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What curves do photographers use when modifying the contrast of their photographic images?ยน The vast majority don't do their own curves programmatically, which seems to be what you are seeking. Instead, most start with a "canned" default curve, such as your example of y = a*x + b, applied by their chosen raw processing application, and then either ...


I would suggest trying a large, diffuse flash (softbox perhaps, or firing a flash into a diffuser) lighting the water either from the front or from behind. Then back down the ambient light exposure to darken the background. That will give you a lot more contrast between the water and the background, and also let you control the way you light the water.

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