Today, I am featuring the 27th 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.
The featured photo was taken by Peter Thomasson from England. The photo is of Reflection Lake in Washington State. Peter took the image with his Canon 5D Mark 2 and Canon 17-40mm f/4 lens. He used the following settings: f/13, 1/20s, ISO 160, 21mm.
And this is the message I received from Peter:
"I feel there is a lot to be made from this image, i have tried several times to process it but cannot seem to get the best from the image. Hopefully if this image is selected by you, you can make more of it than I have."
This photo of Reflection Lake has a ton of potential but, at the same time, I can see why Peter had difficulty creating an interesting final image.
The photograph has too many attractive elements competing for the viewers’ attention. It has a beautiful mountain in the background, a colorful forest with an engaging pattern and reflections in the water plus submerged logs and branches in the foreground. When you start scanning the photo, you simply do not know where to start or what the focal element of the composition is as a whole.
My solution for improving the featured photo is to simplify it by eliminating the unnecessary elements.
Total time: 2 min
From my perspective, the most interesting part of the landscape is the reflections in the water that create a mirror-like symmetry.
I decided to emphasize the symmetrical nature of the composition by cropping out the foreground elements and placing the lake’s shoreline in the exact middle of the frame.
I also changed the aspect ratio from 3x2 to 16x9. With a panormamic orientation, it makes the photograph a much better candidate for a beautiful piece of wall art.
Total time: 1 min
I used the Spot Removal tool in Lightroom to remove the derbies in the foreground.
You can find a detailed tutorial on how I use Lightroom Spot Removal when editing landscapes here: Lightroom Spot Removal Tool When Editing Landscapes
Lightroom Rapid Editing
Total time: 10 min
If 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 6 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 (2, 12, 19, 31)
Lightroom Editing Formula: Broken Clouds (1, 9, 38)
Lightroom Editing Formula: Drought (1, 8, 13, 27, 34)
Lightroom Editing Formula: Point Lobos (13, 15, 31, 34)
Lightroom Editing Formula: Green Again (8, 12, 31)
Lightroom Editing Formula: Black & White (2, 14, 15,)
Please use the comment section below to let me know what version you like best.