No matter where you take photos or what subjects you shoot, eventually you will come up against an image that is destined to be contrasty.  By contrasty, I mean an image that has a big brightness range with areas of high brightness alongside areas of deep darkness.

The human eye makes adjustments continually so even in contrasty situations your eyes see detail quite well.  But a camera is different, it has a limited range of tonal ability and struggles to produce good detail in both the highlighted areas and the darker areas together.  This is good if you are looking to produce a silhouette but not so good if you are looking for good detail in your shot.

It is these types of situations that shooting in RAW can really help.  When you open your image in Photoshop the camera raw converter will open and you can quite easily fix the clipped shadows or blown highlights with the slider controls.

1.  The RECOVERY slider will help to restore blown out highlights and recover detail in the highlight areas.

2.  The FILL LIGHT slider helps to restore detail to clipped shadows and darker areas of the image.

3.  The BLACKS slider helps restore clipped shadow detail.

All this before you even leave the first tab in the camera raw editor.  There are many other controls in your RAW editor that will also help but these three are the basic controls you will use first.

So don’t be afraid of shooting any image you come across, whether that be contrasty, colorful or noisy, you will be able to fix a lot of problems in your camera RAW editor.  This is not to say you shouldn’t get it right when you take the shot in the first place, that is always a better way but the camera RAW controls will help to fine tune those shots your camera has trouble capturing.

Happy shooting!

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