The magic of fill light

Lightroom is magic - and as photographers, we've never had it this good.

There you are, after a long day of shooting, and you realise that some of your favourite photos are too contrasty, with parts of the image bathing in darkness. Adobe Lightroom to the rescue...

I was playing around with my brand new Canon EF 100mm f/2.8 macro lens in my kitchen on a rainy day, and was experimenting with a new reflector I was building (it works great, but more about that in another post). Some of the photos that didn't work out so well ended up on my camera, and then on my computer, and then in Adobe Lightroom. I figured I'd see if I couldn't edit one of them into shape a little, and was (re-)astonished by the fantasticness of Lightroom's Fill Light slider.

Starting with this photo:


I started experimenting with various settings. You can crank up the exposure to make the rest of the image brighter, of course, but that would over-expose the already bright highlight on the right of this Hershey's Kiss.

So, by instead adjusting the Fill Light slider:


I was able to recover the shadows remarkably well:


A closer look at the image shows that you do gain a bit of digital noise:


But it's possible to reduce it quite a bit by using Lightroom's rather phenomenal noise filters:


Of course, as always, it's much better to ensure that you get your lighting right when you take the photo; you get less noise, higher quality, and more precise control about what the hell you're doing. And yet, it's rather fantastic to see how photographers are given a lifeline if you balls things up just a little bit too much.

How did we ever survive without Lightroom?

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