Create Amazing Sunrise Photos with these Easy Lightroom Editing Tips

The post Create Amazing Sunrise Photos with these Easy Lightroom Editing Tips appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Simon Ringsmuth.

Sunrise pictures can be tricky. Even the most dedicated photographer can get frustrated with sub-par results, often with foregrounds that are too dark or a nice round sun that appears white and washed-out. While things like timing and technique are critical for taking good sunrise pictures, another element is the editing. With a few Lightroom sunrise photo editing tips, you can take a boring, bland sunrise and turn it into a work of art.

Create Amazing Sunrise Photos with these Easy Lightroom Editing Tips

To get a good finished photo you need a solid starting point. That means your initial sunrise photo needs to meet a few basic parameters:

  • It must be shot in RAW.
  • The sky should be properly exposed, which means the foreground will be dark.
  • It’s helpful to shoot with low ISO values to give you as much headroom as possible when editing.

If you start with a sunrise photo that meets these parameters, you can use a few sliders and options in Lightroom to bring out the colors and brilliance that you saw with your eyes when you shot it.

To illustrate this process, I’m going to walk through an example of sunrise photo editing. The picture below is a RAW file straight out of my camera.

sunrise-photo-editing-tips

Original RAW file straight from my camera. Nikon D750, 50mm, f/4, 1/180 second, ISO 320.

This picture might not look very impressive, but that’s the point. If I had exposed for the foreground, the dark areas would be bright and natural. The trade-off is that parts of the sky would be so bright they would be unrecoverable in Lightroom.

Everything needed for a beautiful sunrise photo is fully intact in this dark, underexposed image. I just need to coax out the colors with a little sunrise photo editing.

Step 1: Shadows

The first thing to do is brighten the foreground by adjusting the shadows. Locate the Basic Panel in the Lightroom Develop module and push the Shadows slider all the way to the right.

Image: Boosting the shadows will make the dark foreground a lot more usable.

Boosting the shadows will make the dark foreground a lot more usable.

This makes the foreground much brighter. It is very close to how the scene looked when I shot the picture. I was on my bike, and there’s no way I would have ridden to work that morning in the complete pitch black!

sunrise-photo-editing-tips

With the shadows lifted, the foreground is brighter. You can also see that there is plenty of image data captured in the RAW file to work with.

Step 2: White balance and graduated filters

After bringing up the shadows, the next step is to tweak the colors of the sky and foreground. The graduated filter is perfect for this since your edits are applied gradually, as the name implies.

Image: Graduated Filters are ideal for sunrise photos.

Graduated Filters are ideal for sunrise photos.

The values you use for this will depend greatly on the look you want in your picture. For a good starting point, I recommend lowering the Temperature, raising the Whites, and increasing the Saturation. Feel free to tweak the other settings to your liking, but I recommend being a little conservative at this point. You can always go back and change things later. If you have objects protruding into your sky like trees, buildings, or mountains, you can use the Range Mask option. Then your edits are only applied to the sky and nothing else.

Image: When using a Graduated Filter on the sky, I like to lower the color temperature and increase...

When using a Graduated Filter on the sky, I like to lower the color temperature and increase saturation. You might find other tweaks to be helpful as well.

After adjusting the sky, use a second Graduated Filter to perform a similar operation on the foreground. Click the New button at the top of the Graduated Filter panel, and click-and-drag on the picture to apply your filter.

Move the Temperature slider to the right so the foreground is a little warmer. Then adjust other options like Exposure, Texture, and Sharpness as needed.

Image: A second Graduated Filter in the opposite direction can be useful for giving the foreground a...

A second Graduated Filter in the opposite direction can be useful for giving the foreground a warmer white balance.

There’s no correct way to do this next step because everyone has unique taste and preferences. I used the following values on the image above, but your results will vary depending on your picture.

Image: When applying a second Graduated Filter to the foreground, it can be useful to edit some othe...

