Carlo Ch 9:26am, 16 March 2007
This topic is to show one's images before and after processing with Lightzone.

Please post in your comment a medium-sized reference to the shot before and after. Please also add some comments on the techniques used.
Carlo Ch Posted 11 years ago. Edited by Carlo Ch (member) 11 years ago
I am providing here a first example for this thread, a case of rather invasive processing.

The original shot (not taken by me, but by a friend with no experience with my D200) has many defects: it's tilted, it's badly framed (because of the fixed 50 1.4), it has badly burnt highlights (see the hands). OTOH this the only shot of that particular day...


For the processed image I opted for a vintage look: contrast is very high (using zonemapper) to intensify and dramatize the expressions, it's square-cropped and rotated so to focus on faces only. I also added a "Lomo" effect, using a circular region to add progressive blur and vignetting from the center. Vignetting and blur somehow hide the badly burnt highlights.

Toast for Dad coming back home from the hospital

In spite of the heavy processing, I think the resulting Image Quality is still fine. I suggest seeing it at full size.
Great idea :D when I get more bandwidth next month I'll add more :D
KLAUS IT Posted 11 years ago. Edited by KLAUS IT (member) 11 years ago

I liked the motive of this picture, but it came out quite dull.
This is a try to make it a bit more expressive.

ambient troutmask Posted 11 years ago. Edited by ambient troutmask (member) 11 years ago
I posted this in another discussion...then saw this one which seems appropriate.
Expose for the shadows, develop for the highlights. Despite the common misconception that this should be reversed for digital capture it still holds good for me. Allowing the highlights to clip in order to preserve detail in the shadows is my usual technique. An example is this imageoriginal-1 (by troutmask)

It was getting quite dark when I took this. I spot metered on a rock in the foreground and gave it another stop of exposure. The histogram on the camera showed the sky as overexposed.
Using LightROOM to recover the highlights and then Lightzone for further selective processing I got this
Snowdonia (by troutmask)
Which matches my pre visualisation of the scene. Exposing for the highlights would have left me with a great deal of noise (this was shot at 800 ISO) in the shadow detail (if there was any shadow detail).
Lightzone is the first processing tool for digital that seems to work naturally with traditional zone exposures; which I think is what I like about it so much. I can almost know exactly what I will do in Lightzone when I look at a scene through the viewfinder rather than deciding only when I have opened the actual file.
Carlo Ch Posted 11 years ago. Edited by Carlo Ch (member) 11 years ago
This is a great image, I wish I had your understanding of exposure. I think here you succeeded in getting the right exposure, as there is just enough detail left in the sky. I'm using LightRoom too along with LightZone, and I prefer LightRoom's conversion, as it leaves you many more options to play with. OTOH in the presence of noise LightRoom's conversions tend to introduce artifacts I don't like at all, looking like vertical and horizontal lines.
Franck Yvonnet 11 years ago
le Petit Ailly (color)

I always expose to the right to keep as much details as possible from both the shadow and the highlights. I shoot at 100 ISO most of the time even if it means walking with a tripod on my shoulder.

For this picture I first used the ToneMapper to bring back details out of the sky. Then I added two ZoneMapper layers to get the desired density and contrast. Finally I darkened a bit the top of the sky.

le Petit Ailly
Yep that works in my workflow, its kinda annoying in some ways.... and compatibility issues sorta crop up...
I can't open the TIF's from LightZone in Gimp but the ones from Bibble I can???
SO my final write from Lightzone is currently JPEG at 100% quality but still 8bit... which is damned annoying..
Also like the example abive Lightzone doesn't seem to be able to handle the white balance I needed to get rid of the B&W yellow filter...
Carlos, sorry missed the question....
Yes, I had the tripod out and took 3-4 before with only a polariser then added a ND8... and shot 3 more then added the yellow....
After jiggling about in bibble I got rid of the yellow and it pulled out more constast in the clouds...
I have the simple polarised one in my stream if you wanna look...
(there should be 4 images in the thread.... is this correct.. ??) some are friends only BUT I think adding them to a group allows members to see them???
Carlo Ch Posted 11 years ago. Edited by Carlo Ch (member) 11 years ago
@Paris Steve

When you add non public photos to a group they remain visible to members of the group, it's fine like that. I tried once using color filters on my D70, but I found the results very disappointing. The only filters I'm using now are a polarizer and a light blue one to correct tungsten (and so decrease noise in the blue channel). I'd love to have a B&W only DSLR to use filters with...

