More Luminosity Blending Magic

One more on using a B&W image blended with a color image. This follows in the footsteps of yesterday’s post and illustrates dramatic highlight and shadow recovery.

 Shadow (& Highlight) Recovery



(AND – no HDR is required)

El Capitan Reflections

Merced River, Yosemite National Park


Technical – Nikon D70s, Tokina 12-24 f/4 @ 12mm, 1/5 sec,  f/22, EV=-1.33, ISO200, WB=cloudy, multi-segment metering, aperture priority, RAW capture, circular polarizer, tripod

  • Sun low in sky had most of this scene in shadows
  • Used the widest lens I had  to force “both” El Capitan’s into the frame
  • Circular polarizer to “fine-tune” the reflections
  • Sky isn’t done well here; could be much better but didn’t have the time for this post
  • RAW is essential    because of the several stops of extra dynamic range it provides
    • this means more shadow & highlight detail is possible than with JPEG or TIFF
    • & once that detail is gone because you failed to shoot RAW, it’s gone forever


  • Wandered the river bank & did what I could
  • It is what it was
  • My main goal & challenge was to fit that big rock – and its reflection – all into the frame; 12mm just barely did it


1. RAW conversion in Capture NX2; the critical 1st step in shadow recovery

1a. Adjusted the exposure (RAW) to move the histogram from the left (dark) to the right as far as possible without messing up the highlights (on EC’s sunlit face)

1b. Used NX’s D-Lighting shadow/highlight recovery to recover as much detail as possible

1c. If there had been smooth dark areas in the image, noise reduction may have been needed at about this point; I did none

2. Tonal & color contrast adjustments in Color Efex Pro 4 using my custom designed recipe for basic image post processing

  Step-by-step detailed illustration in this post

2a. The Tonal Contrast & Detail Extractor filters of the above step-by-step were important components in aiding the detail recovery

3. B&W conversion in Silver Efex Pro 2

3a. This step was solely to get a B&W version for use in step 4

3b. SEP2’s default conversion does not change the image’s luminosity. If you use this as your B&W conversion you will see NO difference in the final result after doing step 4. You must change luminosity.

4. Blended #2 & #3 in Photoshop using Luminosity Blend at about 60%

4a. I try this with most images because, used judiciously, it often brings out beneficial details & colors that I can’t achieve otherwise

Step 1………………Step 2

Step 3…………….Step 4

Click to enlarge

The shadow/highlight recovery from 1 to 4 is considerable

especially the face of EC washed out by the sun

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