When applying a second Graduated Filter to the foreground, it can be useful to edit some other parameters as well, especially Exposure and Shadows.

Step 3: Crop the picture

Some will debate the exact stage in the process where you need to crop your picture. Others will say that a good photographer should use what comes out of the camera and never crop anything! I say it’s your picture and if you want to crop, go right ahead. I recommend cropping after your basic adjustments are in place. Those operations can bring out things formerly hidden and give you a better sense of how you really want to crop the image.

In the image I’m working with for this example, I don’t like the “Speed Limit 35” sign on the right side. If I crop that out, then I need also to re-frame the picture, so the sun is in the middle.

sunrise-photo-editing-tips

You can use cropping to get the dimensions and proportions of your picture just right.

Step 4: General Color Adjustments

After making your initial set of adjustments, and cropping the picture to your liking, it’s time to head to the HSL/Color panel to tweak the individual colors of the sunrise. Bring up the Saturation level of orange, blue, and red while also adjusting the Hue and Luminance to get just the right look. As before, be careful not to go overboard since too much tweaking makes your picture look unnatural.

For the picture below, I adjusted the Hue and Saturation of Blue by +20 each, and the Saturation of Orange by 14.

Image: Adjusting the blues and oranges can really bring out some of the vivid colors of a sunrise pi...

Adjusting the blues and oranges can really bring out some of the vivid colors of a sunrise picture.

Image: Don’t overdo your adjustments or your image will look fake and over-saturated.

Don’t overdo your adjustments or your image will look fake and over-saturated.

Step 5: Detailed enhancements

As with cropping, some photographers have varying opinions on when to do this step while others skip it entirely. I like to do it near the end of the editing process after I have made my other adjustments. However, you might find it better utilized at an earlier phase. Head back to the Basic panel where everything began and fine-tune a couple of other sliders like Highlights, Whites, Texture, and even Exposure if you need to.

sunrise-photo-editing-tips

Final tweaks help put the finishing touches on your sunrise.

At this point, you’re really just putting the finishing touches on, almost like adding a pinch of salt or garlic powder to a pot of soup that’s ready to eat. I sometimes get lost down an image-editing rabbit hole at this step. I find myself endlessly tweaking the sliders in a vain attempt to chase perfection. If that happens to you, walk away from your computer for an hour. When you return, you may be pleasantly surprised at how good your picture looks, with no additional tweaking required.

Create Amazing Sunrise Photos with these Easy Lightroom Editing Tips

You can also use the Spot Removal tool to clean up dust or dirt on the lens as well as fix other imperfections. There are also several Sharpening options to make your sunrise a little more clear and crisp.

From good to great

As with most photo editing situations, your results will vary greatly depending on a variety of factors. I have found that this same process, with different degrees of adjustments to the sliders, works quite well for me. It would probably work as a good starting point for you too. Still, I encourage you to experiment and develop your own editing style over time.

For one more example of how this process can yield good results, I started with the following RAW file. I shot this picture just as the sun was coming up in rural Nebraska.

sunrise-photo-editing-tips

RAW file straight out of my camera. 50mm, f/8, 1/180 second, ISO 100. As with the other image at the top of this article, the original is severely underexposed but contains all the data needed when editing in Lightroom.

I used the exact same process described in this article to vastly improve the picture in less than two minutes.

sunrise-photo-editing-tips

Two minutes later and it’s been transformed into a frame-worthy midwestern sunrise.

I hope these sunrise photo editing tips help you achieve some epic photos!

I’d love to see some of your sunrise shots and hear about the editing process you use as well. Leave your thoughts, as well as any pictures you’d like to share, in the comments below.

 

sunrise-photo-editing-tips

The post Create Amazing Sunrise Photos with these Easy Lightroom Editing Tips appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Simon Ringsmuth.

How to Make Your Photos Awesome in Lightroom or Photoshop Camera RAW

The post How to Make Your Photos Awesome in Lightroom or Photoshop Camera RAW appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Caz Nowaczyk.