@Franck Yvonnet

Fantastic B&W. This is an area where I think LightZone really excels. Just using ToneMapper and ZoneMapper and regions I get better results than with Photoshop.


Nice processing, it turns a rather dull photo into something interesting, with a sweet melancholic touch. I'd probably keep a larger B&W area around the person.
Carlo Ch 11 years ago
This is the first image I processed with LightZone, and the one that convinced me of the program's potential. It's my first attempt at burning and dodging, something I had tried in Photoshop but found too cumbersome to do creatively.

The original is rather dull, but the light was good so I could shoot using an appropriate aperture even without tripod.


The processed image has 5 regions, each with a different ZoneMapper setting so to locally increase the contrast and adjust the tones. I think it's far more interesting than the original. Seeing this picture some months later I think I overdid something. In the beginning it's easy to have a heavy hand.

Malcesine (best seen large)
Carlo.... I found them fun.... and in your photo ^ I bet a ND8 would have actually got you a better dynamic range to start with... just my 2c but I only stumbled across this technique by accident...I ws thinking to do a B&W and then thought hmmm.. wonder if I can get it on color without the cast?

Wne I did I was pretty astounded at the results!
Carlo Ch 11 years ago
Steve, do you mean a standard ND8 filter or a graduated one? As far as I understand, using a Neutral Density filter does not change the dynamic range.
Carlo it shifts the stuff into the right part of the histogram where more info is stored... for the same aperture setting... so it increases dyanamic range in a way because of the way digital information is stored.... each division holds 2x the info of the last...
This is one of the strenghs of lighzone that it gives you this in a linearfashion (according to their website)...
This is why (I think) I pulled out so much range in the sky in Lightzone over bibble because its in the top 25% of the data where 90% of the information is kept...

Obviously a grad filter would be perfect though :D
Carlo Ch 11 years ago
Could you provide me some link to this technique? Thanks.
The Lightzone website has a whole "advertsing" but still informative page or two... about HOW the data is recorded.
If you read the Lightzone stuff then come back....

...OK post reading how its stored...
Your limits on a digital photo are two endpoints... from no light on a sensor to over exposed (blowout)... in reality and because the universe is stranger than first appearances no light doesn't happen. If you want to know why google single photon diffraction. If you can explain it good luck.. :D so lets move on.

The top point of the exposure is blowout or a hairs breadth underneath but lots of photo's (like yours) this means that because of a bright area and because the actual detail is in shadows most of the detail ends up in the bottom 50%...

When you put a pair of sunglasses on the camera (ND filter) you filter out the brightest light and that maximum just before blowout becomes closer to the lighter parts of the rest. If you imagine a rubber band pinned at both ends what you are doing is stretching from one spot towards the lighter end (because the same photo will have a slower shutter or larger exposure with the filter on) ... thus the parts on the darker side get bumped into a range which has more information stored.

On top of this I also found the yellow filter selectively filters out the higher frequency light which tends to be the sky.
This shifts everything even further but unless you use a stronger color temp correction or intend B&W it leaves a yellow cast.
tf5_bassist 11 years ago
Here's a live concert shot I took... Colors a bit muted, that green Warwick bass is seriously vibrant in real life...

Garz, pre-edit

Here's the lightzone edit...

Garz, Save And Continue

Fixed white balance, brought down some over-exposed areas, fixed his tat to be more accurate and bright, brought the bass up to JUST past it's natural intensity for some extra pop, and adjusted brightness and colors here and there.

Not overdone, looks pretty natural to me. :D
Carlo Ch Posted 11 years ago. Edited by Carlo Ch (member) 11 years ago
Nice processing, tf5, I agree it's not overdone. I often found myself using regions to blur burnt highlights and get a smoother transition to pure white. It can be rather subtle, like here:


Apart from a slight rotation, white balance and some levels tweaking, all the lights and reflections are surrounded by blurred regions. I think it's less distracting like that.

Venice night lights
Carlo Ch Posted 11 years ago. Edited by Carlo Ch (member) 11 years ago
Here is one of my more complex processing up to date. Apart from cropping and rotating, B&W conversion is carried on using two different filters on the same region: a red one for the sea and sky, and a blue one to preserve highlights and detail in the ship area. It took some time and experiment before getting it done properly. Some area in the foreground are also less dark than in the original.


