Video – Before/After

Happy Monday folks. I hope all the dads out there had a nice Fathers Day yesterday. I know I did. Its been about 150 degrees F here in Florida lately (well, it feels like it at least) so I spent the day in the pool with the kids. Anyway, today I prepared another Before/After video. It uses a lot of the same techniques as before and I thought about redoing it with another photo after I finished. Then I realized… but this is real. I use these same techniques all the time so why go and fish for another photo just to show you something different (and that I probably don’t run into as much). I know its got a few different angles on things in it, but more importantly I think it should start showing you that the toolset we use between Photoshop and Lightroom can be very simple. Enjoy!

Click here to download the Video

Click here to download the Full-Res Video


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  1. Really digging these before/after tutorials. I think these really help to tie things together.

    Keep them coming and thanks!

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  2. Why is the tutorial down? πŸ™

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  3. Very Nice tutorial as always Matt!!! I love yr Blog!

    Its funny to read the comments of Gav and Joseph, it seems to me that some people have real conversation in a post of someones blog:-)

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  4. Matt,

    I really have enjoyed these Before/After videos. They have combined the best of all your tips, but also showed a workflow that makes it easier to implement all those tips. More, please! By the way, I shared your video with my Digital Workflow class at College of Dupage – it neatly summarized what we had learned and taught us new things as well!

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  5. Thanks and greeting from The Netherlands. I love the tips you have and give. Nice!

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  6. Matt

    As it didn’t seem like you used the PS clone panel to modify the angle when you cloned the roof, why would you not have removed that spot in Lightroom? I’ve always found the LR Spot Removal tool perfectly fine for something like this. Anything I’m missing??

    And, thanks for these. Always great to see the workflow. I’ve picked up tons of tips from these vids. Greatly appreciated!

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  7. Matt,

    No point of view about right or wrong – to each his own in that respect, but thank you for the ongoing education and insight into how the tools at our disposal can be used.

    I’m sure I’ll use the techiques I’m learning from your videos, sometimes to simply get from my raw files the image I saw on the day and sometimes to change the results to something I want to hang on my wall…either way you help me continue to learn in easy to follow ways.

    So thank you!

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  8. Not to beat a dead horse, but here goes…

    I understand the purists’ point of view (especially since my background includes many years as a photojournalist), but photography serves a lot more than photojournalism and other documentary purposes. It is ART. Photographers have used complimentary techniques beyond the process of creating the original image on film for years. From retouching negatives and prints, to toning using chemicals not long after Daguerre first exposed his plate (thanks to PS & LR, I don’t have to go shopping at chemical stores anymore). Like the other Joseph said, photography is a journey, and it’s up to you what tools you use and to what extent – to effect your final result. Even in photojournalism, there is a certain latitude to what can and what can not be modified in an image to make it more visually accepted (without altering the material facts, such as replicating smoke clouds coming off an Israeli airstrike in Lebanon, by a local Reuters stringer back in 2006). Associated Press as well as other news gathering organizations have published books and internal communications as to those guidelines.

    When it comes to ART, you, the artist, get to make the choice of tools to use and techniques to employ. If you choose to remain narrow-minded, that is solely your choice. The only important feedback from the viewer is on the final result.

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  9. love the before/after series! learning lots. please keep it up.

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  10. Aloha & mahalo, Matt!
    LOVE and appreciate your skills, man! I know a short cut to inverting your layer mask…control i…or on Mac…command i…inverts that layer mask so much quicker and easily.
    The video rocks…and appreciate the alignment trick. One more under my belt!

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  11. Hey Matt,
    Love the before/after tutorials. I just had a quick question on this one. You did a LR tutorial a little while back about post crop vignetting in PS instead of LR. But in this video you were doing some clean up in PS and then took it back to LR before adding the vignette. Is there a reason you didn’t just do the post crop vignette in PS while you were there? Thanks.

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  12. I couldn’t find a contact link so I thought I should ask my question here. Do you create a virtual copy when retouching your images or do you retouch the original file? If so (either way) could you please shed some light on the pros and cons of both choices.

    Love this blog!

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  13. Hi Matt,
    I really have enjoyed the before and after demos. I subscribe through iTunes and they always download great; however, the last two podcasts will not transfer to my iPod. Is there a known reason for this or is it something on my end? Any help would be appreciated and thanks again for taking the time to do the demos, as I always look forward to them.

