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Blown out highlights


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I have a couple of "moody" beach images that were taken against the sun with a wide-angle lens. Consequently, the highlights on the water are almost totally blown out (which was the idea). Once upon a time, Alamy listed blown highlights as a possible reason for QC failure. I don't see this in the submission guidelines any longer, but I'm somewhat hesitant to upload. Has anyone had a failure due to blown highlights in recent times? Thanks.

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Hey John,

I have the same issue sometimes, particularly with reflective objects. My personal view is that if you've got really bright light reflecting off e.g. a shiny metallic object, your own eye with a much larger dynamic range than your camera, probably sees the highlights as being blown out as well. Or if you've got illuminated light bulbs in a picture and the ambient lighting is a bit dark, these are always going to be blown out. So I do generally submit these pictures, possibly after using the adjustment brush to reduce the exposure locally. But I only submit a small number like that so maybe I've been lucky.....?

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1 hour ago, Steve F said:

Hey John,

I have the same issue sometimes, particularly with reflective objects. My personal view is that if you've got really bright light reflecting off e.g. a shiny metallic object, your own eye with a much larger dynamic range than your camera, probably sees the highlights as being blown out as well. Or if you've got illuminated light bulbs in a picture and the ambient lighting is a bit dark, these are always going to be blown out. So I do generally submit these pictures, possibly after using the adjustment brush to reduce the exposure locally. But I only submit a small number like that so maybe I've been lucky.....?

 

If the highlights can't be recovered enough, I sometimes try to clone some details back in. Good to hear that your images have passed QC. The images I'm referring to have very big areas blown out. Chances of them licensing are probably slim, so I don't want to risk my current five-star rating for naught.

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8 hours ago, John Mitchell said:

I have a couple of "moody" beach images that were taken against the sun with a wide-angle lens. Consequently, the highlights on the water are almost totally blown out (which was the idea). Once upon a time, Alamy listed blown highlights as a possible reason for QC failure. I don't see this in the submission guidelines any longer, but I'm somewhat hesitant to upload. Has anyone had a failure due to blown highlights in recent times? Thanks.

I don't know what DSLR's you are using, but I am currently working with NIKON D800's, 16bit NEF, and I have always been able to fix any blown out highlights in LightRoom.

I would also say that image EC7380 is not what I would call "Blown Out Highlights"  Those are called "Highlights."

 

Chuck

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57 minutes ago, David Pimborough said:

 

Want to get rid of blown highlights?

 

Process them in Lightroom and adjust using the highlights and/or the whites adjustment bar.

 

Failing that put them in Lightroom, create a background layer of the image (Background Copy) then select blending "Exclusion" reduce layer opacity to 1% bingo no more blown highlights

 

I'll try the LR thing, wasn't aware of that. But I think we may be talking about situations where the sensor hasn't collected any information so you have areas in the picture where there are blocks of pure colour and there's no additional information to recover.

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Those are specular highlights in John’s picture and there would be no expectation of having any detail in them. As others have said, no worries about submitting pictures with specular highlights. 

 

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Chuck is right, John. You wouldn't have a picture without those water reflections. 

 

I found the Adjustment tool under Image in PS best for lightening a gloomy image without blowing normal highlights. Coincidently, I snapped a similar image of the ferry on the Mersey yesterday.  

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11 hours ago, John Mitchell said:

 

 

Browsing thru my collection, I found this one that I had forgotten about. It passed a number of years ago, so maybe not much to worry about.

 

freighters-and-sailboats-at-anchor-in-en

 

John, I think photo has the proper use of specular highlights...not blown out at all.  Nice shot!

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15 hours ago, John Mitchell said:

I have a couple of "moody" beach images that were taken against the sun with a wide-angle lens. Consequently, the highlights on the water are almost totally blown out (which was the idea). Once upon a time, Alamy listed blown highlights as a possible reason for QC failure. I don't see this in the submission guidelines any longer, but I'm somewhat hesitant to upload. Has anyone had a failure due to blown highlights in recent times? Thanks.

 

My opinion and it is only that is that if the main subject is properly exposed or if it cannot be reasonably expected to 'cram in' the exposure latitude of the image then it is acceptable to have blown out areas. Blown out areas should not be detriment to the overall image though.

