Last week, I was presented with quite the challenge. I had to photograph a band, outdoors, at night. With no lighting.

Needless to say, I was less than thrilled with how the images came out. At ISO 16,000, they were underexposed, noisy and in some cases suffered from motion blur. No matter what I did in Lightroom Classic, I could not bring them to a level I was satisfied enough with in order to present them to my client.

Then I opened them in DxO PureRAW.

The challenge

These photos were anything but remarkable. The originals featured strong highlights from an overhead street light, but also some very, very dark shadows and a yellow color cast. Here’s the before and after when I edited in Lightroom Classic:

You can see the problem here. I knew I could take the images into Topaz DeNoise AI to get rid of the noise issues. And I knew I could then take them into Topaz Sharpen AI to bring back some of the detail. But there were still some pretty big issues with the image, including color cast, some selective exposure problems and more. In a word, the image was rather … muddy. There’s no way I could send it to my client.

Enter DxO PureRAW

DxO PureRAW is something I’ve used sparingly since its release late last summer. For me, I’ve found it most useful when working with significantly problematic photos that I take in dark environments. I couldn’t use my flash when shooting a band, after all.

PureRAW has very little options within the application. Out of the box, the software seems to adjust color when it finds there to be a color cast. It also can get rid of noise a little too much for my liking. This isn’t what I always want, hence why I use the program as a last resort — like with these band photos.

To say I was blown away by what I was able to recover would be an understatement. DxO PureRAW made it easy for me to get an image that I could work with, and then some. Here’s the before and after between Lightroom Classic and DxO PureRAW.

Once I reimported the image into Lightroom Classic, I made some minor tweaks, like adding a slight vignette and some exposure on his face. And just like that, it was ready to package up for my client, along with the rest of the images I used PureRAW on.

I used PureRAW the following night, too, when editing some photographs from a Silent Disco event. My flash mis-fired a few times, but there were some great captures that I wanted to include. Just like the band photos, I was able to recover exposure and get rid of noise with ease.

Since I used DxO PureRAW when it first came out, it seems like the program has been improving. It’s quicker to process the photos, and the results seem to be a bit more natural. Needless to say, it was well worth my investment.

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