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  14. Man, this makes me want to get back over to the Palouse from Seattle!

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  15. Matt,

    Thanks! I have learned so much from watching your videos. Love the before and after ones! Great way to teach.


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  16. I’ve done this all these times. It helps with lightroom and Photoshop CS3. I never have any problem with it. πŸ™‚

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  17. Thanks for the video, Matt. It’s always good to learn how others handle their workflow because mine is still in a state of evolving.

    Photo manipulation has been around for decades, not just in the digital age. Excluding photojournalism, I think it’s fine to flesh out your vision in post as you work toward the end result. After all, the masters of darkroom processes have always done it.

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  18. Matt … only problem I noticed in the video is you copied a mask from another layer to use on the sharpening layer … after … you corrected perspective/distortion on a different layer … wouldn’t that mask be off just a bit?

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  19. Hey Matt,
    I had a question about workflow. I just purchased a D300, and there are some really great features that can only be accessed through Capture NX since I’m a full time NEF shooter. Features like Active-D lighting and especially the Chromatic Aberration Detection. The problem is that I am also exclusively a Lightroom user. My question is, if and how you have integrated Capture NX into your Lightroom workflow to take advantage of these features.


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  20. Great before/after video!! FYI, Lightroom 2.4 and ACR 5.4 updates are now available from Adobe now.

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  21. @ Jack Booth

    Do you know about the camera profiles in Lightroom? I think you have to have Lightroom 2 to use them. They mimic the way your camera shows the picture on the screen in the back of your camera. So when you use them, you have a better starting point, one that matches how you saw the shot on the back of your camera when you took the photograph. I understand what you are talking about when you say “dull, flat raw file”, but those camera profiles help out a lot. They are found in Develop under Camera Calibration. If you already know all about those then I’m sorry, I just wanted to help you out!

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  22. Okay Shawn let’s shake hands, and I like to drink Summerfest from Sierra Nevada.
    I guess I was worked up over Joseph’s (the first one) comments, and I carried that over to you Shawn. His comment was definitely rude (by his own admission he knows what he says comes off as rude). And looking at your comment again I see that you aren’t being rude. I do agree that there is a place where we shouldn’t really retouch a image, although I think that is place is restricted to photojournalism. There is something about seeing reality, as gritty or unattractive as it may be sometimes, represented in a photograph. But I hold a view that unless you are intending to shoot for the purpose of photojournalism, then using manipulative tools like Photoshop and Lightroom shouldn’t be looked down upon but fully utilized to enhance the final product. If one looks at the image he/she has taken, and isn’t pleased with a certain aspect of that image, that person shouldn’t just shrug and say “It is part of the photograph!”. With these tools at our disposal we should feel free to do what ever we want to do to the 0’s and 1’s that represent our image. But these are just my opinions and I am entitled to them as much as you are to yours Shawn, and I do respect that those are your opinions (even if they are wrong! Okay, that was meant as a joke, but I understand that tone can’t be easily interpreted in text.) Cheers!

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  23. Matt. Keep these coming. The most difficult part of digital photography for me, even with the relatively sophisticated EOS 5D, is taking a rather dull, flat raw file from, say, a dawn shot at Lake Moraine, and doing enough _ but not too much _ corrective work in Lightroom to make the picture what it should be. There’s a fine line here, and it really helps to see how you handle similar shots. Digital capture is just a starting point, and your videos help me figure out where the stopping point should be. Thanks again.

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  24. Sorry Matt. I was kinda harsh there. Never intended it to get nasty. I’ll drop it now. My apologies, Joseph Flores.

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  25. Elitist? No. But my kind does spew a lot of drivel. You obviously love to show that the keyboard is something only you can master. Perhaps if the camera was one of them your toes wouldn’t be in my way. Thanks for the support Matt. Keep up the great site. As I said, you often mention something I can use. Use, I say, not mimic. How’s that, Joseph Flores, I’ll have a double.

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  26. Thanks for the apology Joseph. Hopefully its intended toward Shawn as well. While his opinion conflicts with mine, he was very respectful about it. I certainly didn’t get an elitist vibe from it.
    “Crap” and “Spews” and “your kind” are kinda harsh words. Again, if some one is going to disagree thats totally ok. I just ask that everyone does it in the respectful way that Shawn did here.

