Lightroom OnlyLightroom Tips

Day 12 of “Lightroom Only” Month (travel photography in Norway)

Welcome to Day 12 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: Travel/Landscape Photography in Norway
Here’s another photo from my personal portfolio. It’s a photo I took on a trip to Norway last June and I even wrote about the story behind the photo over on my blog in case you want to read it (it’s an interesting story to see how I got this photo). Anyway, I thought this one would make a good Lightroom only editing example so let’s have at it. Here’s the Before image.

(click to see the image larger)

Photo Details:
Camera: Nikon D800
Lens: Nikon 70-200mm
Aperture: f/8
Shutter Speed: 1 sec.
ISO: 100

Basic Processing
I tried the Auto button on this one and wasn’t crazy about it so I reset and just increased the Exposure to start with. Then I did the Alt/Option trick to set the Whites and Blacks. I pulled back a little on the Highlights and opened the Shadows just a little as well.


The photo is WAY too cool as well. This was right around sunrise and everything had a warm feel to it so I wanted to warm it. Rather than just dragging the Temp/Tint sliders, I took the White Balance Eyedropper and clicked on something that I knew was a gray-ish color. I know the techies out there say that a good white balance point needs to be 18% gray bla bla bla. For me, I find that clicking on something that should be gray-ish works great most of the time. I also added some Clarity and Saturation to the photo. Not much though.


The Detail Panel (Noise and Sharpening)
Once again, there’s no noticeable noise in the photo so I left the Noise sliders alone. I did add some detail though. Like always, I increased the Amount, Radius, and Detail sliders. There’s a ton of tiny details here so the photo can definitely hold a lot of sharpening. And there’s no need for the Masking slider because, to me at least, the whole photo should be sharpened and there’s no reason to hide the sharpening from anywhere.


Spots and Retouching
There’s a few places to retouch here. I actually did this in Photoshop the first time I processed the photo, but Lightroom works just fine for it too. While I like the yellow boat, I removed the red buoy that’s attached.


I also zoomed in and just cleaned up the water. There’s a ton of little spots and junk in there, so I painted over them to make the reflection more pristine.


Next, I cleaned up the area in the trees. There’s some stray branches and even holes in the trees that show the sky behind it. That’s actually a big area of retouching landscapes for me. Any time you see holes in the trees where it just shows white in the background from the sky, I try to get rid of those. They’re distracting, especially if they’re along the edges.


Lastly, and I almost hate to do this because it’s so picky, but I clean up the skylight windows on the houses. I don’t know why – but I just kept looking at them and they’re not a flattering part of the house so I got rid of ’em 🙂 Oh and by the way, Lightroom never chose a good sample point to clone from so I usually had to move it after I painted on the skylight.


Finishing it Off With a Vignette
I finished off with a vignette, but not from the Effects panel. I really wanted to spotlight the houses so I dragged an oval-like shape around them. I even softened the edges a little with the Feather setting at the bottom.


What Else?
This one worked perfectly in Lightroom. It’s almost a classic example of a photo that doesn’t need anything more. That said, if I had onOne Software’s Perfect Effects (the Dynamic Contrast filter), I would have used it here. With so many little details, it would have probably worked nicely. Not that it would be a night/day difference, but it’s subtle effect that I happen to like to finish things off with. Other than that, Lightroom rocked here.

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See you back here tomorrow!