Saving a Seemingly Doomed Photograph

Have you ever been in this predicament?

You photograph a great scene but don't realize until it is too late that your camera settings were way off?  You have an over-exposed (or under-exposed) image that you are ready to move to the trash.

If you had photographed this image in RAW (a camera setting on most models of digital cameras) your image can be saved!!  The reason you will want to shoot in RAW in most instances is because the RAW file captures all of the image data recorded by the camera's sensor.  A more common format for many simple point and shoot cameras and smart phones is the JPEG. A JPEG actually compresses the information and thus you loose data within that image.  Check your camera settings and when in a situation where you are photographing important images (such as family portraits, landscapes, animals etc), put your camera setting in the RAW format. I normally leave my camera in the RAW format a majority of the time and only switch to a combination of RAW & JPEG when I am taking snapshots of family get-togethers. I like having the option of having the RAW just in case I captured that awesome one of a kind shot but also the JPEGS in case I want to easily email multiple unprocessed images to family members.

Following is an image that I actually purposefully over-exposed for this demonstration (and as part of three exposure HDR...a technique we teach in our workshops) As you can see, it looks like it should be immediately thrown away. The highlights are completely blown out. (the saving grace is that the shadows have great detail)


Blog Photo/Zion Over ExposedBlog Photo/Zion Over ExposedA screen shot of my image in Capture One before I digitally processed it.

This is a screen shot of my image in Capture One before I digitally processed it.


Since I shot this in RAW, I was not too concerned about what could be done in post processing...especially since I use Capture One for my RAW processing. So after making some very minor adjustments with the exposure, contrast, highlight, shadows, clarity and structure, color editing and vignetting my image looked like this:


Blog Photo2 Zion Capture OneBlog Photo2 Zion Capture OneAfter making some initial adjustments in Capture One, this is the resulting image.

After making some initial adjustments in Capture One, this is the resulting image.


At this point, I can continue refining the RAW image with the additional settings and then export and take into onOne's Perfect Photo Suite to finalize the post processing adjustments.


If you feel you have some great images that can benefit from post-processing but you don't have the time or desire to do the work yourself, I do offer commission work.  In my commissions, I will take your image, post-process it and then have it printed on either stretched canvas or aluminum and ship it directly to you. Please inquire about my pricing. If you do have the desire to learn how learn more about post-processing or photographing better images, we have a few different workshops coming up in 2014 that will teach you how to take your images to the next level.


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