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How to Get the Most Out of a Single RAW file

Posted by
Don Smith (California, United States) on 28 December 2011 in Landscape & Rural.


3rd Annual Magic Light, Moonlight, and Pfeiffer Beach Arch Big Sur Winter Workshop - January 8-11, 2012 (Hurry, only 1 spot left)
5th Annual Springtime and Moonlight in Big Sur and the Monterey Peninsula - March 7-10, 2012 (8 spots left)
4th Annual Northern Arizona Workshop: Grand Canyon, Antelope Canyon, Horseshoe Bend and Sedona - April 23-27, 2012 (2 spots left)
iPhone Photo Workshop in Carmel and the Big Sur Coast - May 4-6, 2012 (just added)
3rd Annual Kauai Workshop - Garden Isle and Tropical Paradise - June 22-26, 2012 (6 spots left)
4th Annual Summer Big Sur Workshop - Mystical Fog and Colorful Headlands - August 21-24, 2012 (space available)
1st Annual Fall in the Grand Tetons and Yellowstone National Park - Fall Color, Mountain Grandeur, and Volcanic Forces - Deluxe Photo Workshop - September 24-28, 2012 (Workshop Sold Out)
4th Annual Arches/Canyonlands Photo Workshop - Moon Over Red Rock, Arches, and Canyons - October 27-31 2012 (Just Added).
2nd Annual Bryce/Zion Photo Workshop - Bryce Canyon Hoodoos and Zion Fall Color - - November 1-5, 2012 (Just Added).

High Dynamic Range software (HDR) is great and certainly has its place in our modern-day digital world. Yet, its one drawback is that there is no way for the software to intelligently match movement over a series of bracketed frames. Thus, as these swells marched towards this deserted stretch of beach, I could not come up with a usable file that looked realistic enough to satisfy me.

I next tired blending the bracketed images via Layers and Masks in Photoshop, but the foreground Cypress with its multitude of branches made that task nearly impossible.

Thus, I opted to work with one file, captured in RAW of course. I nulled all my settings in my RAW processor and set my white and black points via the Point Curve only. I then massaged the quarter-tones of the file with the help of Nik CEP-4 Pro Contrast using the Dynamic Contrast preset and applied a few tweaks with the sliders. Viola'! Detail throughout the image, from the shadowed side of the tree through the setting sun!

There is so much information in a single RAW file - more than most of us know. With the help of Nik Software, you can reveal every ounce of usable tonality and color in your files - it will amaze you!

Please use my code DSMITH when ordering any of the fine Nik products and receive a 15% discount off your purchase.

Canon EOS-1Ds Mark III 1/40 second F/22.0 ISO 100 24 mm

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