Following on from my post yesterday, today I will describe in this blog post how I edited this image in Lightroom Classic.
I am not going to do this for every image, as this will be very boring. I follow the same process for every image I edit. I will describe my editing process in Lightroom, with the starting point being the HDR file created in Lightroom.
Where I begin editing in the Develop Module
The first job I always do is to crop the image before doing anything else. When I say crop I normally mean make sure that the horizon is dead level. I don’t crop much to be honest, something that was pointed out to me at my BIPP portfolio review.
For this image all I did was select the crop tool, using the keyboard shortcut R, then cycled through the grid overlays until I had the grid you can see in this screenshot. To scroll through the different grid views, use the keyboard shortcut O – this is a really handy thing to know.
I rotated the image so the horizon was level and that was that. Doing this means I lose bits around the edges but I can live with that on this shot. I could add back the bits cropped out in Photoshop, but that is one for another time.
I always do this first, so I have the image how I want it – what is the point of editing parts of an image that aren’t even going to be in the final edit?
After the crop tool there are other tools on this toolbar, which I will come back to later. Here you can see all the panels in the Lightroom Develop Module.
The Basic Panel
The first panel I work in after cropping is the basic panel
This is not such a basic panel – this is the panel where the bulk of the global image adjustment takes place.
I say global adjustments – this means adjustments that affect all of the image, not local adjustments which are applied to a selection of the image, which I come onto much later.
I work through the sliders one by one in the order you see them on the screen.
These are the adjustments I have done to this image.
The adjustments are entirely visual and are achieved by moving the sliders left and right. Moving one slider may impact on a previous adjustment, so there can be a bit of toing and froing to get the look you want. As I say this is an entirely visual exercise.
Lightroom Quick Tip – Use Solo Mode. Right click anywhere apart from in the histogram and select Solo Mode from the drop-down menu. This saves loads of scrolling time as you only have the panel you are working in open.
An explanation of the various part of the basic panel
This is where you can go black and white if you want. Not relevant to this image edit so I will move on.
This is a new feature in Lightroom Classic in version 7.3 (or 7.4). I use Adobe colour for commercial architectural work, and Adobe landscape for landscape and travel work, which is what I have selected here.
Have a play around with the different profiles and see what you get – all the editing in Lightroom is non-destructive after all, and if you ever get to a point where you don’t know what to do just hit reset at the bottom of the screen and you are back to where you started.
This is all about getting the colours in the image right. I shoot in RAW, not JPEG. This means that I can adjust the white balance in Lightroom. Which means that I can set my camera to Auto White Balance and sort it later.
Now I know that this is hardly textbook technique, and that the purists will all be saying that you should get it right in camera, which is of course true, but I want to concentrate on taking photos rather than fiddling with my camera.
This is what I do, and this is how I roll!
If you shoot in RAW you can choose one of the white balance presets, which are
- As Shot
Click on each of presets and you can see what happens to an image – pretty cool eh?
You will notice that I have Custom selected. This is how I do white balance.
I use the eye-dropper tool, circled in red above, and move the eye-dropper to a neutral place, grey if possible. This is normally clouds. I move the eye dropper around until the three numbers are pretty much the same – within 1 of each other is good enough for me.
For architectural work I use a grey card to get a neutral grey, and a colour checker. But for landscape and travel photography this is just fine.
That is custom white balance done.
It sounds complicated but isn’t – custom white balance really is that simple.
Slide right to make the image lighter, left to make the image darker. That’s about it really!
Contrast is the difference between light and dark tones. If you slide the contrast slider to the left look what happens – it goes all flat and horrible. Slide to the right and the image comes to life. Go too far to the right and things start going pear shaped.
There is a sweet spot for contrast, which I find to be 20 – 50 for the kind of photography I do.
And I never slide to the left. Never.
One thing to remember here is that if you have done an HDR Merge in Lightroom you may find that the contrast has been stripped out, so will need adding back in.
Highlights – Shadows – Whites – Blacks
To keep this simple this is what I tend to do, which works for me and gives me consistency with my images. These four are all very much inter-related.
