Case Study: Backlighting

David Ellis supplied me with a promising, yet highly challenging RAW file with direction to process into a tonally balanced image avoiding a “cut out” look. I was provided a rough JPG for reference with instructions on how to change lighting direction. See below:

Unprocessed RAW file

Reference & Direction

I processed the RAW image twice—First for foreground tonality and second for background tonality. Then I carefully blended these two layers, painted in highlight and shadow to create directional lighting of the subject. Finally, I recovered the color of various elements that changed during the editing process so the image matched the colors in the original scene. See below for final image:


Have you got a great shot living in a challenging RAW file? I love those kinds of tasks.

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