Lightroom and ACR: Heal Mode for Highlight Recovery

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  • Updated 7 years ago
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It would be great if "Highlight Recovery" had a heal mode which would attempt to use the context of blown areas to recolour them.

Highlight Recovery seems to be useful in two scenarios:

1. Highlight detail is present but current exposure, tone curve, etc. settings make them appear washed out.

2. At least one colour channel is clipped.

For case 1., it should be sufficient to apply a tonal mapping at the highlight end, perhaps combined with a mask that prevents the effect from spilling over to mid-tone areas. I guess this is how HR currently works. Ideally, it should be the inverse of "Fill Light" (i.e., use a mask) but unfortunately, the results don't look like that.

For case 2., HR should not just pick a neutral grey, but attempt to use colour information from the context to recolour areas for which accurate colour information is lost.

For instance, consider a blown area on skin, due to a specular highlight. Replacing the area with a less bright, but grey area is not a real improvement. It would be great if an optional heal mode would attempt to recreate the skin colour in the blown area.

I could imagine it to work globally, but maybe the HR tool in heal mode needs to be a brush?

I currently only very rarely use the HR slider because it doesn't create satisfactory results when colour channels are clipped and leads to overall flat looking images when they are not clipped. Reducing exposure and tweaking the tone curve often leads to far better results. This is a shame because just using the slider would be a lot quicker.
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TK

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Posted 8 years ago

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Rob Cole

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Thanks TK for bringing this up as a separate topic.

See related thread: Highlight *Detail* Recovery
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Rob Cole

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Post-processing raws is all about taking the limited data that can be (or *was*) recorded, warts and all, and making the best of it. When highlights are blown out, that can make for some pretty nasty-looking and widespread warts. A magic highlight "wart-removal" algorithm would be an awesome addition to Lightroom, in my opinion.

PS - Nobody is suggesting it as a *substitute* for better exposure settings (note how I did not use the word "proper"). But it would make an awesome *supplement* for cameras that can not capture full dynamic range (that's *all* cameras).
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TK

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I'm still not using the recovery slider for the reasons described and because any time it actually bites on highly exposed highlights it has wrecked any light tones below the highlights already.
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Jinn Leong

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I would hope that Lightroom/Photoshop has a function that allows you to recover detail from blown highlights. Not really recover, but somehow approximate. It will be a bit like the content aware but used just for blown highlights.

Here is how I would like it to work - It gets information from pixels around it and information from other nearly blown/partly blown highlights to interpolate a new color that was blown out.

This reply was created from a merged topic originally titled
A better recovery.