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Monday 27 January 2014

Seven Steps To Lightroom Magic

With the recent release of Abobe Lightroom 5 for a mere $149.95 the amateur photographer now has the ability to enhance and improve a photo in the comfort of their own home. Lightroom is really the digital equivalent to a chemical darkroom back when we all shot with film. The enhancements that were done in the darkroom would improve exposure, clarity, contrast, pretty much everything you can now do in Lightroom. Let me take you through the steps I go through with most of the photos I create.

Here is a shot of my Lightroom catalogue. From this catalogue I can search for photos using a variety of methods from keyword searching, to star rating, and a host of other ways. Once I identify photos I would like to edit it's as simple as highlight them and click the develop tab.

To the right is the first view you get when entering Lightrooms develop module. You will have a series of thumbnails across the bottom and the thumbnail you want to work on is highlighted and appears in the main viewing area. The photo you see here has not been altered from the original in camera shot.

Down the right side of the work palette you will see the basic menu where you will begin tweaking your photo from good to great. It is important to remember that the path to a great photo is starting with a great foundation and looking at the photo I am working on it has the right recipe. The composition I really like, the lighting and exposure is very good and now to make a few fine tuning adjustments.


I like to start with the highlights, shadows, whites, and blacks, in that order. I will make adjustments using the sliders and when I work the whites and blacks I use Alt while adjusting them. This makes the screen appear black and when I start to "Clip" (a phrase used when ever or under exposing)the blacks or whites it shows on the screen.

You see how the adjustment sliders have been altered and now the photo has a little more punch. I think it's on its way to a great portrait. Next a little clarity and variance.

Here is the portrait after clarity and hue have been adjusted. The third slider in this grouping is saturation. I tend to avoid using this slider as I feel that when the photo is printed the colour tends to become quite garish and unreal.

Now that we have made these adjustments we can sharpen and vignette the photo giving it a clear definition and a little artistic feel.

And here it is the finished product. All the changes made to this photo were done in Lightroom and I have done these same adjustments in my darkroom, when I still shot film. People argue that by doing this enhancement you are not staying pure to the original picture, however there is no difference between what was done here in Lightroom and what I used to do in my darkroom. Your photos can be far better with just a few moments of time and a little tweaking here and there. It is no different than what photographers have been doing since the beginnings of time.

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