First, I set the black and white points using Lightroom. To do this I hold down the shift key, and then double click on each slider.
Next, I drag the highlights to the left until I like the effect I am getting, and then drag the shadows slider to the right until I like the look.
That is fundamentally that – I might tweak the sliders a bit more but that is all.
Again, these are visual adjustments that I am doing to the image.
Clarity is another form of contrast – move the slider to the right and you get a sharper, crisper image. Images with textures benefit from a good lump of clarity. As with all these things don’t go too far – my rule of thumb is to slide to the right until I like the effect, then slide back to the left a bit – just tone it down so it looks natural.
Clarity is adjusting the contrast mainly in the midtones.
Slide to the left and watch what happens!
I tend to use the range of 20-50 for clarity adjustments.
This is an excellent adjustment, which I have used on this image as there is some haze in the background that I would like to reduce. Dehaze does what it says – it reduces haze.
I only use it when needed – it can also be used to give a further contrast boost to an image but be careful – don’t go too far. And slide to the left and it becomes the un-dehaze tool – it adds haze! If you have a photo with a bit of mist you can make the scene more misty – have a go sliding to the left and see what you get!
My favourite slider
Vibrance enhances the colours in the mid tones – vibrance produces a natural enhancement to the colours in an image. I use vibrance on every image, again typically within the range of 20-50.
Saturation in Lightroom is a bit of a blunt instrument which I very rarely use. Sometimes I slide it to the left to reduce the overall saturation within an image, but normally I just ignore it.
I never slide the saturation slider to the right.
Have and go and see what it does. Not great.
Summary of the basic panel in Lightroom
The Basic Panel in Lightroom is where I do 80% of my image processing. It is far from basic – I don’t know why Adobe call it that!
Have a play with the sliders and see what you can do – it is a remarkably powerful set of tools. And it is all non-destructive.
I will come back to the bits at the top at the end.
Tone Curve Panel
I don’t use this anymore. I look at the tone curve panel as refining of the highlights, shadows, blacks and whites in the basic panel.
I used to use it but was never sure why I was using it. And then I stopped using it completely and nothing changed!
I guess I am not that refined…
By the way, a word about solo mode
If you don’t want a panel to be visible right click anywhere within the panel descriptions and you can deselect a panel from view. Don’t worry – you can add them back by doing the same thing anytime – but why bother having things on view that you don’t use?
This is a great panel for doing subtle adjustments
I rarely bother with Hue, I just use Saturation and Luminance in the HSL panel. With this tool I can change the saturation and luminance of individual colours, and what is even better is that I can do this by clicking on a specific part of the image.
This is what I do.
Here is the Luminance panel with the adjustments I have made.
To make these adjustments all I did was click on the targeted adjustment tool circled in red. I then moved my mouse pointer over the areas I wanted to increase or decrease the saturation, and moved by mouse forward to increase, and backward to decrease the saturation of the colour or colours selected.
This is a such a great but subtle tool that I use on every image.
I used to fiddle around with this panel, but when I started thinking about it I was always doing the same thing. I would fiddle around with this and that, and always end up somewhere between 60 and 90 for the amount with a radius of 1.0 or 1.2.
I added this adjustment to a preset which I apply on import – I don’t touch this panel now, and every picture has the same detail adjustment.
Again, I apply the selections you can see on import to every image, so I don’t need to worry too much about this panel. Why would you not make these adjustments to every image?
I don’t need this – the only thing I would use it for in this image is to straighten the horizon, which I did with the crop tool. There is often more than one way to do an adjustment to an image – this is a case in point.
I use this tool all the time on my architectural photography work, getting buildings all nice and straight and vertical.
I apply a vignette to many images. I apply a -10 vignette to every image on import, and more often than not leave it at that. For this image I have increased the vignette to -24 – there is a specific reason which I will come on to. I don’t touch the other settings.
The reason I use a vignette is to help draw the eye into the picture. The human eye is naturally drawn to the lighter parts of a picture, and these features can help make an image more interesting and appealing, which is after wall what all want.
I just leave this as it is to be honest. Thinking about it I don’t even know why I have not hidden it.
That is global adjustments done.
Now it is back to the top for some local adjustment.
Spot removal tool
This is the tool that is circled in red. It used to be rubbish but now is much better, and if I can use this tool to get rid of all the unwanted stuff meaning I don’t need to go into Photoshop then great.
This is how I use it.
Select the spot removal tool, and then select Visualise Spots at the bottom of the screen – you can see it below circled in red. Then hit 1:1, to give you the actual 1:1 image on your monitor – this is highlighted in red too.
Then hit home and Lightroom takes you to the top left-hand corner of the image. Just click on the blemishes, and when you are done with a screen move on to the next screen using the Page Down key. This will take you in a logical order top left to bottom right.
With this image that worked nicely, I have removed everything I want to and do not need to go into Photoshop.
Which makes me happy.
When I am using this tool, I will turn the Visualise Spots on and off to make sure I am removing blemishes and unwanted things and not boats!
Red Eye Removal
Not needed on this image. Obviously…
I quite often use this to add a graduated filter to a sky, not so much now as the need is much less using HDR Merge in Lightroom.
Radial filter tool
Another of my favourites, which I use on architectural images to add pools of light and provide subtle variations between lights and darks.
For this image I want to lighten the middle cliffs and the rocks in the foreground, the intention being that these lighter areas will take the eye from the foreground, through the middle to the white buildings of Oia on the headland.
This is why I added the vignette, to frame the effect I am looking to achieve.
This is the first addition – note the adjustments to the sliders which are applied within the selected area as I have checked the invert box. If I did not check the invert box, the changes would be applied outside of the selected area.
I know – what were Adobe thinking with that one?
This is the second radial filter, with different settings, applied to the white buildings of Oia.
And here is the adjustment to the rocks.
Note that all three adjustments are different.
That is my editing done. All in Lightroom which is good.
Photoshop – when I need to use it
I use Photoshop to clean up an image and remove unwanted things – that is all.
If I were to need to use Photoshop this is what I would do. And indeed, have done on various images in this set of photos of Santorini, which is why I am mentioning it here in case you were wondering?
And by the way – shock horror - I don’t use layers.
All I do is this.
In Lightroom Classic I right click on an image and choose Edit in Photoshop CC 2018. In Photoshop I use the following tools
- Clone stamp tool
- Spot healing brush
- Patch tool
- And sometime content aware crop (see above the point regarding cropping).
- And sometimes if I need to resize an image for a client, or for a specific print size, I will do that in Photoshop.
But that is all I use Photoshop for.
Having removed the stuff I want to remove I save the image and a new file appears in Lightroom with those adjustments done in Photoshop. These are destructive edits – they cannot be undone. But this is fine as I have the image that was sent to Lightroom sat there unaffected by the work done in Photoshop – I can do the same thing from scratch whenever I want.
I add this image edited in Photoshop to the stack of images containing the three original images, the newly created HDR Merged file and .tif file produced by Photoshop.
This is why I don’t get bogged down in layers.
A word about non-destructive editing
As I did not need to use Photoshop I have a stack containing four images in a stack.
The original three image captures – these have a file extension .CR2
The HDR Merged file – this has a file extension .dng
Had I used Photoshop there would be a fifth image which I would add to that stack with four images in.
The image after editing in Photoshop – this has a file extension .tif
Remember - I can go back to the original images and start all over anytime I want.
The HDR file is a new file created from these images, and the tif file is created by editing the HDR file in Photoshop, but I always have the images I started with.
The HDR Merge is not non-destructive editing per se – a new image is created, and this cant be undone. But the original files are there.
But any other editing done in Lightroom can be undone at any time. So, don’t be afraid of experimenting.
As you will have gathered by now there are lots of things that you can do in Lightroom, and even more things that you can do in Photoshop.
But I have refined my workflow to produce my architectural, travel and landscape photography images. I do not want to spend forever fiddling about in Lightroom and Photoshop – I want to be out taking photos and finding things to photograph and write about.
If you have any questions on this article or need anything clarifying please get in touch with me using the comments box, the contact form or you can email me – all the details are on my home page.
I respond to everyone who takes the time to get in touch and look forward to hearing from you.