In this video tutorial, Nemanja Sekulic will show you how to make some dramatic editing changes to your RAW photos using Lightroom or Photoshop Camera RAW.

During the process, you will learn the following in Lightroom (which you can also translate to Photoshop Camera RAW):

  • How to use the Basic Panel including the Exposure Slider, Highlight Slider, Shadow Slider, Color Temperature Slider,
  • The shortcut for viewing before/after (\)
  • How to use the Radial Filter tool – how to make multiple radial filter selections, reposition, and make adjustments to the selection.
  • How to use the Adjustment Brush Tool – including changing your brush size, flow, and feather amounts.
  • How to use it to make selective adjustments in your image, including color, temperature, exposure, highlights, shadows, clarity, etc. to fine-tune your image.
  • How to use selective color with your Adjustment Brush.
  • How to make new Adjustment Brushes to fine-tune the details in the eyes.
  • How to use Hue and Saturation Panels as well as the Split Toning Panel.
  • How to add a vignette.
  • How to go back and readjust any of your Radial Filter, and Adjustment Brush settings.

You can apply these techniques across any image you choose, or you can download Nemanja’s image file here.

You may also find the following helpful:

 

The post How to Make Your Photos Awesome in Lightroom or Photoshop Camera RAW appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Caz Nowaczyk.

Lightroom Texture Slider vs. Skin Smoothing

The post Lightroom Texture Slider vs. Skin Smoothing appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Simon Ringsmuth.

One of Adobe’s recent feature updates to Lightroom has profound implications for photographers who retouch their portraits. While in-depth alterations are best handled in an app like Photoshop or Affinity Photo, Lightroom’s brush tool has been a good choice for basic retouching for many years. Users can dial in specific settings to help skin appear softer and smoother, or select a preset defined by Adobe. However, these retouches have typically employed the Clarity slider, which is great for a lot of situations but not exactly ideal for portraits. Thankfully, the new Lightroom Texture Slider option aims to solve this and a whole lot more.

Lightroom Texture Slider vs. Skin Smoothing - 1

Before I get too deep into the Texture option, it’s important to know that it’s not just for tweaking headshots. It is specifically designed to either increase or decrease the detail on textured surfaces. These can be cloth, rocks, plants, skin, or anything that has a non-uniform appearance.

If you want to smooth the texture to make a surface appear more glassy, slide the Texture option to the left. By contrast, if you want to enhance the look of any textured object, just slide the tool to the right.

Texture vs. Clarity vs. Sharpening

Texture is fundamentally different from other tools such as Clarity or Sharpening, each of which has long been a staple in many portrait photographers’ workflows. Clarity works by increasing or decreasing contrast specifically along edges, or areas of already-high contrast. It primarily affects mid-tones and not the lightest and darkest portions of an image. Sharpening makes the edges of objects and surfaces much more vivid. It has some additional parameters like Radius and Amount that can be fine-tuned to get you just the right balance.

Lightroom Texture Slider vs. Skin Smoothing - 2

Each of these tools has a specific purpose, and they can be used alone or together to create specific results. If you usually do basic portrait retouching by using the Brush tool and selecting the Soften Skin option, you may have noticed that it’s merely a combination of Clarity and Sharpness. Texture, on the other hand, is specifically designed by Adobe to alter the appearance of textured surfaces.

If you have traditionally done some basic retouching using Clarity and Sharpening, you might be surprised at how effective the Texture option is.

The Soften Skin brush preset in Lightroom is just a combination of -100 Clarity and +25 Sharpening.

Retouching with Texture

While you can apply texture globally by using the option in the Basic panel of Lightroom’s Develop module, portrait photographers will appreciate that it can be applied selectively using the Brush tool. Select the Brush option and then look for the Texture slider, which is right above Clarity, Dehaze, and Saturation. You can also configure parameters like Size, Feather, Flow, and Auto Mask though I would recommend leaving the latter turned off if you are editing portraits.