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Unless it ruins the image small areas of blown or very bright highlights and indeed totally dead areas of black won't be a problem. It is unreasonable to expect all areas of the image to be within the 0 and 255 ranges of exposure unless the scene itself had very low DR, like an even softly lit room or an overcast sky and a flat subject. You can actually make an image look far worse by trying to make it too technically perfect and Alamy's QC employ enough common sense to work past that. They simply ask that blacks be within a few percentage points of 0 and whites within a few percentage points of 255. 

Edited by Cal
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8 hours ago, Ed Rooney said:

Chuck is right, John. You wouldn't have a picture without those water reflections. 

 

I found the Adjustment tool under Image in PS best for lightening a gloomy image without blowing normal highlights. Coincidently, I snapped a similar image of the ferry on the Mersey yesterday.  

 

Yes, that's right. The specular highlights are what that picture is all about. In hindsight, it wasn't  really the best example to post. I was thinking more of images with large blown-out, pure white areas. Looking through the Alamy collection, I see there are quite a few images that fit that description, so probably not much to worry about. However, unlike Chuck, I don't have NIKON 800's, nor can I do 300 pushups. ;)

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6 hours ago, Sultanpepa said:

 

My opinion and it is only that is that if the main subject is properly exposed or if it cannot be reasonably expected to 'cram in' the exposure latitude of the image then it is acceptable to have blown out areas. Blown out areas should not be detriment to the overall image though.

 

That makes sense.

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  • 1 month later...

Attention, MizBrown!

 

Our transplanted-to-Nicaraga friend mentioned (in some post?) that she was concerned with blowing highlights when she brighten a dark image.

 

I wanted to say this: the best place to brighten an image -- without blowing the highlights -- is in PhotoShop towards the end of an edit. Go to Image > Adjustments > Brightness/Contrast.

 

Edo 

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This probably comes under the category of 'teaching your grandmother to suck eggs' but holding down the Alt key in Lightroom whilst adjusting the exposure* allows you to see clearly when highlights or shadows are blocking out, as do the colour alerts in the histogram view if they are switched on, but that's not quite so obvious. May be the same in modern versions of Photoshop, I don't know. I'd agree that those specular highlights on the waves  are fine of course.

 

* also works for the highlights, shadow, white & black sliders

Edited by Harry Harrison
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It’s best by far to recover highlights in the raw file before converting it and opening in Photoshop, whether that is in Lightroom, ACR other raw converter. 

Edited by MDM
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14 hours ago, Ed Rooney said:

I wanted to say this: the best place to brighten an image -- without blowing the highlights -- is in PhotoShop towards the end of an edit. Go to Image > Adjustments > Brightness/Contrast.

 

Ah, okay, thanks.  I found that at least one of my cameras meters a bit off and plus 0.3 compensation helped. 

 

Checked all my cameras (two a7 original models and the a6000), and I put all of them at the plus 0.3 setting.  Will have to see how that goes over time.

Edited by MizBrown
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Ah, here's my recent snap of the Mersey that's similar to John's. What would this look like without the highlights on the river? There would be no point to it. Alamy QC knows this. They are familiar with all the special photo 'tricks' like selective focus, blur for action, and dramatic highlights. 

 

2BGJEAT.jpg

Edited by Ed Rooney
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2 hours ago, geogphotos said:

What would you do about this?

 

I had an attempt at 'painting it' but just ended up with a murky sky.

 

 

 

I0000RpprXl1xGe8.jpg

Grad filter in LR, use Range Mask set to colour, sample the blue and darken 20 -30%

 

Phil

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6 minutes ago, Phil Crean said:

Grad filter in LR, use Range Mask set to colour, sample the blue and darken 20 -30%

 

Phil

 

Or just use the HSL controls in LR/ACR to darken the blue and increase the saturation in the blue alone.  

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3 minutes ago, MDM said:

 

Or just use the HSL controls in LR/ACR to darken the blue and increase the saturation in the blue alone.  

More than 1 way to skin a cat!!!

 

Only issue with HSL controls is that it affects all the Blue in the image.

 

Phil

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