Tweaking Photographs in Lightroom—Part II

9 Jan
 

Last week, we addressed some Basics in Lightroom. This week, we’ll talk a little bit about the Develop module, remembering that this article will give you some hints, rather than a complete, in-depth how to. There are tutorials, books, and our workshops for that.

Because of the space limitations of a blog, we recommend that you open your own copy of Lightroom to see more detail. The screen captures below each section of text will show you where to look and indicate what you might expect to find.

Start off in Library Module

Before you start working on an image, you have to navigate to the proper folder (see highlighted folder below). You will notice that the folder contains 78 images, but only four show up. That’s because we filtered Arnie’s folder to show only the starred ones that he wanted to work on first. Usually in our workshops, we hear at least one panicked voice, because only a few of the images show up! If this happens to you, check your filtering! For those who have not yet read it, you may want to refer to our earlier, several-part blog on digital asset management that discusses, among other subjects, rating your images.

Filtering is a great tool and can be done by stars (my filtering of choice), flags (that I use for separating images that I want to show), and color labels that we use to differentiate between Arnie’s personal work (blue), my personal work (yellow), and our assignment work that we do together (red, the prominent color in our Zann and Pinkerton Photography color scheme).

© 2009 Zann and Pinkerton Photography.  All Rights Reserved.  From Barefoot Contessa Photo Adventures.

You notice in the screen shot below that “filter” is highlighted along with greater-than-or-equal-to one star.

© 2009 Zann and Pinkerton Photography.  All Rights Reserved.  From Barefoot Contessa Photo Adventures.

Below the main part of the module in the lower left, you can see more information, including the fact that we are in light-table mode, have sorted by capture time, that the selected image has both a three-star rating and a blue label. You’ll also note that 1 (image) is selected along with a notation of the folder and file name. If you mouse over one of the other images above — not the “slide” frame, but the image itself — after a second or so, a miniature pop-up window will appear, showing some basic information, including file name.

© 2009 Zann and Pinkerton Photography.  All Rights Reserved.  From Barefoot Contessa Photo Adventures.

Work in Develop Module

Having selected the desired image folder, we head to the Develop module where we can actually tweak our images. As in last week’s blog, you can see that there is the same look to the screen, and some of the same information top and bottom, depending on how you have set it up. As we noted last week, we are not going to do a complete how-to on getting the most out of your images, as we cover that in our workshops. Rather, this will help you navigate around Lightroom and give you a few hints.

In Develop, we selected an image. No, it is not out of focus; it is one of Arnie’s reflection shots.

© 2009 Zann and Pinkerton Photography.  All Rights Reserved.  From Barefoot Contessa Photo Adventures.

Over on the upper right of your screen, if every section is closed, the little triangles will point in instead of down.

© 2009 Zann and Pinkerton Photography.  All Rights Reserved.  From Barefoot Contessa Photo Adventures.

Click on any of the category titles or little triangles to their right, and that section will expand to a lighter-gray box of options, and the little triangle will face down. Click again, and it will close, and the triangle will face left once again. Try it, and you’ll see.

© 2009 Zann and Pinkerton Photography.  All Rights Reserved.  From Barefoot Contessa Photo Adventures.

Let’s get back to that row of tools in the upper, right-hand part of your screen noted below. Mouse over them, and a little pop-up will indicate what they are.

© 2009 Zann and Pinkerton Photography.  All Rights Reserved.  From Barefoot Contessa Photo Adventures.

Click on one of them, the cropping tool, for example, and a box of options will appear. You will notice that the now-open box is darker than any of the open sections, but lighter than the borders.

© 2009 Zann and Pinkerton Photography.  All Rights Reserved.  From Barefoot Contessa Photo Adventures.

Hint

In order to close any of these tools, you must click on it again so that it is no longer brighter than the others.

Crop Overlay

Having clicked on the Crop Overlay tool, you will notice in the main part of your screen that there is a crop overlay on your image.

© 2009 Zann and Pinkerton Photography.  All Rights Reserved.  From Barefoot Contessa Photo Adventures.

One of the things that often flummoxes our students is the aspect ratio, determined by the little padlock show below.

© 2009 Zann and Pinkerton Photography.  All Rights Reserved.  From Barefoot Contessa Photo Adventures.

Click it to toggle between locked and unlocked mode. When unlocked, you can change the aspect ratio, i.e. the relationship between the two dimensions, either by dragging the guides at the sides of corners of your image or by selecting an aspect ratio of your choice of making by clicking on the up/down arrows next to “Original.” Remember that most DSLR, “35mm” cameras these days have a 2:3 ratio. Medium-format cameras have a 1:1 ratio.

Spot Removal

This can also be a clone tool, depending whether you click Clone or Heal. When you position your mouse over the offending area and click, a circle will appear, then a second, bold one will appear. Do not click on that bold circle until you have moused over it; then click and drag it until you find an area that gives you the effect you desire in the non-bold circle.  For those used to Photoshop, cloning is a copy and paste so that you select what you want to copy over the offending area.  In Lightroom, you select the offending area, sometimes in stages (as with a light pole), then see what the darker circle selects.  If you don’t like it, as above, grab the bold circle, and move it around until the formerly-offending area looks right to you.  With practice, this will get easier.

Hint:  If you don’t see the circles, press “H” for “hello” or to make them disappear, “H” again for ‘hide.”

© 2009 Zann and Pinkerton Photography.  All Rights Reserved.  From Barefoot Contessa Photo Adventures.

Graduated Filter

When you click on this feature, you will see a host of things that can be used with this filter. There are two things that will help you. First, tiny motions to the left or right will produce large shifts in the angle of the filter. If you want an angled filter, be sure to start in the corner rather than one of the edges; otherwise, your filter will not extend into the corner.  Use the “H” as noted above.

Adjustment Brush

Aside from the plethora of effects you have at your disposal, pay attention to the size and feathering of your brush. This is the tool I use for dodging and burning, adding clarity, sharpness, “fuzzing down” some too-sharp areas, painting in color, etc., etc., etc. Using this tool will only make the adjustment once; in other words, if you go back and forth over one area, that will not increase the effect. To increase the effect in an area, either click on the sliders or, for finer, more subtle adjustments, click on the number to the right and click on the up or down arrows on your computer.  To do a new task, click on “New”; to edit one you have done, click on “edit” and then click on the little gray circle that corresponds to the area you wish to edit.  A black inner dot will appear, which means your area is now live and ready for further adjustments.

Basic Section

I am not one to generally use additional Contrast. Instead, I like to use a combination of Fill and Black. If you experiment, you will see that equal parts of Fill Light and Black do not cancel each other out. The first image below is as it looked when it was imported into Lightroom. Remember that what comes out of the camera usually needs some enhancement to realize your vision. The second image is after equal parts of Fill Light and Black were added. This does not mean that is the look that Arnie wanted, but it does illustrate that there is a difference after these adjustments rather than a wash.

© 2009 Zann and Pinkerton Photography.  All Rights Reserved.  From Barefoot Contessa Photo Adventures.

© 2009 Zann and Pinkerton Photography.  All Rights Reserved.  From Barefoot Contessa Photo Adventures.

You can see a definite difference between the two images above. When you import an image into Lightroom, you will see an automatic addition of 5 Black. As you can see below from the History that appears in the lower left of the screen, We simply added 10 to Fill Light, making it 10 and 10 to Black, making it 15.

© 2009 Zann and Pinkerton Photography.  All Rights Reserved.  From Barefoot Contessa Photo Adventures.

Tone Curve

This section looks much like the one in any other imaging program. The nifty feature that Lightroom adds is the little bullseye in the upper left. Mouse over it, and you will see little up and down arrows pop up which are hints that, once the bullseye is active, you mouse up or mouse down to effect change. Click the bullseye to turn it on and again to turn it off when you are through making these adjustments.

© 2009 Zann and Pinkerton Photography.  All Rights Reserved.  From Barefoot Contessa Photo Adventures.
Bullseye = Off

© 2009 Zann and Pinkerton Photography.  All Rights Reserved.  From Barefoot Contessa Photo Adventures.
Bullseye = On

Once the Bullseye is turned on, move the cross-hair over the area that represents the tone you want to change, then click and hold, while dragging up or down. Cool! Just don’t forget to turn the Bullseye off when you are through!

HSL / Color / Greyscale

HSL stands for Hue, Saturation, and Luminance. I LOVE these!  Experiment with them all, but instead of adding a universal saturation in the Basic section, consider doing spot saturation (or hue change or luminance change) by using that little bullseye that works the same as the one in Tone Curve. We teach our students to go beyond what they want, then ease back to what pleases them. If you inch along away from the original, you will never know what might have been! Also, don’t forget that you can also desaturate color, lessen luminance, etc.

Vignettes

A lot of users forget about the vignetting tool. This is an old traditional dark-room tool that is still very effective.  I happen to do  more of my vignetting with the brush or graduated filter tools, as I have more control over the corners which I may not want to be treated equally.

History

Don’t like what you did? Just go over to the History and go back down however many steps you want and click. Ta-daaa, last steps undone!

Virtual Copy

Let’s say you want to experiment with several treatments. Perhaps one will be a desaturation; one will be black and white; some will have different croppings. Again, this is not necessarily what Arnie wants to do with this image, but it illustrates the value of virtual copies. Simply right click on your image and select Create Virtual Copy about 2/3 down the list. Do it again for more virtual copies. I generally give my virtual copies a different designation so differentiate it from the original. Perhaps one star instead of the three on the original below here would clearly show up the difference.

© 2009 Zann and Pinkerton Photography.  All Rights Reserved.  From Barefoot Contessa Photo Adventures.

Next Installment

We’ll look at the Slideshow module in our next installment.

Meanwhile, we hope to see many of you at our workshops this year. We already have quite a few sign-ups, including a good number of our alumni/ae. There are several discounts available. For more information, go to our Barefoot Contessa Photo Adventures website, and if you are considering joining us, do as others have already done … make your room reservations. You can always cancel later if necessary!

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