Avoid Clipping Your Highlights With Adobe Camera Raw

A popular stop for panoramic images is to pre-process them using Adobe Photoshop or Photoshop Elements.  Fortunately both provide access to the Adobe Camera Raw engine which allows for powerful processing of Raw files. As you make adjustments to the developed image, it’s possible to clip data (essentially a loss of detail).

One of the greatest benefits of shooting raw is the ability to rescue details in the Shadows and Highlights.  Here’s how to put the commands to work.

  1. Select all of your Raw files and open them.
  2. Choose an image that is indicative of your full exposure range.
  3. Locate the Histogram in the upper right corner.
  4. In the Histogram display, you’ll see two small triangles. You can click the one on the left for shadows and the one on the right for highlights.
  5. Make adjustments to your image as needed, but keep an eye out for clipping.  When enabled, clipped shadows appear in blue, and clipped highlights appear in red. Highlight clipping will warn you if any one of the three RGB channels is clipped (fully saturated with no detail). Shadow clipping will warn you if all three RGB channels are clipped (black with no detail).
  6. Adjust sliders (especially the Recovery and Fill Light sliders until the proper exposure is achieved (and clipping warnings disappear).
  7. To create a unified exposure click the Select All button in the upper left corner, then click Synchronize and click OK.
  8. You can now click Done to store the Raw processing settings for use in your Photomerged image.

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About Richard Harrington

Richard Harrington is the founder of RHED Pixel, a visual communications company based in Washington, D.C. He is the Publisher of Photofocus and Creative Cloud User as well as an author on Lynda.com. Rich has authored several books including From Still to Motion, Understanding Photoshop, Professional Web Video, and Creating DSLR Video.

Posted on April 29, 2011, in Panoramic, Tutorial and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. What is the difference between using Adobe Camera Raw to do this vs the similarly named controls in Aperture? (And not to start a lightroom vs aperture debate, I’m genuinely wondering if there is a difference in the straight processing of the file, I’m imagining Apple & Adobe have different algorithms).

    • Richard Harrington

      Concept is same. You can see warnings in Aperture when holding down command key and dragging

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