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Shadow/Highlight Comparisons


This page shows you the result of correcting two photo with LightMachine and similar tools. It is meant to give you the chance to compare LightMachine with other tools. We tried to do the photo corrections in the other tools as accurately as possible and didn't try to cheat by using them wrongly. We probably even used them more accurately than most users do. The names of the other tools aren't mentioned (only Photoshop and PSP), but they are sorted according to their price.


The Original Photos

The left photo is a very good example for a high contrast image with a bright sky and a very dark church building. The photo with the girl in the window is a less severe case, but to improve it the shadows need to be lifted without brightening the window and wall.

Both image can't be adjusted without a good mask that protects the highlights and only affects the shadows. Creating such a mask requires quite some work considering the fine tree outlines in the left photo and the different textures and image areas in the right photo. The tools below create such a mask automatically and let you adjust it more or less.



Image 1 Correction
Image 2 Correction

LightMachine ($70 / $40)

The colors, contrast and saturation in the shadows were restored nicely in both photos. Although LightMachine lets you remove the shadows without touching the highlight areas, the contrast of the sky in the church photo was increased to achieve a more natural look. LightMachine offers more features than any of the other mentioned tools. That's why it is possible to achieve such stunning results with it.

Photoshop ($650+)

Photoshop's Shadows/Highlights tool creates relative good results, but has some problems. The sky in the church image has to be brightened in order to make the church more visible. The girl in the shadows doesn't look that natural, because it wasn't possible to adjust the contrast and saturation perfectly. Additionally the wall, which is part of the highlights, was also affected. It can't edit shadows and highlights really independently.


Paint Shop Pro 9 ($120/$70)

PSP's Fill Flash filter didn't achieve much on the church photo even at a 100% setting. It worked better on the girl photo, but trashed the contrast, saturation and details. PSP's Automatic Contrast Enhancement filter only produces slightly better results.

$100 Tool

This tool lets you adjust shadows and highlights independently, but creates a very unnatural look when lifting the shadows. It also created small artifacts at high contrast borders in the church image (which aren't visible in the sized down version).

$70 Tool

This tool produced quite unpredictable results that were different in the preview and the final result. It created a strange vignetting in the sky in the first photo and only managed to get the church half faded and oversaturated. In the girl photo a lot of settings produced strangely shifted shadows, so that some parts of the highlights were darkened and others were not. The girl got a bit oversaturated.

$70 Tool

$70 Tool: This tool completely blows out the sky when you try to get the church visible. In the case of the girl photo it produces a result with a very low contrast. The highlights are brightened too much and the shadows aren't really revealed.


$40 Tool

This tool did quite bad on the church photo. It increased the brightness of the sky too much and produced small artifacts in the trees (which are only visible in the full sized image). It worked much better on the girl photo, but increased the saturation too much. It offers no features for fixing the mentioned problems.

$40 Tool

This tools was only able to produce strangely faded or burnt versions of the church and an extremely brightened sky. It also produce plenty of artifacts (which are only visible in the full sized images). The girl was lifted out of the shadows, but got a quite unnatural look.

$20 Tool

This tool produced very visible halos in the church photo, brightened the sky too much and drained almost all color from the church. The halos are less visible in the girl photo, but it plain to see that the saturation was decreased too much, which produces a worn-out look. There are no options to compensate for these problems.

Freeware Tool

This tools is hard to use and creates only bad results for tough cases like these. It didn't manage to make the church visible enough and changed the sky immensely. It also messed up the contrast in the girl image.

Freeware Tool

This tools doesn't use a shadow/highlight mask, so it strongly fades the highlights when removing the shadows.


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