This is the result:

Late evening in Gaeta

This is the same processing, with split toning to simulate selenium, using the templates proposed here :

Late evening in Gaeta (selenium)

I think I prefer the last one, the split toning seems to add extra depth to the seascape.
Carlo.... can't see the second piccy :D (add it to the group perhaps?)
Carlo Ch 11 years ago
I fixed it. Sometimes when you replace an image, Flickr changes the ID for the larger size. Here it is... PRO 11 years ago
the split toning is amazing! great job!
Carlo Ch 11 years ago
I applied the selenium template I found here as is. I agree the result is impressive. I'm considering toning some of my older images, but before that I'm going to try printing this image. The results from my Epson 2400 in native B&W are already so fine, and toning means going back to color. I've mixed feelings about that.
Introducing myself with this post to the group, I first want to thank Carlo Ch for "finding me".

I am using lightzone 2.4 under linux and besides the incredible zonemapper I do enjoy the region editing very much. This alone makes me prefer lightzone over bibble.

My picture "waiting for the thunderstorm" was made up with low-invasive processing, just enhancing what was there already.

The steps were
- decreasing exposure by 0.56 to compensate for "expose right"
- deepening the shadows with a zonemapper
- increased vibrance
- enhanced details via tonemapper, shadows and highlights at 1
- darkened and contrast enhanced sky region (I used a big region way ver the upper border of the image and a big transition zone)
- cloned out dust in the sky (not easy in 2.4, I would like a smear tool)
- standard sharpening

The way it turned out is pretty much according to my remembrance of this scenery.
Carlo Ch 11 years ago
Very nice springm, it's not overdone and the improvement is subtle and captivating. I like the way you made the sky more interesting.

Here's one recent from me, I like night long exposures.


The Adige dam in Verona

Apart from square cropping and B&W conversion, I gave different treament to the sky and the water, to highlight the detail in them. I then applied a selenium toning, which usually works fine in landscapes. Seeing it now, I feel the bridge itself needs more work to reveal the detail visible in the color version.
Carlo, this is a calling for me to take out my tripod again and more often.

I do enjoy very much your selenium toning and the fine details now visible in sky and water. You are right, the bridge would deserve some detail tuning, but I would re-consider the framing, too: The wall in the lower right corner should (for my feeling) remain in the picture, as it adds to the feeling of three-dimensionality. I would only crop out the small details at the foot of this wall

Regards - Markus
Carlo Ch 11 years ago
Good feedback, Markus. You mean something like this?

Yes, that works better for me. To be nit-picking, I would crop the right margin so that only the left bicycle is left fully visible. For me that adds a sense of loneliness, because the wheel of the 2nd bike would suggest that there are many of them.

Regards - Markus
Carlo Ch 11 years ago
Like this? There's only one bicycle now, and I locally increased the contrast to highlight it. The dynamic range is however insufficient. I am going to try again with negative film, to see if it really has better DR than digital.

Yes, could imagine this as the best possible crop and highlighting the bike is a very good idea. Regarding lacking DR this is probably more prominent in a larger format, where your eyes can wander and try to recognize details in the shadows.
A digital alternative to film could be to have 3 or even more different exposures and blending them in gimp, photoshop or the like - with a static subject this shoud work really well.

Over all this is a very good picture

Regards - Markus
NetDep PRO 11 years ago
Was just reading about LightZone after I got my new little black MacBook -- and found this thread through your admin....Thanks Carlo!!!

The before of this shot was edited (lightly) with Picasa (On XP) and the after with LightZone...still on top....I downloaded the trial for thirty days and so far I like it...


Carlo Ch 11 years ago
Welcome to the group, NetDep. One can do some very fine tuning with Lightzone, and your example shows it quite well.
.debbie T 11 years ago
Hello, don't know if anyone is still posting here, but I wanted to share a photo edited in Lightzone, using a Dreamy/Orton effect. Found a mini tutorial here:


Orton Effect
disillusioned snails [deleted] Posted 11 years ago. Edited by disillusioned snails (member) 11 years ago
The original image was a RAW file.
deel 1
The black and white tool was used to convert the image to B&W.
deel 2
9 layers of ZoneMappers were used, all with selective regions, to burn and dodge the final image.
Stone factory
Carlo Ch 11 years ago
@disdatmac (debbie T): Gorgeous result, it's a technique I never tried. I think I must try too.

