Anthony asked me how I post processed the photo below, taken on the same day as Genie in the Park. So, instead of typing out some quick vague instructions, I decided to quickly put together some screenshots of my settings in lightroom and put it on my blog for the curious. This is not really a fully fledged tutorial, just a step-by-step insight into what I was thinking – to be honest I’m probably not well qualified to write a tutorial!
I’ll go through my thought process as well as screenshots of the actual lightroom settings. I’ve only used lightroom, no photoshop except to add the watermarks.
To start with, here’s the finished photo:
Stage 0: The original image
I didn’t take this photo – Lee took it :) We used my Canon 400D and cheap 50mm f/1.8 lens. We had the sun behind and to the side of the main subjects – the puppy and the puppy holder. We chose an area of the park that did not have any objects in the foreground (for example, trees) which would distract from the main focus of the portrait.
I have long admired the yellowy light of late afternoon photographs and wanted to recreate the warmth of a lazy afternoon in this image. I always try to get an idea of what I want the finished image to look like before I start playing with the image, it makes the process a lot easier – instead of a random trial and error, it becomes a more focused exercise in figuring out which tools will create the look I want. So in this instance I had two main objectives: 1) make the image warmer and 2) brighten the image /wash the image with light.
Stage 1: Basic adjustments
In order to achieve a warmer look, I bumped the temperature up as well as the tint and the vibrance (see below). To brighten the image, I pushed the exposure up just over one stop.
Note: I shoot in RAW so I can push the image better in lightroom. Some of these settings in lightroom do not work the same on JPGs, particularly “Basic: Exposure” and the settings under “Camera calibration”. It is important to try and get the exposure right in-camera rather than fixing in post work (that is fairly time consuming) but sometimes you just don’t see the same thing on your viewfinder as you do on the computer and by then, it is too late to fix things in-camera. It is handy to shoot in RAW so you have the leeway to play with your image afterwards.
Here’s what the image looked like after these, closer to what I wanted already!
Stage 2: Further tweaking
I liked the way the image was looking after the basic adjustments, but it felt like something was missing, it was looking quite faded and flat to me. I wanted to feel more warmth in the image so I started playing with Camera Calibration, bumping the tint towards purple, making the reds more yellow and more saturated and reducing the blue in the image. The green settings are pretty close to not being changed at all, I doubt +1 / -1 make too much of a difference, I did post processing work on this image in a pretty slapdash way ^^;
Here’s how it looked after those changes, quite a subtle difference:
Stage 3: Add vignette
Vignettes are pretty cliche and it’s up to personal taste whether you add them or not. I like the way vignettes add a frame to the image. In this case, I only wanted a very subtle vignette so I pushed the slider into the negative just far enough to get a shadow around the edge but not so far that it’s presence was very obvious and overwhelmed the image. If I am in the mood / have lots of time, I usually vignette in photoshop so I can place the dark edge fields myself around the focal objects, rather than using the preset edges which can often overlap over the main subject of the picture and look awkward.
Here’s the image with the vignette added:
And that’s it! It is not a technically well-exposed image but in my opinion that’s not always the most important thing, depending on how much artistic licence you want to take. I like using post work to achieve a different feel than the cold reality the camera captures, particularly by tweaking the colouring. Adjustments in colour can significantly change the atmosphere / emotions of a photograph.
Hope someone finds this interesting / useful. I don’t have the time to post many tutorials of how my post work is done but this one was simple and less daunting to write about :)