RT controlling highlights, differences between various tools

I photograph outdoor scenes and typically under expose to keep detail in the sky/clouds. To massage the scene into typical dynamic range I can sort of use two approaches (there are more)

  1. Use the exposure get the main subject visible and then claw back highlights using:
    a. Highlight Compression
    b. Graduated filter
    c. Color toning (with luminance mask)
    d. Local adjustments (dyn. range compr. or tone equalizer)

  2. Selectively raise all but the brightest tones.

I find that from 1. above only a and b work. c and d result in the flat white area becoming flat, dirt yellow (typically) no detail is recovered. Is this the expected behaviour of non exposure tab tools?

getting permission denied when uploading so words will have to do for now

I’m using a fairly recent self compiled dev build. 2020-07-24-000525_252x16_scrot

That should not happen for you as a long time member. Looking…

Can you give sime more details about this?

I was drag/dropping screenshots which started uploading but it took a bit long and then I got a pop up saying permission denied. Tried converting them to jpg, selecting all three and dragging them all in. One got through but then I had permission denied again.

The files were all screenshots taken with scrot so had a long date/time filename.

Trying again:

Screenshot using local adjustments/dynamic range compression with lowered exposure

The blown sky after raising exposure and before attempting recovery.

The third image failed

Got the following
Perhaps its file size or something as it works for one or two images at a time. Three seems to fail.

Failed again now with two files in one post (including the dialog screenshot). trying as separate post.

Ok worked as single file. This shows sky recovered by graduated filter.

These were all new files. I deleted the previous ones. So its about number or size of files is my guess.

Try “Raw White Points” in Raw tab


Using the white point on the raw tab is highly discouraged to obtain more detail in the highlights.

Have you tried using the Highlights reconstruction > Blend option on the Exposure tab to recover highlights?
Also, if possible, if you could share a raw file others might be able to work their magic and you could learn from their processing.

I am away from the computer at the moment. Thing is that I can work around the issue in various ways but there are advantages to masking that is hard to really solve with other modules.

Im wondering if the masked* modules cant get to the pre exposure data by necessity or if is a bug or oversight. Alternatively if there is a way in say local adjustments to get to the data that I have missed.

Highlight recovery works quite well but has limitations as it cant be masked. Dynamic range compression is also quite good but sometimes looks odd in a way I’ve not managed to get around. Graduated filter has obvious geometric issues unless your scene is a horizon.

* I’m aware the term masked is incorrect but I used it as a shorthand for shape/area control

@agriggio could you chime in regarding the color regions? Does it work on unclipped data if that option is enabled?


Thanks for the tip. At first I couldn’t figure out what option you were referring to but then I though of the “Clip out of gamut colors” at the top of the exposure tab.

It did the trick! The aforementioned tools can now recover highlights blown by other tools. For anyone else looking it’s the checkbox in the following screenshot.


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