@wrtb28mm: The difference between the original and the final image are striking. Nine layers are a lot of work, but the result is well worth it.
Carlo Ch 11 years ago
Before, shot on Fuji PRO400H, the negative's been damaged by the lab, with a lot of dust:



The Path of Purification

It's been cropped, converted to B&W using an orange filtration, local contrast, one zone mapper for the lower area and one for the upper one, many cloned area to remove the dust.
.debbie T 11 years ago
Wow, this is gorgeous Carlo.

Here is one I did today. I don't have the original uploaded, but it was pretty flat and dull. It was also very dark.

I am still learning Lightzone, but so far, I find it to be a wonderful tool. I love using it

Snowy Ipswich River
.debbie T 10 years ago
Here is one more Lightzone edit. A little of an Orton effect, and some color correction. The more I use Lightzone, the more I really love it.

Happy New Year!
Carlo Ch 10 years ago
Very nice with Orton. I tried using it, but the effect is maybe too strong, and you have to adjust all the components of this effect. I think a missing feature in LightZone is to treat a set of controls as a single unit, so to increase or weaken its effect with a single action.
Robert Yanal PRO 10 years ago
I like the shot a lot.
mistdog PRO 10 years ago
39° South

39° South
SIngraham PRO 10 years ago
before: (actually processed in Lightroom)

railroad out of dawn

after: style dark scene, relight with added detail, sharpen, hue saturation with added vibrance, hue saturation with color selection light blue added vibrance reduced luminosity.

Rails into dawn...2
Robert Yanal PRO 10 years ago
Outside Oravalo, Ecuador. Before

Otavalo - 08

After Lightzone. Three regions (group of buildings on left, on right, trees/mountain center). Each region darkened to bring out details. Then Wow! style applied. Cropped.

Near Otavalo, Ecuador
ImageThe first time I got a sky like this - quite similar to what I know from prints of scottish seascapes. A700 was set on a tripod, in front of the Tamron 11-18 I used a chinese replica of a cokin nd grad and later on heavily massaged the raw file in lightzone. Exposing to the right, the raw file was really bland, so without setting a new black point it would have been bleak and colorless. See the thumbnail from the raw here for comparison: Image

To obtain this result the following steps were done in lightzone:

Step by step:Opening in lightzone, the raw file looks like this:ImageNote that despite of all settings to normal it already looks darker then the thumbnail which was extracted from the raw file itself and which reflects the DRO- settings of the A700.ImageIn the next step the sky is carefully darkened. Note the dotted line that indicates a lightzone region, and the feather zone between the outer and inner linesImageNow the saturation is increased in two consecutive, identical steps. I tried two steps as I had the feeling that doing it in one large step results in clipping, but I still have to do some test to prove this theory. Anyway, the result is pleasingImageA first 'relight' step creates more differentiation in the highlights and works out the details. opening the shadows is substantially reduced from the default, in the sky I want the dark areas to remain dark.ImageThe second 'relight' step opens up the shadows in the hills a tiny bit and differentiates the structures in the meadows. Again a lightzone region is used to restrict the effect to the land.ImageThe spot tool finalizes the treatment of the image by removing a dark blotch in the sky. Local contrast enhancement by large radius/small strength unsharp masking and two separate sharpening steps for dark and light areas makes the image ready for conversion to jpeg. All those steps are saved without change to the raw file in a lightzone jpeg file with contains the recipes as jpeg comments. That's it.
Carlo Ch Posted 10 years ago. Edited by Carlo Ch (member) 9 years ago

Square crop, +1 exposure, B&W conversion, contrast to increase to highliht the faces, a blur region for the distracting background. Blur is to be applied only in low noise pictures like this one, or it will be revealed by the difference in grain itself.

Three in a row
aj1575 Posted 9 years ago. Edited by aj1575 (member) 9 years ago
Flower (PP with Lightzone)

I just tried to get more details in the flower, and make the rest less interesting. First I made the background darker with the zone mapper and the clone tool for one area. Then I gave the Flower more contrast also with the zone mapper, after that I had to adjust the color of it. At the end i darkened the green leafs a little.

Vijesh C 9 years ago
Played around with Lightzone a bit.. Gaussian Blur, Saturation, Masks Zonemapper, etc
London Pic Original by Vijesh C

Lightzone Edited Image by Vijesh C
Briman4031 9 years ago
Lightzone saved me on this one. Over exposed shot and I never thought I'd get anything out this photo. Zone mapper worked wonders. My sister was delighted with the artistic style we got out of this one.
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