Essential Darkroom

SR Pro Plugin v1.1
PC and Mac

 

Introducing the SR Professional 16-bit*- SR Pro v1.1
Plugin.

Taking shadow recovery to the next level

The Shadow Recovery Professional (SR Pro v1.1) Plugin is an essential digital darkroom tool designed for use with all digital camera files. Since highlights are difficult to recover when not exposed properly, I have developed this tool to focus on recovering the hidden shadow detail. A great technique to get an increase in dynamic range for our files is to expose them for the highlights (making sure they don't blow out) and bring back the shadow detail in post-processing. SR Pro replaces lengthy and complicated masking techniques, speeding your workflow and leaving you with very natural and reliable results. This smart plugin will concentrate solely on your shadows, leaving your image's midtones and highlights intact. Also available with SR Pro v1.1 is the reduction of digital noise and shadow contrast during the shadow recovery process. Photographers will find many options and intensities to reduce chroma and/or luma noise.

 

 

Launching the SR Pro Plugin

If Photoshop was open during the SR Pro Plugin installation, close it. Re-open Photoshop and open a new Image. you are ready to load the Plugin. Go to: Menu / Automate / SR Pro
See the illustration below:

 

A) Automated Intensity Levels

You have the option of choosing from Shadow Recovery Level 1 to Level 12. Level 1 will provide the lowest shadow recovery intensity and Level 12 the highest.

There is a perfect threshold level for every photo. Since the SR Pro plugin works with all image files, it offers many levels of intensity. That does not mean that each of the included levels will provide the optimal results you need for all of your images. Actually, I do not recommend using very high intensity levels when striving for natural results. A safe level range for pretty much all photographs is from 1 to around 8.
I personally concentrate from levels 1 to 6 when editing my own files, but understand that sometimes users may need even more intensity, and that is why SR Pro offers the additional levels.

After you choose your desired intensity level, SR Pro will duplicate your file and do its work. Duplicating your file is an important step to protect your original layers. This also provides a safer way to experiment and compare your results side by side.



B) Reduction Type:

Note: SR Pro does not support the "Color + Luma" option under Reduction type when running Photoshop Elements due to limitations in the Elements software.

Reduction type options offer incredible control during the shadow recovery process. After choosing a desired shadow recovery intensity, you can choose from three (3) Reduction Types.

1) Normal: This is the default. It is the setting I recommend when using low ISO files from digital SLR cameras. It will run shadow recovery without applying any shadow noise reduction.

2) Color: Normal is the default setting. If you check mark the "Color" option, the plugin will run the desired shadow recovery level and also reduce Chroma (Color) noise from your shadow areas. Some digital cameras produce color noise in the shadow areas and this option should be used in these situations. Color noise gets worse when shooting at higher ISO speeds. Photographers can choose from two (2) Color reduction intensities: Normal and High.

3) Color + Luma: Normal is the default setting. There are three levels to choose from - Low, Normal or High. When selecting "Color + Luma", the plugin will run the desired shadow recovery level and also reduce chroma and luma noise. This setting is suggested to be used with higher ISO, long exposure files, or when the amount of shadow recovery is too intense. You may see a small loss in image detail when using the high setting.

 

 

C) Add Shadow contrast:

The Add shadow contrast option will add contrast to your photograph without compromising mid-tone and highlight detail. It mainly works on the shadow areas while providing natural mid-tone blending.

Choose from Very low, Low, Medium and High depending on the image needs.

 

 

D) Opacity Tweak:


The Opacity tweak option is a powerful and flexible option included with SR Pro. It allows selection of any intensity level by checking the Opacity Tweak option. This will duplicate your original file, run the selected intensity level and bring the resulting image back to the original file on its own layer. You will then have the option to work on the Layer palette and tweak the opacity slider. As you move the slider from 100% to your desired percentage level (78% in the below example), you will see the results changing on your image.

The default intensity is 100%. That means that if you have chosen Level 5 for example, 100% of Level 5 will be accomplished. When moving the Opacity level slider, you can precisely control the correct shadow recovery you need by moving from 100% to the percentage you want.

 

Again, as you move the opacity slider you will notice visible changes on screen.

EXAMPLE: If you run the plugin for level 3 with "Opacity Tweak" checked, then move the slider to 50%, you will be getting exactly half the selected intensity (In other words, level 1.5).

 

After you decide on the Opacity percentage, you can flatten your file and save it.

 

 


The SR Pro Plugin was used in the following examples below:

Original resized (Before SR Pro)

After SR Pro

Notice how only the shadows are affected in the above example. You can now see more detail and color. In fact, this image could be pushed even further. Notice that the highlights remain untouched.

Complicated masking is now easily achieved with just the push of a button, thanks to the SR Professional Plugin.

 

Original resized (Before SR Pro)

Resulting Image (SR Pro Level 9)

In the above sample, notice that only the shadows were changed. That is the beauty of SR Pro: Bringing shadow detail while keeping your photographs looking natural. (No complicated masking technique required)

 

Original resized (Before SR Pro)

Resulting Image (SR Pro Level 5 with Tweak)

SR works very well for portrait and wedding photography as well. You can see shadow detail you didn't even know was there before! As you can see, the results are natural looking and your highlights and midtones are preserved.