From There to Here – Creative Use Of Lightroom

The previous articles in this series have been focused on ensuring that the reader is aware of and comfortable with the basic controls and features of Lightroom. It was then left up to the user to take this information and apply it to their own unique workflow.  This article will be a bit different as I will be taking one image through what I will call a “creative workflow “ process.

Lightroom is designed specifically to enhance the workflow of photographers, its interface and selection of tools have been crafted with the purpose of providing the photographer with the tools required to take an image from capture to print in the most efficient manner. tt is safe to say that with the exception of the heavy lifting of pixel editing , most images need ever be opened in Adobe Photoshop. My workflow is a testament to the power of Lightroom , it begins with Adobe Lightroom and I will only export and image to Photoshop if I need to  work with complex layers.

The Creative Process

The image below was taken on a late evening photo shoot on the south coast of Barbados. It was a very dark evening and there was very little ambient light on the boardwalk. There was barely enough light for me to see the  dials on the camera and to compound matters I did not have my tripod and was forced to brace the camera on my monopod. That evening I was shooting with a Canon Rebel XTI and did not want to push the ISO above 400 which meant that I was forced to use a relatively short exposure setting in order to avoid camera shake. The result as you can see below, is an image with some potential but definitely underexposed. Lets see what we can rescue in this image with a little creative processing in Lightroom.

Imported

Raw Imported Image

The first step is to attempt to recover the detail in the image by adjusting the tone and the camera calibration settings. The image below shows the result of setting the camera calibration to  Camera Landscape and adjusting the tone curve to recover the details in shadows. The shadow areas, the rocks and buildings are now showing some detail and we have recovered a bit of the colour in the sea. However the image is still soft and lacks sharpnes and the sky is dowdy.

Step 2 Calibration  & Exposure

Step 2 Calibration & Exposure

So lets tackle that dowdy sky by painting back in the wonderful evening glow that i witnessed. To do this I will use a custom adjustment brush set to the colour orange , to lightly paint back in the colour of the sky until it closely resembles  what I saw that evening on the boardwalk.

Adjustment Brush- Painting  The Sky

Adjustment Brush- Painting The Sky

The sky is now a close representation to what I witnessed and the next step is to apply a small amount of Vibrance and Saturation to the complete image. This will raise the blues in the sea and deepen the orange in the sky just a wee bit more.

Vibrance & Saturation

Vibrance & Saturation

The foreground details are still a bit soft . Lets target those with a custom adjustment brush using the sharpening slider,  Brush lightly over the rocks in the foreground and the buildings on the right side of the image to make them slightly sharper.

Adjustment Brush - Sharpening The Foreground

Adjustment Brush - Sharpening The Foreground

The next step is to apply a small amount of clarity and contrast to the overall image. This will assist in bringing out the definition in the waves and the rocks .

Clarity and Contrast

Clarity and Contrast

The final step is to apply a small amount of fill light to ensure that the detail in the rocks and  buildings is still clear.

Final Touch- A bit of fill light

Final Touch- A bit of fill light

So lets compare the two images.

Side By Side

Side By Side

With just a bit of creative processing , taking roughly about 10 minutes I was able to rescue the under exposed image and create the engaging sunset vista on the right.

Hugh Walker is an amateur photographer who has dreams of shooting exotic locations. His job as an IT professional keeps him in touch with the dynamic world of technology, whilst his passion for photography acts as a creative balance. He favors landscape, fashion and architectural photography. He can be found on Twitter as @hughied and his work can be seen at http://www.Art4life.zenfolio.com

 

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