This Tutorial Teaches You How to Recover Shadow Detail in Davinci Resolve 14

Woman and man shadowed


Image Recovery

artsmith's picture

 My problem is not generally with shadow detail. It is frequently caused by too much light. I live in New Zealand's South Island in an area well known for the ferocious power of it's sunlight. Worse, part of my time is spent shooting video of bird-life with spectacularly white plumage, which fairly invites blown-out highlights. One solution has been to adopt 'Log' formats and extensively modify tones in-post. It might seem to be the opposite of the 'Meisner' way of doing things, but it does have many similarities, except at the opposite end of the tonal scale.

I shoot with a Panasonic 'Lumix' GH-5 equipped with a re-purposed Tamron 70 to 210mm lens from the 1980's. That lens peaks in it's performance at f8 to f11, and that is the aperture range it is set at, semi-permanently. Aperture control , then has to be by means of a variable Neutral Density Filter. The results of my efforts are the usual insipid greyishness common with 'Log' formats. In Da Vinci 'Resolve 12.5', I use the 'curve' to bring things back to some semblance of order. Usually, to tame the extreme whites it is necessary to slide the top of the curve towards the left, as far as seems necessary for a start. I use, amongst the 'Resolve' scopes, 'Waveform' which duplicates the GH-5's internal viewfinder waveform display quite acceptably. Usually I may pull the lower part of the curve down until the bottom of the waveform is slightly above the lower margin, and likely on the verge of  'crushing'. The aim is to allow the full dynamic range of the camera's sensor to be utilised. Frequently that is not needed and it is necessary to 'play-it-by-ear', in fog for example.

 The interesting thing, is that there is no 'correct' exposure. Spectral highlights may be allowed to intrude just above the 80 percent level where they tend to crowd together using VLog L. Setting the 'zebra' display to 90pc is a good precaution, simply adjust whites until the 'zebra' effect begins to show, then back off a little. If camera panning or tilting is anticipated, be sure to cover the full scope of a shot in the area where it might possibly finish up as well. All of this may seem to have little to do with recovering darks in shots, but my requirement puts that into reverse. I salmost invariably finish up with  more  of a vertical curve than might be expected, with just a hint of 'ess' towards the upper and lower limits. Blown-out highlights in bird-shots have, thankfully, become almost a thing of the past, which I put down to having control over the situation, from even before the time that the video begins to 'roll'.

New Year Greetings, from New Zealand.

Ian Smith