This is a single image captured on my Canon 6D. This was a drive by capture. I was driving down the A30 to Salisbury when I saw this bright yellow vibrant field. The location is East Winterslow.
The image capture used my specialist high access photography equipment, which I must write about soon. Settings for the image capture were as follows.
Canon 6D with Canon 17-40mm lens. 1/2000th second at F8, ISO 400. Focal length used 19mm.
I want to talk about how I processed this image in Lightroom.
I start by creating a virtual copy, so I can do what I want without affecting the original image. Next I reset all the sliders – I apply some develop presets to all my images on import. I want to start from the very beginning with this image though.
All I do is hit reset which you can find in the bottom right hand corner when you are in the Develop module in Lightroom CC.
OK so now I am back at the beginning.
First thing I do is go to Lens Corrections, and select Enable Profile Correction.
I do this now on import to every image as a matter of course. But for this post, about editing an image in Lightroom, I am starting from the very beginning with the RAW file.
Cropping the image
Next I crop. I do not want to spend time working on parts of an image that I do not want.
To change the grid in when the Crop Module is enabled just press the key O (the letter not the number) and you can cycle through the different grid screen options. I went with the grid divided into thirds for this shot. The rule of thirds….
What is the main interest in this picture? The yellow. So I cropped out some of the sky giving emphasis to the yellow colour in the field.
I now start every image with a crop, as I am more interested in the composition of the image than ever – this is after all the picture. The rest is what you do to that composition.
Talking of which, I will be describing here, step by step, what I did to produce this image. I should call this my step by step guide to writing an image. There I have worked it in nicely now – should be great for the SEO!
Getting the white balance right
After the crop, next is white balance. RAW images are by default set to As Shot white balance. So you have to do something.
For this image I tried Auto, Daylight and Cloudy, but was not really happy with any of these settings. Remember white balance is setting the colours for the whole image, so is important. If you are creating artwork then fine, you can do what you want, but for this landscape image I need the sky to be blue, the field to be yellow and the tress to be green. Basically I need the colours and the tone to be correct.
My preferred method for this is to produce a custom white balance, so I select Custom in the White Balance drop down menu, and a dropper tool appears. What I am looking for is a target neutral. Clouds are a great source of neutral greys and whites. Other things that I use in my architectural photography include tarmac and concrete kerbs.
The great thing about the custom white balance is that as well as the dropper tool telling you the numerical value of where you move it, you also get a preview top left of the effect.
I am looking for the numbers in the panel of the dropper tool to be the same, or as close to each other. The three numbers are R, G and B. These stand for Red, Green and Blue. If all the numbers are the same I should have a neutral colour. If the R value is high there will be too much Red for example. Using this image, as I hover the tool over the yellow field the values I get are R 55.9, G 54.6 and B 22.7. The colour does not work. The preview does not look good. Similarly, if I select the trees the values I get are R 20.3, G 22.5 and B 11.9. Finally for completeness when I select the sky the values are R52, G53.8 and B 65.2. Too much blue gives a cold image.
I know that the clouds are going to be my best source of a neutral colour in this image, and indeed they give me values of R59.6, G59.6 and B65.7.
Don’t be put off by all of this. With practise this does not take long. Just look for something grey, click on it with the custom tool and if the numbers are good and it looks ok you are done.
I selected the clouds even though the B value was a bit higher than I would like. This gave me a Temperature of 6650, with a Tint of +4.
And more importantly than the numbers the image looked correct.
I will stress again here the importance of a calibrated monitor, and will write about this in a separate post.
OK so onwards with this image.
I work through the Basic Panel first, checking the image on my IPad using Lightroom Mobile. When I am not writing about my image processing that is!
I increased the exposure in the end by +0.35. I say in the end as other sliders can affect the exposure.
Contrast I only ever increase. I don’t think I have ever reduced the contrast in an image. This time I added +29.
Next is something I often do these days.
Highlights -100, Shadows +100. Basically I drop the highlights all the way and boost the shadows. For this image I pushed the highlights back up to -90.
Try this and you will hopefully like the effect.
Another trick now. Hold down the shift key, and double click on the Whites Slider. Lightroom sets the white point for you. And if you do the same to the black slider, yes it sets the black point for you. And helpfully you are beginning to see the depth and detail within the image coming out.
Next in the Basic panel is Clarity. I love the Clarity slider, which is fantastic for bringing out the textures in an image. And there are lots of plants in the image. I don’t want Clarity in the sky necessarily, and there are two ways I can deal with this. I can either apply Clarity to the whole image then paint it out using a negative value on a brush, or just paint it where I want it, which is what I normally do. I will push the global Clarity slider first to give me a quick ideas of how it looks and the effect it has on the image, then reset it to zero and go to the brushes.
How do I quickly reset Clarity to zero I hear you ask?? Just double click on the pointer in the slider.
And once I have done that I can play around with the other sliders within the brush tool. For this image I boosted the Clarity by 52, having moved the slider left and right, then also increased the shadows by 43.
The clarity slider darkened the dark bits of the shadows, which just needed a lift.
Next is the Vibrance slider. This is a very powerful tool. The vibrance slider, in simple terms, increases the colours that are not that prominent. I love this tool and use it on every image. Again move the slider as much as you want, left and right, then choose the point which you like the look of. 24 was plenty. Any more and the sky started to go a funny shade of blue which is not good.
A negative value is always worth a try, as you can get some great old fashioned, muted, subtle colours.
I don’t use the Saturation slider. It is too clumsy for me. Having said that I do slide it all the way to the left, which gives me a sneak preview of the black and white version of an image.
Tone Curve Panel
The next panel is the Tone Curve. I don’t use this either.
HSL Panel - read this bit!!
A great panel, and one I use on most images. What I like about this panel is that you can increase the saturation and luminance of selective colours, in a very targeted and specific way.
In the saturation part of the HSL panel, click on the small circle to the left of the word Saturation. Now you can select anywhere in the image and just slide the mouse up or down to increase the saturation in the part of the image you click on. Just select part of the image, click on that point and, keeping the mouse pointer pressed, slide up to increase the saturation or down to reduce the saturation.
Is that nothing less than fantastic?
But wait. It gets better. Do the same with the luminance slider, and you can adjust the brightness of a colour.
Just try it on any sky. It is so so powerful and simple to do.
As with all these adjustments, I like to keep my images looking natural whilst extracting out as much of the information that is there in the image.
I have pretty much finished this image at this point.
Final touches are sharpening, which you access from the Detail Panel. which is never anywhere other than 50-100 in the amount slider. I do use the Mask slider, where you can control what gets sharpened, from time to time. Just hold down the Alt Key and slide the slider to the right. The screen will go from blank white (everything being sharpened) to black (nothing being sharpened) as you move the slider to the right.
Finally, any distractions? Things to remove? I zoom in to 1:1, press the home key, then work through the image using the page down key, removing anything I do not like. In this image there was a prominent road sign that I did not like, and a mobile phone mast. The spot removal tool in Lightroom got rid of these nicely and easily. Next a quick check of the image on my IPad. Checking my IPad the image was not bright enough, all I did was increase the exposure by .3 of a stop and that was fixed.
And finally a modest vignette, barely visible, with a value of -12.
I hope that my description of how I edit an image in Lightroom was helpful and of interest to you – please get back to me with any questions you may have.
I am currently working on a new set of images which will be appearing shortly on my Wiltshire photographer web page - you can view the progress of this page at www.rickmcevoyphotography.co.uk/wiltshire-photographer.
Rick McEvoy Photography Blog
Thursday 10th November 2016