Here is why I can’t stop doing Photo Editing…
Here I am leaving for one of my favorite spots. I will drive one hour or so, walk uphill at least 90 minutes with a headlamp. I will get some more bruise and I will have to stop, at least a dozen times to catch my breath.
Why do I leave home at 04:30 am in this early Saturday? I will take a picture of the sunrise my friend. Am I crazy? Maybe not, there is people getting up this early for fishing, hunting or just golfing…
It is now 06:25 and I am on the top of the world (real name is Montagne d’Argent which translate into Silver Mountain). The sky is turning in all kinds of colors, there is clouds, as forecasted, my Induro CT-214 tripod is up and ready on the chosen spot, my Canon 5D Mark III camera with my trusty Canon EF -17-40mm f/4L lens pointing in the proper direction.
Everything is going as planned, I am recording precious moments on the sensor of my camera knowing how rewarding it will be back at home on my desktop screen.
Beside looking at my LCD screen on my camera to make sure that my focusing distance, composition and histogram are adequate, I don’t really look at the pictures being recorded. I know better. What I see on the LCD panel is a very poor representation of what I am seeing and after some work and magic, I will get back on my computer something that is almost as great as what I am seeing.
Here is what I can see on my LCD screen:
It is now time to go back home for breakfast… I am packing everything and I am walking downhill. I now feel the pain in my knees, like every morning I come here, my knees dislike going downhill. Another 90 minutes going down, one hour driving back home and all this for this crappy picture? Well, not really. I know that there is 14 bits of luminosity hidden behind the 8 bits I can see on the back of my LCD monitor and it is now time for Photo Editing.
Photo editing with Adobe Lightroom 4.3
I now need to recreate the colorful image I had in front of me using the various setting in Lightroom. I will do my first work in the Basic panel. Do not be fooled. The Basic Panel is very advanced!
As I have learned, I will work my way from top to bottom.
Let’s talk about Photo Editing!
There are two very distinct areas in this picture. The bottom part is under exposed. The top part is over exposed. The histogram representing this picture is of two mountains at each end with nothing in the middle. This histogram, as always, is from the 8 bits .jpg representation of the picture. I know there is more information on each end and I need to bring it back. As you can see All but Exposure and contrast needed change. By toning down the Highlights and Whites and bringing back the Shadows I was able to restore the beautiful colors of the forest. By boosting saturation, vibrance and clarity I was able to improve the visual presence of the forest.
After doing this, I can now work on the sky. One of the challenges of pushing and pulling these basic sliders in Lightroom is the creation of noise in the picture. Noise is very clear in the sky. I use the Adjustment Brush tool to paint the sky and I worked on exposure, contrast, shadows, clarity, saturation and noise.
Using HDR software on multiple bracketed shots would have done the same. However, for Landscape shot I am often disappointed by HDR software. Tree leaves never stay put long enough to take three bracketed shots. The ghosting that is resulting from this is not very pleasing.
The after picture is a rather good representation of the scene in front of me on this early October 13th, morning of 2012. This is not a great picture. Great pictures need great subjects. This is just another nice sunrise picture over the Laurentian in their full autumn colors. However, should I had a great subject in front of me on this very day, I know that using photo editing in Lightroom 4.3 I could pull it up.