A Polarizer filter is generally the first filter a landscape photographer buys. It is so versatile. It can darken blue skies, reduce harsh reflections and intensify colors. Many photographers put polarizers on their lenses and never take them off.
But this is a Lightroom tutorial. So why in the world am I talking about polarizer filters? Well, it’s because I have a trick I’d like to share with you, one that I’ve never seen discussed anywhere else. It’s what you can do in Lightroom to create the polarizer effect without a polarizer. In fact, it can be better than the real thing, especially if you are shooting with a wide angle lens. Because, the angle of view can be so great that part of the sky will be affected by the polarizer and the rest will not. So it looks pretty unnatural when the sky in part of your image is dark and the rest is washed out.
So, what’s the trick? Well, consider this image taken on a recent trip to Hawaii. I shot it with my Canon G11 and I don’t even own a polarizer filter for it. It’s a photograph of the ongoing eruption in a crater in the Kilauea caldera. In the bottom of the crater is a lake of lava. The smoke you see is a plume of noxious gas.
(Click on the image for a larger view)
The trick to darkening the sky is to use the Luminance adjustment in the HSL group. To access it, click on Develop to go to the developer mode and expand HSL.
Select Luminance and then select the ‘gizmo.’ Using the gizmo, hover it over a patch of blue sky, click the left mouse button and drat it down. As you do the sky will darken. Drag it down until you get the amount of darkening you want.
Notice how the Blue slider moves to the left. But the gizmo is aware of other neighboring colors that might be part of the sample and also moves them. In this case the Aqua slider also move a little to the left.
This technique can be use for more than just the sky. The power lies in that it just works on one color. I find that I use it on practically every photograph I work on.
To finish up the image I can add a little saturation to Orange Yellow. So with two simple adjustments I was able to turn this…
Quite a difference.
If you have a comment on this technique or other techniques you like, please feel free to add a comment to this post. Also, if you know of someone who might enjoy it, I invite you to share it with them. There is a link for that purpose at the top.
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