The Cooking RAWs series is my attempt to help photographers following my blog to learn how to edit their photos in the most efficient way to produce beautiful photographs without wasting any time.
The concept behind the Cooking RAWs series is simple: I ask readers to challenge me by submitting their unprocessed photos. I demonstrate how to approach the editing process and later publish the Cooking RAWs case studies on my blog.
You can find previous Cooking RAWs demonstrations here.
Today, the Cooking RAWs edition is a bit different. I’m featuring California photographer Alex Merk who participated in the Cooking RAWs series over a year ago. At the time, he was just starting to use my Lightroom Rapid Editing after signing up for the Travel Photography Bundle. He was looking for a little help to accelerate the learning process.
Now, 12 months later, he sent me an amazing photograph he created on his own using the Lightroom Rapid Editing workflow!
Here’s an excerpt from Alex’s email:
It started with an idea (after reading your blog) of making “a natural looking HDR” image, and I knew it can be done as long as I have all the tools such as the software and the photography gear. It was my first time to go through this process, in my case getting up at 4:30 am and driving to San Francisco to get a nice spot and waiting for the sunrise. I ended up staying the entire day at the Golden Gate Bridge and shooting the bridge from different perspectives and night traffic with long exposure… I had a fantastic day.
Here is the workflow that Alex used to produce such a beautiful photo:
He took three bracketed shots at 2EV intervals (-2EV, 0EV, +2EV).
HDR Merge in Lightroom.
Alex combined the three bracketed shots into an HDR image in DNG format with extensive dynamic range.
Alex made improvements to the composition by cropping the image in Lightroom.
Lightroom Rapid Editing workflow.
Alex used the End of Summer preset from the Landscape Collection and fine-tuned the photo using the TOOLKIT.
The End of Summer preset is one of my favorites. It produces a very strong visual effect, but it does not work with all photos. If you find the right image like Alex did, the final effect can be stunning.
Before & After Transformation
Take Part in the Cooking RAWs Challenge
Are you up for the challenge? Enter the Cooking RAWs Challenge for a chance to have your photo edited by me and featured on the PhotoTraces.com blog.
Send your images to [email protected] with “Cooking RAWs Challenge” in the subject line.
Please do not send the original RAW images immediately. Instead, send the smaller JPEG or link to your gallery. I will request the originals after I select the most interesting and challenging photos. Best of luck!