This is also a good example of the highlight protection with Active D-Lighting that I mentioned here. In this situation with a large portion of the frame being dark and in the shade, I underexposed by one stop, used f/11 for sufficient depth of field, and had the camera in Aperture priority (with Active D-Lighting on High, as usual) do the rest. The resulting exposure, when imported into Lightroom and interpreted with the "Camera Neutral v4" profile looks like this:
|Original Exposure, ISO200, f/11, 1/15s @ 24mm, polarizer|
Clarity in Lightroom 4 has much more punch and brings back the detail on the rocks and in the shadows, just were in needed them. This is something that was previously impossible to achieve with Lightroom, and would require some sort of tone-mapping, like using Color Efex' Tonal Contrast or Detail Extractor filters (I wrote about it before in this article).
Because the very strong adjustments left the image a bit dull looking, I increased Vibrance to compensate for the lack of lifeliness.
Other than the adjustments in the Basic panel, I applied a local adjustment (brush) in the dark lower area, dodging it by 0.39 and adding yet more Clarity - it really works miracles in the shadows and lights, bringing back structure and detail. No other adjustments have been made - I didn't even touch the Tone Curve (where I sometimes used a self-defined parametric curve to increase the Darks and Shadows in Lightroom 3 for this kind of scene).
Here's what the final image looks like - a very HDR-like look, created with Lightroom alone, from a single exposure. I have no doubt that the large and clean D700 pixels make it possible to recover so much shadow detail with relatively little noise, but it illustrates the possibilities and the dynamic range that can be captured in a single raw file quite nicely. ;)
|Final image with adjustments.|
You can switch back and forth between the original and the finalized image in the lightbox (click on the photo).