Click on your photograph and brush in the Texture adjustment the same you would with any other adjustment. Be careful to stay in the facial region and not brush into hair, clothing, or other parts of the image. You certainly can apply the texture brush to other elements of your picture later on, but to start with stay focused on the face.

Lightroom Texture Slider vs. Skin Smoothing - 3

Original image with no brush adjustments applied.

As you brush in the Texture adjustment, you will see rough areas of the skin become smooth. I recommend starting with a value between -25 and -50. This retains most of the original look of the portrait while smoothing things out just a bit.

If you have never worked with the Adjustment Brush tool, you might take a minute and look over these five tips that could speed things up or make your work a lot more efficient.

Lightroom Texture Slider vs. Skin Smoothing - 4

Texture -50 adjustment brush applied to the cheeks, chin, and nose.

The resulting portrait has a smoother, softer appearance where the Texture adjustment was applied. Details such as pores and wrinkles remain, and color gradients and shifting tones are also preserved.

This is much different than the results typically produced by using the Skin Smoothing option, which employs a mix of negative Clarity and positive Sharpening.

Lightroom Texture Slider vs. Skin Smoothing - 5

Image with Soften Skin adjustment applied to the same areas.

This third image looks as though petroleum jelly has been smeared over the camera lens. The woman’s cheeks are missing the subtle color variations from the original image. While the skin is certainly smoother, it also looks more artificial.

To show how these images look in direct relation to one another, here is a graphic that shows all three versions for three seconds at a time. First is the original, then the Texture adjustment, then the original again, and finally the Soften Skin adjustment.

Lightroom Texture Slider vs. Skin Smoothing

You can create your own Adjustment Brush preset if you don’t want to rely on the Soften Skin preset. But if you have traditionally used the Clarity option, you may find it pleasantly surprising how vastly improved your results are by using Texture instead.

Comparison two

For another comparison, here are three more images to help you see the difference between Texture and other methods of softening skin.

Lightroom Texture Slider vs. Skin Smoothing - 6

The original image with no skin softening adjustments applied.

Applying a Texture -50 Adjustment leaves the pores, stubble, and small wrinkles intact but smooths them out just a bit. It’s a subtle change that doesn’t alter the original too much or make the face appear artificially smooth.

Lightroom Texture Slider vs. Skin Smoothing - 7

Texture -50 applied to the cheeks, chin, nose, and forehead.

A custom skin smoothing adjustment of Clarity -75 and Sharpness +15 makes the young man’s forehead and cheeks appear fake and plastic. It’s not a great look for a portrait.

Lightroom Texture Slider vs. Skin Smoothing - 8

Clarity -75 and Sharpness +15 applied to the same areas.

Looking at the three images sequentially shows the effect in a more pronounced fashion. The Texture adjustment gives a much more natural result while the final image seems over-processed and fake.

Lightroom Texture Slider vs. Skin Smoothing - 9

Conclusion

There’s a lot more you can do with the Lightroom Texture slider, and it’s useful for a wide variety of images aside from portraits. Some photographers like to reduce texture in the face and increase texture on hair and clothing for a punchier look.

My recommendation is to open up some of your images, especially portraits or headshots, and try it out for yourself. You might be surprised at how well it works.

Have you used the Lightroom Texture slider? What are your thoughts? Please share your thoughts (and images) with us in the comments section.

 

Lightroom Texture Slider vs Skin Smoothing

The post Lightroom Texture Slider vs. Skin Smoothing appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Simon Ringsmuth.

Four Under-Used Tools in Lightroom’s Lens Correction Module

hacking photography, mike newton, architecture,

Almost every lens changes the way your image looks by warping it in some way. Each lens can create barrel distortion, vignetting at big apertures, chromatic aberration, and more.

