ACR 4.1 Fill Light

San Clemente evening clouds

Earlier I had discussed this image and felt that I was going to create a composite image by adding another RAW conversion image to open up the shadow area. Since then I read Doug Plummer’s blog about using the Fill Light function with the RAW conversion of ACR 4.1. In checking back with my CS3 book by Martin Evening, the Fill Light is only referenced once about an edit that he did with ACR. Not much and easy to miss.

I knew exactly which of my images was an excellent test of using this ACR conversion function. I took another Mulligan and glad that I still have the original RAW image to work with again. The Fill Light is to essentially move the histogram to the right, opening what is the shadow area. I thought what is the big deal, as I can use a curves adjustment layer and get the same effect, right? Well, not really. Indeed the Fill Light does push the data curve right, but what that does is provide more “tweaking” room when I use a subsequent curves adjustment layer after the RAW conversion.

San Clemente 

Without the Fill Light movment (above), I am really jammed in the left shadow side of the curve and any adjustements are too crude. And just about the best that I can do at the moment without the use of the ACR 4.1 RAW conversion and the Fill Light adjustments.

Looks like I have found a tool to help me with those overexposed images to help save what I can do in the shadows. It is subtle, but it can make a difference and give me more options.  Nice.

Best regards, Doug

Added Note: when I subsequently compared images, I realized that the other benefit with using the Fill Light is that it allowed me to pull the highlights into a larger workable space. I was then able to create more seperation in my highlights with the Curves adjustment layer.

One thought on “ACR 4.1 Fill Light

Add yours

  1. This is just me guessing, but I don’t think the highlight recovery works the same way as ordinary curve adjustments. My experience is that the tool works only if not all three channels are blown. The conclusion from this may be that it uses data from the intact channel(s) to recreate the blown channels. I may be wrong. As I sayd, just guessing.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Blog at

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: