Lightroom Tips

The Butterfly Whisperer

Click here to see the full size image from a photo shoot I did over the weekend. Yep, it’s a butterfly and yep I really know how to party on the weekends don’t I? 😉 I thought I’d share my editing process. First… the shoot. I actually bought a couple Monarch butterflies from a website. I’d tried my hand at going to a butterfly garden but it didn’t turn out well, so I figured a more controlled environment would be better (like my house). Next, I set everything up on my back porch at around 6pm with the sun still overhead but going down. I used a:

– Nikon D-200 with the Nikon 105mm Macro VR lens (which I LOVE!) and everything was shot on a tripod
– My wireless cable release really saved the day.
– Since I was outside my Hoodman Loupe was critical. It made knowing whether or not I got “the shot” so much easier.

This shot was one of my favorites so here’s what I did in Lightroom.
White Balance: The original was a little too warm so I cooled it a bit with the Temperature setting.
Exposure: The Exposure didn’t need much tweaking but I found the flower overpowered the butterfly so I decreased it a bit (more on this in a minute). I left Recovery and Fill Light alone and increased the blacks just a little.
Presence:I bumped the Clarity up to around 50 and increased the Vibrance just a little since the overall color was already pretty vibrant.
Tone Curve:Used the Medium Contrast curve.
HSL/Color:Used the Target Adjustment tool in the HSL/Color panel to increase the orange saturation on the butterfly.
Photoshop:I used a Curves adjustment layer and my painting with light technique to lighten the butterfly since I wanted to draw more attention to it. I used the Burn tool to darken a few areas on the wing and finished off with some sharpening. Finally, I add a slight lens vignette back in LR to darken the edges a little. So there ya have it. The story of how I became the butterfly whisperer 🙂