Some lenses have more distortion than others. Let’s look at four tools in Lightroom’s lens correction module that are a lifesaver

1. The easy button – lens profile corrections in one click

Before lens corrections:

lens corrections, lightroom

Brick wall at 16mm, f/2.8, ISO 1250. You can see the ‘bulge’ in the middle because the horizontal lines are not parallel. Also notice the dark corner vignetting from shooting wide open at f/2.8

After one-click lens correction:

hacking photography, brick wall, lens correction, barrel distortion

Same settings as above but with lens profile correction applied. Note the parallel horizontal lines and no more dark corners.

I shot this wall on a 16-35mm f/2.8 lens at f/2.8 to illustrate the ‘bulge’ in the middle and vignetted corners. These are distortions from the Canon 16-35mm f/2.8L II lens.lightroom 5 lens profile corrections,

Lightroom is already loaded with profile corrections for this specific lens! Just click “enable profile corrections” in the “Profile” section of the Lens Correction module and Lightroom will fix the distortion for the lens you used!

Finding your lens profiles on older versions of Lightroom

As Lightroom keeps rolling out newer versions, it rolls out profiles from newly released lenses. If you are using Lightroom 3 from 2010 but have a lens that hit the market in 2012, Lightroom won’t have it in there.

You can go download Adobe Lens Profile Creator to look up your lenses, grab their profiles, and manually add them to Lightroom.

I use the profile corrections on almost all of my images

Unless you have a very specific reason to manually deal with it, I suggest that you just use Lightroom’s built-in profile corrections most of the time.

While you can certainly change all these lens corrections manually, in most cases it makes more sense to let Lightroom do the hard work for you.

2. The vertical slider

Pizzeria Mozza San Diego, architecture photography, keystoning, hacking photography

The problem

I photographed this shot above for a commercial builder. Notice how the building in the back is falling over, and the one in front has vertical lines that aren’t parallel? Rather than repeat this excellent DPS article (Why are my Buildings Falling Over? A Short Guide to Perspective Distortion and Correction in Photography) that describes why this happens, I’ll show you how to correct it.

The solution

I pull the vertical slider to the left until the lines are parallel.

hacking photography, architecture photography, pizzeria mozza, lens correction, lightroom 5

Crop it

Notice anything weird? When you shift the vertical axis you lose some of the image. Architecture photographers use tilt-shift lenses to correct this in camera without losing any of the image.

Since I didn’t have one at the time, I corrected it in Lightroom by cropping the white part out.

tilt-shift, hacking photography,

3. The horizontal slider

Sometimes you might be in a hurry and shoot a photo that needs to be slightly shifted horizontally in post. I did this during a fashion shoot.

Hacking Photography, model, horizontal shift

The problem

I took the photograph without realizing I was slightly positioned to the side of the wall vs. straight on. If you look closely, you can see the line where the wall hits the ground, and that it slightly angles from bottom left to top right.

The solution

Using the horizontal slider and shifting it slightly to the right will tilt this photo so the right side appears to come closer to the viewer and the left side moves further away from the viewer. The result is that now the photo is perfectly square with the wall and the line along the bottom is level.

hacking photography, lens corrections

4. Vignette slider

The problem

When shooting at big apertures most lenses create some form of vignette, meaning dark corners in the photo. Sometimes these can be attractive, but sometimes you don’t want them.

I shot this photo at f/1.8. Do you see the dark corners? I want to remove those.

hacking photography

The solution

Simply pull the vignette slider in the Lens Correction manual module to the right to reduce a vignette.

vignette, hackingphotography.com

Vignettes are a matter of personal preference. I don’t think the first photo looks bad with the vignette, I just wanted it without it. You can use the vignette slider to create or enhance a vignette by pulling the slider to the left.

Pro tip: if you’ve cropped the image at all, you will want to use the post-crop vignetting tool in the “effects” dialog box. The vignette slider in the lens corrections module affects the original image size, regardless if you’ve cropped it.

If you want to see these tools in action, check out the video below:

I hope you found this helpful – happy editing!

The post Four Under-Used Tools in Lightroom’s Lens Correction Module by Mike Newton appeared first on Digital Photography School.

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