Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Example: RAW Processing in Lightroom 4

In the future I want to give you a few examples of how I process my Dubai Night Cityscapes in Lightroom 4. When I first got into working with Lightroom I was actually quite surprised at how much can be accomplished just by carefully working with the Basic Panel and the HSL Panel when developing RAW files. The following examples are to encourage you to get more confident of working with Lightroom and messing about with the sliders. Don't worry, you won't break anything! Everything you do in Lightroom is non-destructive, the original data of an image is not altered and no information is lost. If you are not happy with your changes just double-click on the center position of a slider and it will go back to its default setting.

Today's example shows Downtown Dubai at night. My intention, when processing the RAW file, was to enhance the purple glow in the sky and to somewhat desaturate the yellow street lights. The image below shows the final result after applying some changes in Lightroom 4:

ISO 200, 14mm, f11, 25s

So how to go about this? Here is a screenshot showing what it looked like straight from the camera compared with the final version:

The camera was set on Automatic White Balance when I took the picture. Night shots tend to have a rather warm, orange look when taken with Automatic White Balance. This is the Basic Panel right after importing the photo into Lightroom. It shows the original Color Temperature and Tint for this image:

Below is the Basic Panel after developing the RAW file to my liking. Note that I have significantly changed the Color Temperature and the Tint. 

For a more elaborate guide explaining the purpose of all sliders please see my blog post about RAW Processing in Lightroom

Now let's turn our attention to the HSL Panel of the Develop Module in Lightroom 4. This Panel allows you to change the Hue, the Saturation and the Luminance of eight different Color Channels. This offers great possibilities in terms of giving your photo a distinct look and leaving your own footprint on its appearance. Note that the default setting is 0 for all sliders. This is the HSL Panel after I had applied all changes:

I don't think it makes sense to elaborately explain all changes in detail (unless you have a question, of course). Above all, this post should encourage you to start playing with the sliders and to see for yourself what effect they will have on the image you are working on. The great thing about HSL is that you can target specific shades of color in your image to enhance what you feel should be more emphasized.

Have fun! If you have any questions please feel free to drop me a message.



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