Use these three Lightroom techniques to save your blown-out photos
Whether it’s a mistake or a consequence of circumstances, it happens that we end up with blown-out highlights in photos. But if you shoot RAW, it’s possible to fix them. In fact, there are several ways to do it, and in this video from Adorama TV, Pye Jirsa will show you three of them to use in Lightroom and make your photos perfect.
Before we begin, you can download the exercise file if you’d like to follow along. Of course, you can also use a photo of your own. And remember, it’s important that it’s shot in raw as it will give you way more room to work with. Pye started with adjusting the white balance to get the skin tones right and only then proceeded to fix those blown-out highlights. It’s also worth noting that you can use only one of these techniques, or combine them, depending on your photo.
#1 Matte finish
The first technique requires you to use Curves. Make sure to select Point Curve, pull the White side down, and pull the Black side up. Don’t overdo it because you don’t want the image to look washed out – somewhere between 5 and 10 should work just fine. And then, add the midtone contrast. Pull some of the highlights back up, and the shadows back down. Once again, don’t overdo it. Keep the curve subtle so you don’t end up with posterization.
#2 HDR + HSL
This technique combines HDR (high dynamic range) with HSL (Hue, Saturation, Luminosity) adjustments. Start by creating a virtual copy (CTRL/CMD + ‘). Start by adjusting Black, Whites, Shadows, and Highlights. Pull your Blacks up and your Whites down a bit, and then add some contrast by pulling Highlights up and Shadows down. This tends to change colors a bit, so this is why you should use the HSL adjustments next. Click on the point adjustment tool within the HSL panel and adjust the colors so they look natural again.
#3 Selections + local adjustments
This is the technique that gives you a lot of control over the areas you want to adjust. The latest version of Lightroom allows you to go to the Masking tool and press Select Subject. It works pretty well from my experience, and it is a massive time saver. Still, if you’re not pleased with it or you haven’t updated Lightroom, you can mask your subject out with the Brush tool.
Anyways, when your subject is selected, don’t just raise exposure as it will create a very unrealistic look. instead, control the subject’s exposure through highlights and the white point. This way you essentially apply the same HDR adjustments as in the previous technique, but you limit them to a specific area of the photo.
In the video, you can see how different techniques and their combinations turned out for Pye. he also shows you why you shouldn’t do some things that he mentioned, like raising exposure only when adjusting the subject. The end result is pretty stunning considering what he started with. So, remember – rely on the power of RAW and apply any (or all) of these techniques if you blow out the highlights.
[3 Easy Steps to Fix a Blown Out Image | Master Your Craft | Adorama TV]
Dunja Djudjic is a multi-talented artist based in Novi Sad, Serbia. With 15 years of experience as a photographer, she specializes in capturing the beauty of nature, travel, and fine art. In addition to her photography, Dunja also expresses her creativity through writing, embroidery, and jewelry making.