    Anyway. Thanks Shawn… thanks Joseph… shake hands, buy each other a drink, and I bet a pretty cool discussion about photography would take place.

    – Matt K

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  27. Matt,

    I wanted to apologize for my offensive remarks to some of the above (I tried to keep it very civil). I do believe that we are all entitled to our opinions, but opinions of these sort really get under my skin! I see people of this nature as people not willing to learn, but to judge other’s for not having a work flow similar to theirs.
    I wanted to say that these Before/After lessons are some of the best, because it shows the potential of these programs! It also causes me to stop and look at a photo a second longer to see if it is really garbage, or if it is something that with a few minutes of work could be really nice.

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  28. @Shawn

    I would say you are in the same boat as Joseph. You want to come off as sounding like some photographer who is elitist, believing that photography is this pure form only some can master. “If it can’t be down right in the camera it shouldn’t be done at all!” and other crap like that is what spews from your kind. Here is a tip that I think you should take and leave with… all the shortcuts for lightroom can be found here:

    There, now you don’t have to return to a site whose methods you clearly disagree with (as evidence from the above post and other’s on other message boards of this site), and you can stop posting such pretentious drivel! This is a site to teach people how to use lightroom and photoshop from teacher Matt Kloskowski, not a platform for you to boost yourself and your photography up!

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  29. Matt,
    very well done tutorial. Lots of information here.
    I was wondering if in general you could make the picture you are working on available for download so one could actually train on the side. (kinda similar to what Scott Kelby does for any material that he goes through in his books.)

    This would be most useful I think..

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  30. As a traditionalist, read purist, I gotta agree with Joseph here. Matt’s tutorials and tips are great, no question. They helped me get a handle on the various functions LR boasts, but that’s all. The keyboard shortcuts Matt mentions help my workflow enormously, though. That said, I would never even consider having PS on my machine. Dust is a fact of life in digital, as is noise and the fact that digital is inherently soft. These things require post processing, but I figure if what I do at the camera using filters such as diffuse or polarize or neutral grey grads, etc, isn’t enough then the shot isn’t made. Remove dust, remove noise, sharpen the image, global exposure, sat, brightness and contrast adjustments, sure. But that pop can or tree stump, whatever, is part of the scene you shot. It’s too easy to create a lie with what digital allows somebody manipulating an image to totally change. The difference between painting and photography is that the photographer can’t just not include the tree stump in the meadow. That’s what I love about actually creating an image. It happens right here, right now.

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  31. Matt,
    These before/after videos are **AWESOME**. Please keep doing these, some of your best work.

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  32. Thanks for the great tutorial Matt!
    Like so many other people, I have loved the workflows. I have put everything I have learnt into practice and created images, I at least am very happy with. When are you bringing your Lightroom circus to the UK??!!!

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  33. Hi Matt.
    Watching your video tutorial. Thought about the lens vignetting. I used to get this all the time when using my Nikkor 18-200mm lense with the lens hood on. Now I leave it off for most situations and the results are much better – no vignetting. I also turned VR off and believe I get sharper focused pictures now.
    Thanks for your tutorial.

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  34. Very nice… there’s always sth new to discover, keep it up!

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  35. @Joseph

    I understand what you are trying to say, about what you see as excessive retouching. I would only agree with you when it comes to photojournalism. Otherwise, the point of photography is to go on a journey of many decisions to create a final image that is very pleasing to the eye. We start that journey the second we turn on our cameras. We make decisions with our apertures, creating a depth of field that forces our eyes to only see our subject. We make decisions with the shutter speed, determining how dark or light a particular part of our photograph should be. People add special filters to warm the scene or reduce the haze of the environment. Flashes are used to fill the light, reflectors are used to bounce light to some sweet spot of our choosing, and defusers are used to soften harsh light. All these are decisions that a photographer must make to create a final product that pleases his and others eyes. All these steps actually manipulate how the final image will look. You would never scoff those tools, those methods of manipulation, because for some reason you have placed those decisions into the box of your mind that you label “photography”. And it is a limited, small box. I could see someone with that sort of viewpoint looking down on other’s photographs, second guessing every decision they’ve made because it doesn’t fit into your box of “photography”. You’ve done it already! Second guessing a renowned photographer and teacher! One can only assume that you aren’t here to learn or admire, but to condemn (as you already have) someone who doesn’t see photography as you do! Lightroom and Photoshop are just more tools to manipulate your photograph (as you’ve been doing all along) as you see fit to produce the final image. No one would have a second thought about removing a pimple for a graduating senior’s portrait (at least no reasonable person). Sure, makeup might have hidden the blemish. But Adobe has created tools that could remove a teenager’s blemish that looks more natural, more pleasing to the eye than caked on foundation! Surely you have cloned over a dead patch of grass when it suited the picture! What is different here, with what Matt did? The final image is still the same, a red barn with a blue sky and a green field. Only Matt’s “after” shot was more pleasing to look at than his “before” shot. I for one am very grateful for the lesson, because all the summation of all of his tips will help me make my images more pleasing to look at. I want to see how I can better finish my journey of decisions to create my photograph. You comment is really a way for you to pump yourself up, and you’ve been called on it. In the process you merely come off as pretentious!

