Tonal Range and Dynamic Range: That's the Difference

Rango tonal y rango dinámico: esa es la diferencia

Commenting on one of the last tutorial videos I made in Lightroom, my friend Stefano Vigneri asks me: "I have a question I already wanted to ask you from the previous tutorial: I am not very clear about the difference between 'whites' and 'lights' and between 'blacks' and 'shadows' in the new Lightroom 4.. Don't both affect the lights and shadows in the histogram? «
I take advantage of your question to delve into the topic and clarify the topic. Or, at least, I try.



The more experienced ones excuse me if I trivialize the concepts a little.

In an image there are two general and fundamental elements at the same time: colors and light.
One is a derivation of the other. In the sense that color is an emanation of light, a particular frequency that is reflected off illuminated objects.
In the absence of light, in fact, we do not perceive colors.

Then we have two settings that better define the colors and light in our photos: Tonal range and dynamic range.
If we want to describe the quantity and quality of the color tones present in our images, we will talk about it. Tonal scale.
If, on the other hand, we want to describe the brightness levels, let's talk about it. dynamic range.

When we take a photo, the histogram that describes the trend of the light captured by the sensor appears on the screen of our digital camera.
As we have said several times, the histogram describes the presence of light from left to right.
This strange drawing shows the shadows on his left side. On the far right, the lights, while in the middle the so-called midtones (or halftones).

FILE Using the Softbox: near or far?

Obviously, it is possible to "exploit" the histogram to observe the trend not only of light but also of colors.
Both in our camera and in Lightroom or Photoshop.

When we work in dynamic range with the controls in Lightroom (but also in Camera Raw or Photoshop), we are working on shadows, reflections and midtones.
The work we do when we work with whites and blacks is slightly different.
It is true that in the lights there are also colors that tend to white and in the shadows those that tend to black but, in this case we are working on two values that allow us to make white "whiter" and black. "Blacker", if you pass me again the trivialization.
Somehow, with black and white controls, we can increase the strength of black and white.
These are finishing controls, so if we overdo it we run the risk of closing other shadows or making the lights turn off completely. In theory, they should be used to "retrieve" details within these two extremes.
It's no coincidence that these controls replaced the old "recovery" and "bright light" sliders, also present in Camera Raw.
Also, since black and white are the ends of a tonal scale in the middle of which there can be an infinite number of shades of gray, when we move these sliders in Lightroom, we are working on the contrast although in a very different way than what happens with curves. For example.

Does this have any impact on the histogram?
Yes, of course. Each treatment we do on the image changes the histogram.
By working in black and white, we allowed ourselves to capture or close details in shadows or reflections that, more crudely (as happened in previous versions), we could not do.

FILE Photoshop Image Navigation: Direct Tips and Tricks

This type of control allows us to manage both the tonal and dynamic range with much more energy than before.
I hope I have been of help to you.

PS. Positive thoughts and Chihuahua at all

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