Lightroom Tips

Just How Good is Recovery in Lightroom

First off, I’m at the Photoshop 20th Anniversary Party today, so if you’re coming by the event this evening in San Francisco make sure you catch me and say hi.

This week on DTown TV (the show should be up at some point today – or maybe tomorrow) I talked a little about metering when it comes to snow and I briefly jumped into some post-processing talk about what you can do if you have blown out highlights. Below is an example of a photo I have where the snow is, well, pretty blown out as you can see.

(Click to see a larger version)

When I took this photo I saw a huge portion of my LCD on the camera blinking at me. However, one of the things I’ve learned to do is trust that Lightroom, Camera Raw, and Photoshop are really good at bringing back highlight detail. Now, of course there’s a bunch of things you can do and a bunch of different ways you can blow your highlights to the point of no return. However, take a look at what moving the Recovery slider about 10-15% of the way toward the right will do (the red highlight warning disappears).

(Click to see a larger version)

That’s pretty darn good considering how much was blown out to start with. I’d even tweak the Exposure down a little as the face was kinda bright to begin with. Moral of the story… if you’re in a sticky exposure situation keep in mind that Lightroom and Photoshop give you a lot of wiggle-room in recovering detail in those highlight areas. From my experience, I find I’m much better off overexposing a little (if I can afford the longer shutter speed) and getting the key area of the photo (the face in this example) bright to start with, instead of trying to brighten things after the fact and risk introducing noise into the photo.