(#25) Cooking RAWs – Editing Your Photos Challenge

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Today, I am featuring a new Cooking RAWs case study. For those new to the series, Cooking RAWs is where I ask people to send in one of their unprocessed RAW photos and, in return, I give them a few ideas on how to approach Lightroom editing in the most efficient way.

(#25) Cooking RAWs – Editing Your Photos Challenge

The featured photo was taken in Romania by Andrey Kosenko of Ukraine. The photo is of the famous Transfăgărășan mountain road, which crosses the southern section of the Carpathian Mountains. Andrey took the image with his Canon 700D and Canon kit 18-55mm lens.


First, Andrey and I had a slight miscommunication. Let me explain.

The name of the photo series is “Cooking RAWs” and reflects my request for unprocessed photos in RAW format. RAW format offers much more flexibility and potential compared to JPEG. To learn more about the differences between RAW and JPEG, and how to use them in your photography, read this detailed article on the subject.

After selecting the Transfăgărășan photo for this issue of the Cooking RAWs case study, I expected Andrey to send me the original RAW file; however, he did not have one. He is new to photo editing and has never felt the need to shoot RAW.

This is when I decided to make an exception and demonstrate how Lightroom Rapid Editing can be used with both RAW and JPEG images.

There is a huge difference when editing different image formats. If you use identical editing steps with both RAW and JPEG images, the final look of each photo will be different. Plus, you cannot be very aggressive with your editing when using JPEG.


Total time: 2 min

The first step was to improve the composition. I did not have to do much—I simply changed the aspect ratio from 3x2 to 4x3 to make it a bit tighter.


Total time: 10 min

The next step—jumping straight to Photoshop—was not typical for my editing workflow. Normally, I stay in Lightroom as long as possible when editing RAW photos to benefit from the RAW editing environment. Only in the final step do I rasterize the image and make the final touches in Photoshop. Since I started with a JPEG from the beginning, it did not matter here.

In Photoshop, I removed distractions like cars, people and powerlines from the composition using the Stamp Tool.

Next, I brought the photo back to Lightroom and ran it through the Lightroom Rapid Editing workflow.

Lightroom Rapid Editing

Total time: 10 min

f you are not sure what is Lightroom Rapid Editing, please check my detailed tutorial “Lightroom Rapid Editing System”.

I used presets from 3 different collections to produce 5 final versions.

Under each photograph, you can find the Lightroom Editing Formula which reflects every single editing step.

As you can see it took me between 5 and 7 clicks to achieve the final edits.

The Final Versions

Lightroom Editing Formula: Natural (9, 12, 18, 32)

Lightroom Editing Formula: End of Summer (14, 32)

Lightroom Editing Formula: Beyond the Reach (9, 32)

Lightroom Editing Formula: Burning (13, 32)

Lightroom Editing Formula: Point Lobos (13, 33)

Lightroom Editing Formula: Black Point (1, 7, 13, 31)

Please use the comment section below to let me know what version you like best.

  • Андрей Косенко says:

    Good afternoon, Victor. Thanks for the processing and the article, by my photo. I liked it very much, thank you very much again.
    Most of all, I liked the work: Lightroom Editing Formula: Burning (13, 32)
    Beautiful, very creative.
    Thank you.

  • John Popp says:

    Great article, and thanks for the variety. I like Blackpoint the best, followed by Natural. The others are creative indeed.

  • Anne Forbes says:

    Natural is my pick!

  • Chris Newham says:

    I can’t choose between natural and beyond the reach but its great to see thd different looks the system can give in very little time. Good article.

  • pfalcon1949 says:

    I like the natural one the most. Point Lobos is the next one I like.

  • I’m confused by your comments that your final step is to rasterize the image in PS. Aren’t digital images already in pixel form when you begin processing?

  • Rene Abela says:

    My preference would be Natural (9,12,18,32)

  • SupraHornets says:

    Thanks, Viktor. I would like to ask about your composition with regards to the out-of-focus flowers in the foreground. 1) Did you consider cropping them out? Why didn’t you? 2) Would in-focus flowers make this photo better? Why or why not?

    • I did consider cropping flowers out but without them the composition looked too “empty”. The focal point of the composition is the valley with the twisted road and out of focus flowered do not compete with the main subject. In case, the flowers were in focus, it would be necessary to remove them.

      • SupraHornets says:

        Thanks for your reply. This wasn’t meant to be a trick question. I took a picture where I forgot to consider the focus of the foreground. It has bothered me somewhat until your explanation above.

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