The photo below shows a typical example of a landscape photography situation with challenging dynamic range. Taken at ISO100, f/8, and 1/180sec, the multi-pattern (matrix) metering on the Nikon D200 choose to expose the clouds properly but most of the scene below the sky was under exposed. Should I blame Nikon for making such a bad camera? Nope, you may get similar result, if not worse, from just about any camera. Thanks to the camera’s decision not to properly expose the field instead, or I would be left with over exposed sky that I could not fix with post-processing. It is really a easy fix in Nikon Capture NX. Follow the link below the photo to read more.

Dynamic range challenged photo

D-Lighting can be used to reveal details in both shadows and highlights. The nice part of the function is that it won’t touch properly exposed areas or introducing undesired artifacts. In the example here, I will show you how easy it is to bring out more details from the shadows.

  • First, open the image in Capture NX. You can expect better quality from a RAW image than a jpeg image.
  • Second, open the D-Lighting dialog box, Adjust->Light->D-Lighting. A dialog box similar to the following will appear. It is rather straight forward to use the D-Lighting function. Begin by selecting the high speed (HS) or better quality (HQ) mode. In HS mode, the software will allow you to quickly enhance the shadow areas and reveal additional detail in the highlights of the current image with a single adjustment slider, as well as increase the color saturation of the entire image. In HQ mode, the software gives you the option to adjust shadow and highlight separately.
Capture NX D-Lighting HS Options
Capture NX D-Lighting HQ Options
  • Finally, I finished the adjustments by clicking the OK button when I was happy with the result.
After D-Lighting adjustment

The photo already looks a lot nicer compared to the original. Since some people really likes the sky to be deep blue, I used a color control point (Capture NX’s patented U Point technology) to selectively darken the sky.

With additional adjustment to darken the sky.

Since I am a Nikon shooter, I use Capture NX quite a lot. However you should be able to achieve similar results with your favorite photo editors or raw work-flow software, such as Photoshop, Lightroom, etc.

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