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Day 1 of “I’m Giving Up Photoshop” Month

Hey folks! Welcome to the first day in my self-project-ish, month-long postings of images I’m only using Lightroom to edit. If you’re just coming in to reading this and haven’t read the original post where I wrote why I’m doing this, then make sure you check that out too. Okay, here goes:

The Photo
This photo was taken at Sol Duc River in Olympic National Park this past June. Most of the photos you see from Sol Duc are taken from the bridge in the top left you see in the photo. After moving around a bit, I settled on the location looking back toward the bridge.


Photo Details:
Camera: Nikon D800
Lens: Tamron 24-70mm
Aperture: f/8
Shutter Speed: 1/2 second
ISO: 100
Tripod: Really Right Stuff TVC-33

First I went to the Basic panel and adjusted the overall Exposure and tone. I shot this photo in a 5-shot bracket so I actually had a brighter version. But the shutter speed was longer and the water became too smooth, so I chose the darker photo that still has some texture in the waterfall. After the Exposure, I adjusted the Whites and Blacks sliders by holding down the Option/Alt key and dragging each slider until I had a white/black point.

Overall I like my waterfall scenes warm so I adjusted the Temp slider to the right a bit.

(click to see the image larger)

Camera Calibration Presets
From there I went to the Calibration panel and changed the Profile to Landscape. I adds a nice contrast and color to the photo, but it does make it a little darker. So I just went back to the Basic panel and tweaked the Shadows setting to open up the dark areas a bit. I also reduced the Highlights setting to bring back some more detail in the water.



I cranked up the Clarity setting pretty high here. There’s lots of little details that really work great with Clarity. If I had my way though, I’d have used onOne Software’s Perfect Effects 8 and the Dynamic Contrast effect instead. But Clarity really does well here. I left the Vibrance and Saturation alone though, since the photo seemed to have plenty of color saturation.


Cropping and Lens Correction
Next I went to the Lens Corrections panel and turned on the auto Enable Profile Correction setting. The trees in the back seem like they were leaning from the wide angle lens and I tried the Upright setting but it didn’t do much. So I went to the Manual tab and adjusted the Vertical perspective setting to help out. Then I checked the Constrain Crop checkbox to get rid of the un-cropped area left over from the perspective adjustment.


I prefer Perfect Effects (mentioned above under Clarity) for my sharpening and detail work, but we’ll go with the Detail panel here for sharpening. Again, there’s a lot of small details in this photo so it’ll hold a lot of sharpening. I moved the Amount setting and Detail setting up quite a bit. I also adjusted the Radius setting to 1.4 (which is where I usually leave it at). Don’t forget you have to be zoomed in to 100% to really see the sharpening.


Cloning and Retouching
Finally, we’ll finish up with some cloning and retouching, with the Spot Healing Brush, to get rid of some of those distractions like the people on the bridge, in the background, as well as the fallen tree across the water. This is where it gets a little tricky.
1. The fallen tree: I found cloning out smaller sections worked better here. I also found (after many attempts) that using a low Feather setting on the brush helped out. That’s actually opposite of what I normally do, but it seemed to work well here. I also didn’t remove the entire tree, just the area over the water. I know it’s not perfect, and this is one place I think Photoshop could help out, but unless you really zoom in, you’d have a hard time knowing what I did here.


2. The people on the bridge and in the background: same thing here. I used a smaller brush and removed each one separately.


A Vignette
I think you’ll see throughout this month that just about everything gets a vignette in the Effects panel 🙂


What Else?
I was really able to do most of what I wanted with this one. There’s really only one area I’d improve on, and I’m sure it’ll be a common theme among most of these posts – retouching. Ideally, I’d have used a creative combination of healing, cloning, along with content-aware stuff in Photoshop. That would have covered my tracks removing the large fallen tree, as well as the people on the bridge. While I was able to do it with Lightroom, it’s not perfect (pretty damn close though). I would also use cloning and healing to remove some of those distracting branches sticking out from the bottom left. No matter what I did in Lightroom it just wasn’t happening.