How to find "the right exposure" when "devoloping"


Morten

Link Posted 11/12/2022 - 09:45
When "devoloping" raw pictures I am being troubled in finding the right level on exposure or "lightness".

It often ends up being a job done in the evening with no daylight and when setting exposure as I think it should be on the PC screen I realize next day in daylight that pictures now seems to dark. I have now tried to do the work with as much electric light turned on but still feel unconfident in the process.

Support at a company making photo books told me that setting my PC screen lightness to only 50% would resemble the look of their prints.

To sum up: How do you develop? In full daylight? With PC screen lightness at max or how do you do?

pschlute

Link Posted 11/12/2022 - 12:50
Morten wrote:
When "devoloping" raw pictures I am being troubled in finding the right level on exposure or "lightness".

It often ends up being a job done in the evening with no daylight and when setting exposure as I think it should be on the PC screen I realize next day in daylight that pictures now seems to dark. I have now tried to do the work with as much electric light turned on but still feel unconfident in the process.

Support at a company making photo books told me that setting my PC screen lightness to only 50% would resemble the look of their prints.

To sum up: How do you develop? In full daylight? With PC screen lightness at max or how do you do?

My room for developing is one with subdued lighting, but not dark. It is important that your room lights do not shine directly on the screen. If it is daylight I will close the curtains.

Next step to consider is your monitor brightness. This should be lower than the standard settings, in many cases a lot lower. I have mine set to 90 cd/m2, but I think about 110 cd/m2 is what most resources will recommend. If your monitor controls do not allow you to target these levels you could invest in calibration tools, like x-rite or Spyder. These have both software and hardware elements to them. It will also ensure colour accuracy which may or may not be important to you.

I find these settings give me a finished product image that work for both screen viewing, even in daylight, and also for sending off to a printer.

The advice from your photo book company is probably a good rule of thumb, but of course depends entirely on the brightness range the monitor is capable of. One of the most often heard complaints about people who print for the first time is that their prints are too dark. Invariably this is because their screen is too bright !

Try this. Without adjusting your room lighting or screen, process a raw file to your satisfaction and create a jpeg. Then adjust room lighting and screen brightness, and do it again and make another jpeg. Leave a gap of 24 hours between the two so your eyes become used to the new lower screen brightness. Then post both images here.

The other thing to do when processing raw files is to look at the histogram. It can tell you more about the brightness of an image than your brain can, because the latter is always making unconscious adjustments to what you are seeing.
Peter



My Flickr page
Last Edited by pschlute on 11/12/2022 - 12:52

Helpful

RobL

Link Posted 11/12/2022 - 13:34
Pschlute is right about lowering the screen brightness, and the histogram is your best guide. It depends on the subject but normally aim to push the highlights to just before they get blown, but check you can still see details; a little local adjustment can help. Bring out the details in shadows without making them too light - I find that locally raising the exposure if necessary and then bringing down the black slider keeps them looking contrasty.

Images on paper will often look rather flat compared to the screen view especially on matt paper, lustre and gloss are usually better in this respect. I donít know whether photo book printers allow for this but it may be that saturation, clarity and contrast need boosting a touch.

Morten

Link Posted 11/12/2022 - 15:47
Thanks Peter for your thorough response. I will try out some of your suggestions.

It also made me think of another issue. I use RawTherapee for developing. In the editor image is perhaps like 20% of screen surface while the rest by default is toolbars and the like on completely black background. Should one perhaps better change the black background to some "average grey" to be able to better judge the right lightness of the picture? (I do not know whether it is possible though)

Morten

Link Posted 11/12/2022 - 15:52
Thanks Robl for your comment.

I am quite confident in how to handle the images and use mainly the same tool you mention.

My question was mostly on how to set the overall lightness - and not necessarily for printing as most of my images end being seen on the web.

johnriley

Link Posted 11/12/2022 - 22:26
Every single page of Pentax User has a 16-step stepwedge at the bottom. If you adjust the brightness so you can clearly see all the 16 steps then you won't be far off.

It's very easy to become over-complex, but if we stick with sRGB and a good stepwedge then that should be fine for most web use. And a good IPS monitor of course. Mt preference is for Dell monitors and they work well straight out of the box. I also have some benQ, but find they need their profile adjusting to give a similar reproduction to the Dell.
Best regards, John

pschlute

Link Posted 11/12/2022 - 23:27
Morten wrote:
Thanks Peter for your thorough response. I will try out some of your suggestions.

It also made me think of another issue. I use RawTherapee for developing. In the editor image is perhaps like 20% of screen surface while the rest by default is toolbars and the like on completely black background. Should one perhaps better change the black background to some "average grey" to be able to better judge the right lightness of the picture? (I do not know whether it is possible though)

Interesting. I know of one professional photographer who has his "developing" room walls painted in the middle grey shade for similar reasons.

Adobe Camera Raw and Slikypix Developer Studio Pro, the two raw converters I use, both have the areas outside the image in grey, one of which is a very dark grey. I have never considered this to be distracting, but possibly would if the image size was the smaller dimensions you experience. You should look into the settings to change that. This is what my screen looks like when opening a raw file, and I can make the image itself even larger by using keyboard commands or stretching the image itself.



Peter



My Flickr page

Morten

Link Posted 12/12/2022 - 11:34
johnriley wrote:
Every single page of Pentax User has a 16-step stepwedge at the bottom. If you adjust the brightness so you can clearly see all the 16 steps then you won't be far off.

It's very easy to become over-complex, but if we stick with sRGB and a good stepwedge then that should be fine for most web use. And a good IPS monitor of course. Mt preference is for Dell monitors and they work well straight out of the box. I also have some benQ, but find they need their profile adjusting to give a similar reproduction to the Dell.

Morten

Link Posted 12/12/2022 - 11:36
Thanks - I had not noticed that.

I actually thought of something similar as I recalled that I years ago inspired by Ansel Adams tried to calibrate my black and White developing process to recreate a similar stepwedge
Last Edited by Morten on 12/12/2022 - 11:37

takuman

Link Posted 12/12/2022 - 12:26
Thanks guys, just discovered a new word "stepwedge" Useful?
Just passing thru
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