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Let's help put an end to our low contrast renders!

Maybe it's just me, but it seems there's a movement towards low contrast, no burnt/overbright areas in renders these days. I know I've been guilty of it to some extent. Why? Well I think LWF has a lot to do with it.

For the longest time a lot of us created images with incorrect gamma settings. We often had too much contrast in our renders. Then this "LWF Revolution" came around and now IMHO the pendulum has swung the opposite direction. Now it's far more common to have little to no contrast in our renders.

So how do I get more contrast in my LWF renders? Well, if you're using the mr photographic exposure control a lot of that contrast will come from three simple settings: Highlights (Burn), Midtones, and Shadows.

Examples:

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Notice how the "Highlights (Burn)" value alters the output

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Notice how the "Shadows" value alters the output

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Notice how the "Midtones" value alters the output

Also, if I've said it once, I've said it a thousand times...studying photography can really help us as 3d artists in our quest to recreate realism. Now I'm certainly not saying "go out right now and invest in an expensive DSLR camera". I'm just saying you may find it really beneficial to at least read some of the free photography tutorials/information online. And of course study photographs of lighting conditions (and textures), and then try to recreate that in your 3d application of choice.

Let's take a look at some photos now. These (and many other) reference images can be found on a quick Google image search for "exterior".

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Notice the warm/soft sun color in this image? Also pay attention to the overbright/burnt out sky and overall amount of contrast in the photo.

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High contrast again in this reference photo. Also some subtle over exposed/burnt highlights. Again, you can feel the warmth of the sun here which contrasts the cool blue sky.

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Burnt highlights again here...also notice the cool blue indirect lighting.

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Ahhhh, lens flare! Smile...I also keep this one for the pavement material reference. Notice the blue shadows & over exposed sky.

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I thought this was an excellent glass reference photo. And of course it's a good reference for soft indirect lighting. I also like the warm bounced light at the entrance. Again, the sky is blown out/over exposed.

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