This is a new edition of Cooking RAWs series where I ask people to send me one of their unprocessed RAW photos and I would give them a few ideas how to approach the Lightroom editing in the most efficient way.
Normally, I demonstrate how to create multiple editing versions using Lightroom preset based editing which allows us to streamline and speed up the entire process. Today, I am taking a different approach by showing you how to edit a challenging photo which goes beyond the preset editing.
The main challenge with this photo is it is heavily underexposed. Bruce was shooting directly into the sun and the bright solar spot fooled the metering system of the camera and it resulted in the exposure a few stops below the optimal value.
The way I approach such challenging lighting conditions is I check camera histogram first and then I use Exposure Compensation functionality of the camera to increase the exposure by desired value.
If I drag the Exposure slider to the right, the +2.0 gives us the proper exposure.
It means that by boosting the Exposure Compensation by two stops during the time of taking the photo, would have given Bruse the right exposure.
Total time: 2min
As usual for my editing, the first stop is to improve the composition.
The main issue I have with the capture is it is too busy. The most attractive areas of the photo are the sunset, the ferry, the cloud formation and people watching the sunset. I felt that the rest of the elements of the photo dilutes the composition.
By changing the aspect ratio I eliminated unimportant parts of the composition and emphasized the most interesting ones.
I used the Crop Overlay tool to crop the image. I also changed the aspect ratio from 3 x 2 to 1 x 1.
Lightroom Rapid Editing
Total time: 5min
If you are not sure what is Lightroom Rapid Editing, please check my detailed tutorial “Lightroom Rapid Editing System”.
I used Point Lobos preset from Landscape Collection in combination with the TOOLKIT adjustments.
Lightroom Editing Formula: Point Lobos (3, 32, 38)
Total time: 1min
Since original image was underexposed it had excessive noise in the dark areas and when we boosted the exposure the noise became prominent.
I had to manually increase Luminance Noise Reduction in the Details panel.
Total time: 5min
After I applied various editing settings including contrast, clarity, vibrance and saturation, the edges around the sun became too hard and contrasted and I did not like it.
I used the Radial Filter with the following setting to make the sun area more highlighted.
Here is the final result:
As you can see the base for the editing was Lightroom Rapid Editing but I had to do some extra tweaking at the end.