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  36. Hey, Matt, another great tutorial. I love them. When are you planning on writing “A Smart Object book”, something like your Layers book? :). Seriously, can you recommend a Kelby Training class or a book I could learn more about this?

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  37. @Gav

    I don’t dislike photo editing, up to a certain level.
    As you, I also love LR/PS and LRKT.
    Why doesn’t LR have a proper clone tool?
    I understand your point, but why can’t I express mine? comments are not only to agree, it may be not as destructive as you think.
    Best regards

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  38. Matt, excellent video! The integration topic of LR with CS is one that, at least I, would like to learn as much as I can about – essentially what and when to leverage each regardless of the fact that there is some overlap… keep these coming – thanks again

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  39. @Joseph

    Why would you even browse a Lightroom blog if you dislike photo editing?
    To each his own, and some things are better left unsaid.

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  40. Why bother taking the picture in the first place? why don’t you directly clone some textures of grass, sky, etc to make your master piece? Are not all these distractions that you constantly erase part of the photography, and create the image it self? Sorry, but this is not photography any more, you are more near to applying textures and light to a 3D model.
    Please don’t get me wrong, I don’t mean to be rude, I’m maybe to passionate. Maybe your eyes are getting used to it, and your level of acceptance is higher, much higher, than mine. In my eyes it look all wrong, but they are my eyes at the end.

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  41. hey matt!

    i just digg how the whole integration thing works.

    my question is ..

    how can you do the smart object thing if your using CS2?
    that is grey’d out in the open options in lightroom πŸ™

    is there a different way to do the same thing ?


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  42. Thanks folks! A few answers:

    memekode – They only work if you’re using CS4

    Jim – Just Cmd (PC: Ctrl) click on the layer mask to turn it into a selection.

    Robert – We were there with the LR2 Tour in early Dec. Unfortunately that’s probably the only LR2 stop in LA this year.

    Ron (below) – Smart Objects aren’t in CS2. You’d have to go Edit in Photoshop twice from LR and bring the two different images together in Photoshop manually.

    – Matt K

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  43. Matt,

    Nice video. When are you bringing your Lightroom 2 Tour to Los Angeles? Weather in SoCal is a lot cooler than in Florida.


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  44. Greetings Matt,

    A good flow! I could not follow how you turned the selection into a layer mask. Could you post that?

    Thank you,


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  45. Wow, great job. Thanks for sharing. I really need to go back and watch more of these. Gavin posted the link in Twitter, pointing to this video.

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  46. Thanks Matt. It’s always good to see others workflow and when I watch you in action I pick up all kinds of little things that I has missed. I didn’t even know about using backslash for before and after. Sweet.


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  47. Love all your tutorials. I have just recently started using Lightroom 2.0 and have CS3. I was wondering if you could tell me whether or not smart objects and merging to HDR are possible using these two versions or if I need CS4? They seem to be greyed out and all I can do is edit the file in PS. I am sure you have answered this but thought I would ask. Thanks

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  48. Hi Matt,
    Never really got used to Lightroom, but I do shoot RAW so these tutorials you do suit me just fine with my Camera RAW adjustments.
    Thanks for another really nice lesson,

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  49. Most definitely love the before and after videos — I find the tips very useful for everyday application in my retouching!

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  50. Thanks, Matt…really diggin’ the before/after tutorials, please keep ’em coming. I used the concepts you described in a previous before/after tutorial on one of my own images and I was pleasantly surprised at how easy it was to do, and more importantly, the results.

    Thanks again for everything you do for us. πŸ™‚

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