Lightroom: Fill Light lightens the whole image

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  • Problem
  • Updated 6 years ago
  • Not a Problem
  • (Edited)
Fill Light feature seems to Iighten the whole image instead of shadows only. I noticed this when I upgraded to 3.4.1 and I believe it was working better in previous versions (not sure where the problem started though).
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TADEUSZ DRACZ

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Posted 7 years ago

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Victoria Bampton - Lightroom Queen, Champion

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Tadeusz, can you let us know what file type and OS please? And an image or two showing the problem would help too.
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TADEUSZ DRACZ

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File type is RAW (shot on Canon EOS 450D). The OS is Windows 7 64-bit. I can send you an image, but please let me know how - it's 15 Mb in size, so I can't attach it to this reply.
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Andrew Rodney

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Fill isn't designed to lighten shadows only. Try this. move your cursor over the Fill Light slider and examine the Histogram. You should see what area of the tone curve is being affected by such sliders.
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Victoria Bampton - Lightroom Queen, Champion

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Attach a small JPEG showing before and after would probably do the trick.
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TADEUSZ DRACZ

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Andrew - according to the manual it is designed to lighten the shadows only: "Fill Light Lightens shadow to reveal more detail while maintaining blacks."

Victoria - I have attached images. Let me know if that's expected.

Original:



Fill Light 50:



Fill Light 100:

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Andrew Rodney

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Read again what I wrote (Fill doesn't lighten only shadows). Blacks certainly do. Again, view what you are affecting by moving your cursor over Fill and how the histogram highlights. Do the same for Blacks. Also, hover your cursor over the Histogram and watch what sliders become active (you can edit the sliders by dragging within the histogram itself).

Your building is getting lighter in dark quarter tones (not only shadows) with the Fill adjustment. Its doing what it is supposed to do. Look at the person's head in the lower left corner. The darkest areas are in the shadows and I think you'll see that Fill didn't really adjust that too much, but as designed, it did lighten the darker quarter tones.
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Lee Jay

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Looks about right.
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TADEUSZ DRACZ

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I know what it's doing to the histogram and it definitely affects it beyond the shadows area (see screenshots). Also manual doesn't say Fill Light lightens something else apart from shadows. Moreover it says that blacks are preserved which it seems they aren't as you can see on the histogram (blacks are to the left of the highlighted stripe on the histogram). Btw, Blacks function doesn't lighten anything, that just a clipping function (http://help.adobe.com/en_US/Lightroom...)



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Andrew Rodney

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So blacks are not shadows (shadows contain no area that Black affects)?

Call the tones whatever you wish. Bottom line is, Fill is working as designed based on your examples.

Read your original: >Fill Light feature seems to Iighten the whole image instead of shadows only.

No, Fill doesn’t lighten the whole image. Fill lightens whatever you want to call that area it highlights in the Histogram.
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TADEUSZ DRACZ

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All I meant that according to the manual Fill Light should preserve blacks.

Anyway, if that's how it works, I'll stick to Tone Curve modifications. Rough as it was, but thanks for the input.
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Andrew Rodney

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The tone curve and the Fill slider are designed for different needs so be careful here. IMHO, all the curves are for fine tuning. IOW, they are not at all like the curves in Photoshop.
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TADEUSZ DRACZ

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Yeah, I actually do a little bit of Fill Light and a little bit of curve tuning - I seem to be getting close to what I need. Thanks.
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Rob Cole

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Tadeusz, the character of the fill-light changed quite a bit in PV2010. In PV2003 it is far more confined to the darker tones. In PV2010 its affect tapers off the lighter the tones, but essentially does affect the entire tonal range, as you've noticed - its more like a dark-biased brightener. But, PV2010 fill-light is *awesome*, in my opinion. If it brightens the top end too much, just drop the brightness down a little. And you may very well need to up the black point when you use fill.

I often use fill-light in many photos that don't even look like they need or want it, along with up'd blacks, because of the outstanding ability to enhance intra-shadow contrast and generally brighten without overbrightening or compressing mid-tones too much (unlike the tone curve). - its like magic...

My advice: Learn to love the new fill (despite the imperfect documentation).

Final thoughts: I use fill-light liberally and tone-curve sparingly, because the tone curve can not open one area without closing another - but fill light can (it uses some masking / recombining algorithm that I don't understand to do its "magic").

PS - Supposedly, Adobe re-worked the highlight recovery algorithm in PV2010 to be more like fill, and although improved, it does not seem to work as well as the fill, to me. Although one must get used to upping brightness/contrast (if necessary, to compensate) when using highlight recovery, just like one may have to compensate by upping blacks and backing off on the brightness when using fill.
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Andrew Rodney

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Big changes in the two processes. But I wonder if the Histogram outline discussed is valid between the two. They show the same overlay-outline:
http://digitaldog.net/files/Fill.jpg

Yet applying the two processes with the same Fill value, you see a difference in the tonal scale affected. And a much smoother transition of tones (2012 is vastly superior):

http://digitaldog.net/files/fill2.jpg

Look at the differences on the bricks.
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TADEUSZ DRACZ

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Thanks for the great explanation, Rob.
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Rob Cole

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Settings:

No need to increase blacks - just dropping the brightness and adding a touch of clarity seemed to be enough to go with the heavy fill. Could be fine tuned with tone-curve if desired...

