Workshop – processing and fixing a backlit picture – RawTherapee

A very common problem in photography is a backlit subject, where the subject becomes a dark, not to say black or greyish silhouette.

An example :

Fouga Magister - no image processing

Using “auto levels” in RawTherapee is not an option, the subject only gets darker as the software try’s to fix the complete picture, which in this case is 80% sky.

and trying to make the airplane brighter only using the “exposure compensation” slider gets you a nice over exposed and washed-out picture

but even without using “curves” it is possible to get a good backlit compenstation with the use of the other “exposure” sliders,

activate the “highlight reconstruction” and work your way down the menu, make small adjustments,

bring the background back with “highlight compression” and “highlight compression treshold”

when you think the “exposure compensation” is at its maximum, you can make the subject still brighter with the “lightness” slider, then remove the washed-out look with the “black” slider “and enhance the picture with the contrast” and “saturation” slider.

Should look something like this :

Fouga Magister edited in RawTherapee

The airplane is better but the clouds in the background are almost gone.

Its certainly not bad, but for me the picture misses punch.

Another method of processing pictures that are taken in low-light or backlit is HDR

High Dynamic Range, using this method you can get better exposure for darker and lighter portions in a picture

See next post.


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