Lightroom OnlyLightroom Tips

Day 13 of “Lightroom Only” Month (A Cloudy Day)

Welcome to Day 13 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: A Cloudy Day
Well, I’m not winning any awards with this photo 🙂 But I really wanted to include a photo like this in the series I’m doing this month. See, I’ve been posting a lot of photos taken in beautiful conditions (sunny, great light, etc…). But I figured it was time to see what we could do with a photo taken on a cloudy day. We can’t always get perfect weather right? But sometimes it’s the only weather we get when we’re on a trip, so we have to make the best of it. This photo is one of those times. The clouds and fog settled in when I was on a cruise. I still wanted to shoot the beautiful scenery around me though. But it just looked so flat when I got it in to Lightroom, that I had to get a little creative with it afterwards.

(click to see the image larger)

Photo Details:
Camera: Nikon D800
Lens: Nikon 16-35mm
Aperture: f/6.7
Shutter Speed: 1/180 sec
ISO: 200

Straightening The Photo
First you’ll notice the photo is kinda crooked so I used the Straighten tool (located within the Crop Tool), and dragged along the water/fog line to straighten it.


Basic Processing
The Auto button did a good job here to start with. I did go in after to pull back even further on the Highlights to tone down the sky. I also increased the Clarity to add some contrast.


There’s not much color here to begin with. I did click on the gray clouds with the white balance eye dropper though to get a good white balance point for the photo. I made it a little warmer which I think worked here. From there, I increased the Vibrance to boost the greens. Then I decreased the Saturation just a little to give the photo more of a desaturated look. I think it works for this one because of the dreary day.


The Detail Panel (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. Because there’s so much detail on the sides you can really push the sharpening. And there’s no need for the Masking slider because the whole photo should be sharpened.


The Sky
There’s a lot we can do with the sky here. Believe it or not, there’s a lot of detail and texture up there, but we just can’t see it yet. So I used the Graduated Filter with reduced Exposure and increased Clarity.


The problem I have sometimes is that by dragging the filter down I also darkened the sides of the mountain on the sides of the photo. A little trick to help keep that from happening is to increase the Shadows slider to counteract the reduced Exposure. Since the sky doesn’t really have any shadows, it’ll usually only effect the darker areas and leave the sky alone.


If you’re really looking for some dramatic skies, you can also add another graduated adjustment to the sky with increased Clarity. You can either drag a new one or right-click and choose Duplicate to make a copy of an existing adjustment. It’s hard to notice here, but it does add to the overall dramatic feel and texture/detail in the clouds.


I was standing on a boat so you can still see parts of it on the bottom and middle left. I used the Spot Removal Tool (in Heal mode) to paint away with the areas. Lightroom didn’t pick a good sample point right away though, so I had to help out a little after the fact and move the sample point over closer to what I was painting over.


Finishing Touches
A vignette works good here. And I was able to use the one in the Effect panel since I really just wanted to darken the edges. Not too strong though, because the photo already has a darker feel to it. 


What Else?
I’m not crazy about the boats in the middle. There’s not enough of them there to really make an impact so, to me, they’re more of a distraction. Lightroom didn’t work that great at removing them so I’d probably turn to Photoshop to help clone them away. Also, this photo would have been perfect if I had onOne Software’s Perfect Effects (the Dynamic Contrast filter). Those clouds have so much detail and texture in them and I know Dynamic Contrast would have pulled it out even better than Lightroom.

Here’s a quick Before/After:

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[imagetab width=”836″ height=”558″] [/imagetab]
[imagetab width=”836″ height=”558″] [/imagetab]

See you back here tomorrow!