Tuesday, 25 March 2014

Recovering Lost Detail in Dark Areas of a Photo

Disappointed By Lose of Detail 

Recently, I was playing with long exposure shots on a rocky beach near where I live. One of the photos had great potential but it was dark and the darker areas had no detail in them at all. I liked the photo but it really lacked detail and it really had no vibrancy. I decide to have a play with it.

Original Photo-Long exposure of Rocks
Original Photo

There was a load of detail captured in every shot that just needs to be enhanced. This is the process I used to recover the lost detail in the dark areas of this photo using a piece of software called Intensify Pro. 

The Process

After opening the RAW image in Intensify Pro I adjusted the Exposure, Contrast and Shadows on layer 0 in the Basic Tune area. I lifted the shadows quite a bit at this stage.


Basic Adjustments on Layer 0 Screen shot
Basic Adjustments on Layer 0
I then added a new layer and created a mask on the areas I wanted to work on in more detail.

Mask on New Layer Screen shot
Mask on New Layer
On this mask I've increased the Exposure, warmed it up a little with Temperature Adjustment, Increased the Vibrance and I've increased the Pro Contrast Adjustment in the Shadows. 

Adjustments to the Mask Layer Screen Shot
Adjustments to the Mask Layer
 I then wanted to created a bit of mood so I added a Gradient Mask to the sky area, on a new layer.

Sky Gradient Screen Shot
Sky Gradient

I made a few adjustments to the Exposure, Vibrance, Pro Contrast (Highlights and Mid Tones) as well as Structure (Global Midtones)

Sky Gradient Adjustments Screen Shot
Sky Gradient Adjustments
Up until now I have been making manual adjustments but Intensify Pro has a lot of really good Presets and at this point I applied one of my favorites called Pro Quality to a new Layer. This just sharpens the image and adds a little depth.

Pro Contrast Preset Screen Shot
Pro Contrast Preset
 Just for fun I added another Layer with a Mask on the sky and made some adjustments to the Pro Contrast area.

Some Tweaks to the Sky Screen Shot
Some Tweaks to the Sky

From here I exported the image to SnapHeal, which is another app/add-on to Intensify Pro to straighten up the horizon and to deal to a few hot pixels. Hot pixels can show up with long exposure shots.

This is the final result.

The Final Result Photo
The Final Result

Original Photo
Original Photo
You can see the photo has been transformed and it only took me about 20 minutes using Intensify Pro. One of the things I really like about this software is you can adjust the opacity of each layer independently. On this photo I decided to lessen the effect on the rocks mask so I decreased the Opacity of Layer 1 to 43%.

I've pushed this image pretty hard to demonstrate my point but how much or how little adjustment you make are entirely up to you and the look you're trying to achieve.


Layer 1 Opacity Screen Shot
Layer 1 Opacity



I really like Intensify Pro, it is very easy to use and it can make an enormous difference to your photos, it can be run both as a standalone app or as a plug-in for Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Photoshop Lightroom, Photoshop Elements and Apple Aperture.

Form more information and a free 14 day free trial click here

Happy Shooting
John Barrow - E-Star TV  


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