This is not a Lightroom or Photoshop Tutorial. Here I show you step by step what I do to create my images
There are a lot of ways to process pictures, if you shoot many images or long series, it might make sense to work with presets. In my mind, my pictures deserve a lot more..
Lets get started
So you loaded all your images to Lightroom, went through the painful process of selecting “The One” cool image that deserves all your attention for the next couple of hours. In this case I chose a sunset shot from a castle which was taken in a kind of worst case dynamic range situation. I always try to expose to the right (of the histogram), meaning a tad overexposed so that I can recover the details in the shadows with less noise. Looks damn dark for an overexposed picture you might think, but take a look at the histogram, there is already slight clipping visible. This is no issue, it is mainly the sun, and the sun is white. Btw. this also why I think that HDR is 90% obsolete. I explain this here.
First we need to get the exposure right. To do so I lift the shadows and balance the Highlights, Whites and and Exposure while keeping an eye on the histogram. With my Nikon D750 I don’t need to worry about noise or any detail loss. It is a dynamic range monster that allowes me to under expose in extreme light situations. When I’m done with the first steps I slightly adjust Curves, White Balance, Saturation and see what Clarity does. Be careful, Clarity is one of the effects that I would only apply to some parts of the image with the help of the brush tool or later in Photoshop. Homeopathic dose is the key.
One very cool feature in Lightroom is that you can check for highlight clipping by holding the Alt key while moving the Highlight or Whites slider. (The same also applies for the Blacks) We will soon export a tiff to Photoshop, and even in 16bit, what is lost here will be gone forever. So this is a good check to make sure we maintained maximum dynamic range.
This is important. Many photographers still apply sharpening to the entire image, and very often their images are showing strong sharpening halos around the edges and other artifacts. Again the Alt key comes to the rescue. You can define the areas you want to sharpen with high precision. It is absolutely unnecessary to sharpen a blue sky for example, and remember, If you upload your pictures to flickr or 500px, their algorithm will apply further sharpening.
Edit in Photoshop
We are almost done in Lightroom. Before I hand over the image to the mighty Photoshop, I quickly run through all the other features like selective colors and lens distortion (less is more!). I skip the part of playing with gradients and masks and keep this for a detailed tutorial soon. I personally like to do this in PSP anyway because Lightroom is a lame duck in the develop module. So last step, right click and edit in Photoshop.
Part 2 – Photoshop
Although the second part will require some understanding about the features in Photoshop it shouldn’t overstrain you. I condensed what usually takes 3-5 hours into 30min to cover the most important steps. You can pause and repeat anytime or you check some detailed description which I provided below the video. Have fun!
Additional Plugin used: topazlabs
A little sneak preview about the upcoming topics:
- What is Dynamic Range?
- 18hrs Dolomites
- How I saved a destroyed Monster image
- Best JPEG compression
- Nikon vs Canon
- Lightroom & Photoshop
- The Power of Luminance Masks
– Luminance sharpening
– Luminance highlights
– Luminance colors
- Lets talk about taste
- HDR Obsolete – but if, do it right
- Astro Stacking
- Vixen Polarie
- Common Mistakes