Or, if you like it really opened up at the bottom end:

Settings:

Note: Brightness further reduced to compensate for maximum fill. Clarity increased to compensate for effective contrast reduction...

And lastly, how I would finish this, if it were my photo:

Settings:


Summary:
-------------
Because this photo primarily needed fill only in the darkest shadows (and a lot of it), PV2010 fill over-brightened the darks and mids. I compensated for the overbrightened mids by dropping brightness, and further compensated for overbrightened darks, using the tone curve (dropping just the dark tones parametrically). Personally, I find the final result very pleasing - the shadows got sufficient fill without losing contrast in the image as a whole, and required only the simplest tweak to the tone curve and other settings.
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TADEUSZ DRACZ

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Thank you Rob for the great tips. I like Fill Light much better now:)
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Rob Cole

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It took me a while to get used to it too - mostly a matter of expectations, and knowing how to compensate... Enjoy! -R.
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TADEUSZ DRACZ

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Thanks again - that was really helpful.
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Eric Chan, Camera Raw Engineer

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Fill Light lightens everything except pure white. It is weighted towards the shadows, of course. It lightens the shadows the most, and the highlights the least.
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TADEUSZ DRACZ

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Thanks for the explanation.
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Marc Labro

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very interesting method but tricky so i prefer nx2 d-lighting with u-point !!!
even without upoint for local effect, d-lighting doesn't lighten sky like that.
it will be easier when lr will have fill light on local brush...

marc
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Rob Cole

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I think this is where most are going to place their priority list for locals:

http://feedback.photoshop.com/photosh...
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Marc Labro

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Hallo Rob,
how can we have a text report like you with slider values before and after ?
you say lightness 0 to -10. is it relative ? on my pc brightness slider is by default at 50.
what is parametric black -20 ? is it curve panel, fourth slider "tons fonces(dark tones") set from 0 to -20 ?

best regards
marc
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Rob Cole

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Hi Marc,

Change Manager can list differences between two states of the same photo, or two different photos.

ParametricDarks is the internal develop setting name for the second parametric tone curve zone.

I was working from the jpeg that had been posted in this thread, not the raw, that's why the original brightness was zero.

Rob
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Rob Cole

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I can easily imagine an improvement to the fill-light tool - the addition of a weighting slider that determines how much the fill light targets darkest tones versus lighter.

I mean, I often underexpose to capture detail in lights and highlights, but end up with a bottom-heavy starting point (everything too dark especially the darker tones), in which case cranking up brightness washes out those mids and highs I "worked hard" to protect (and/or still leaves the bottom end too dark), but fill-light, as implemented, is just what the doctor ordered. This is why I love PV2010 fill.

On the other hand, sometimes a photo is already nicely exposed overall, but really needs some strong fill light in the darkest reaches (like the initial example in this thread).

So a second slider to shift the balance/weighting would be a nice improvement so user does not have to resort to balancing brightness and/or tone-curve to compensate - just a thought...
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Rob Cole

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I reworked this photo with PV2012 (Lr4b).
Reminder: I'm working from a small jpeg, not a big raw!

Results can be viewed here (first one is 2010, second is 2012):

http://robcole.com/Rob/Personal/Pictu...

In order to make this photo look good in PV2012, I had to:

- Increase exposure a lot.
- Decrease highlights a lot.
- Increase shadows a lot.
- Adjust tone curve to make up for non-optimal tone distribution.
- Increase the vibrance/saturation to make up for lost color.
(No locals required).

Final results: better - deepest shadows opened nicely, and detail discovered in lightest highlights. Dark parts filled nicely, intra-shadow contrast good, overall contrast good. Local contrast enhanced. Color: good.

Work required to get there: more.

Originally, it was:

- fill up a lot (required, but not squirrely - bring up enough to suit...)
- brightness down a little (not critical, not squirrely - adjust to taste)
- darks down a little (not critical, not squirrely - adjust to taste)

The reason more work was required in PV2012 is:

- Basic tone controls are more squirrely, meaning that it is very tricky to balance exposure, highlights, and shadows till it works - multiple iterations required.

It's really hard to gauge how much exposure will be needed, since the optimal amount always massively blows out the top end.

And optimal exposure is critical to being able to balance shadows and highlights for proper midtone relationships.

- Optimal tone unobtainable without tweaking the tone curve.

The reason it's better is:

- Darkest shadows are more open and natural.
- Lightest highlights are recovered without losing pizazz.
- More local contrast without resorting to clarity as much.

Summary and final analysis:
======================
My love/hate relationship to Lr4 continues.
Better results achievable, but more work required.

No doubt after a few months on the learning curve, I'll be more proficient.

Still, this is how it is now, for me...
Rob

So - was this "problem" solved?
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