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My understanding is that your lights shouldn't be limited by the dynamic range the default view can show.

I'm sure there's more to it than just making lights brighter and over-exposing the default view, but I don't know what. How do I know which lights should be how bright?

I've heard that using a logarithmic view transform is useful in these situations. Indeed, even with very bright reflections and dark shadows it allows me to see details in both. The only problem is I don't know what I'm looking for.

How does one light in scene-referred space?

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As far I understand it, you can check your scene exposure and range by switching to one of the False Color looks in Color Management.

Here's what the colors mean:

  • Low Clipping Black Scene Linear value 0.000176272 and below
  • Nine Stops Down = Purple Scene Linear value 0.000351384 to 0.000702411.
  • Eight Stops Down = Blue Scene Linear value 0.000702411 to 0.002814643.
  • Six Stops Down = Cyan Scene Linear value 0.002814643 to 0.044567918.
  • Two Stops Down = Green Scene Linear value 0.044567918 to 0.018009142.
  • Middle Grey = Gray Scene Linear value 0.018009142.
  • Two Stops Over = Green Scene Linear value 0.719634476 to 2.883658483.
  • Four Stops Over = Yellow Scene Linear value 2.883658483 to 11.39491214.
  • Six Stops Over = Red Scene Linear value 11.39491214 to 16.29174024.
  • High Clipping = White Scene Linear value 16.29174024 and above.

I've been recomended to make sure you don't see red or white which means you're probably overexposed in those areas. Likewise with avoiding the lowest regions of Black and Purple which indicates severe underexposure. If you can get a well exposed image rendered out, you can make a wide range of lighting adjustments in the compositor with the Color Balance node in CDL mode.

Troy S may need to correct this, but this is my current understanding of creating balance lighting in your scene.

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    $\begingroup$ For the record (and for users not finding these settings on their install), the False looks are not part of the default color management configuration, but are part of a LUT pack and OCIO config made by @troy_s that can be downloaded here: github.com/sobotka/bassam-test $\endgroup$ – user1853 Jun 4 '16 at 23:01
  • $\begingroup$ True, but my assumption was that he was already using those LUTS, since he was talking about scene-referred space. $\endgroup$ – Todd McIntosh Jun 4 '16 at 23:05
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    $\begingroup$ but other users might wonder... $\endgroup$ – user1853 Jun 4 '16 at 23:06
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    $\begingroup$ Well, I think +gandalf3 should clarify his question to specifically mention the new LUTs if that is indeed what he's doing. $\endgroup$ – Todd McIntosh Jun 5 '16 at 1:03
  • $\begingroup$ I agree with @cegaton and toddmcintosh , when I first read this Q&A it was a complete mystery, I believe this should be edited in the question, please edit the question to clarify that this is about a different color management system than the Blender default gandalf3 . Thank you for bringing up this matter and for the enlighting question and answers, I also believe this question should be linked to the other question by cegaton with troy_s explanation on the matter $\endgroup$ – Georges Jun 5 '16 at 23:35

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