getting to a property and having to try and make an exterior photo with the sun in just the wrong place. I quickly looked at the sites on GoogleMaps to try and order the shoots so I would not be shooting straight into the sun to get a good angle on the most important RE picture, the front of the home. Using Street View let me see what might be a good angle and now with TPE, I'll be able to estimate the best time to schedule a photography session even if all I will shoot at that time is the exterior. Maybe the more important bit of information might be alerting me what the worst time will be for the prime exterior shot. The program also shows moonrise and set. The best part is that it is free. http://photoephemeris.com

  7. Hi Simon, I have watched the video and find it quite useful as far as Real Estate Photography is concerned. Being a Realtor I too think that photography plays a great role in marketing your listings and if done with some extra effects it would be much more effective. I am surely going to use Highlight/Shadow sliders.

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