In this series of blog posts were talking about how to create Images with Impact. You know what I’m talking about. These are those images that really grab our attention, that capture our imaginations. There’s something special about them and it doesn’t have to be a mystery how they are created. There are a few simple techniques that you can use in Lightroom and Photoshop to add impact to your images. Now if you don’t use Photoshop, you can still do everything were talking about in Lightroom.
In the first article we talked about utilizing the full dynamic range of your medium. This is something Ansel Adams taught in his books and classes that was an essential element of his stunning landscape photographs. As he developed his technique which became known as the Zone System, the primary goal was to use the full dynamic range of his medium which, in his case, was the black and white print.
So we talked about that technique first because it is the most appropriate place to start. I do want to add that in color photography or color prints not every print benefits from a white point but virtually all prints benefit from a black point – which is what we want to talk about in this article.
What exactly is a black point? It is small portions of the print that are pure black. If you’re printing on paper than these are small portions that are the blackest black that the combination of paper and ink can achieve. As a side note, different combinations of paper and ink achieve different levels of blackness. But regardless of the combination you use, the blackest black that can be achieved is your black point.
You want to keep the black point areas very, very small because they have no detail. And generally speaking we like to see detail in our shadows, another guideline that I picked up from studying Ansel Adams. But you don’t want to eliminate black points, that is, in most cases. There are a few exceptions to this rule that I will talk about later.
Let’s take a look at the before and after images of our photograph. I shot this at the Huntington Library in South Pasadena a few weeks ago. It’s in their incredible cactus garden – endlessly fascinating.
Continue reading “Creating Images with Impact – Black Point” »
Tags: Ansel Adams, black point, cactus, California, dynamic range, Garden, histogram, huntington library, layers, level adjustment, Lightroom, medium, PhotoShop, shadow, south pasadena, white point, Zone System
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Lightroom is a great tool. It’s quick and easy to use – once you get the hang of it. But sometimes mastering the workflow, the steps you go through to take a raw file to a ‘final’ image, can be a bit daunting.
Let me say up front that Lightroom is an important part of my workflow but it’s not the only part. Every photograph I work on starts in Lightroom but is completed in Photoshop. Nevertheless, Lightroom gets a photograph to about 80% of the final product. I know many people who use Lightroom exclusively and Photoshop only in rare circumstances if at all.
So back to the workflow. Can it really be made easy? Yes it can. There are four major steps (not counting import – see Lightroom Tutorial – Importing Photographs):
- Mechanical adjustments like dust spot removal and cropping
- Tonality adjustments
- Hue adjustments
- Saturation adjustments
Let’s skip the first step and start with the second. The example will be in Lightroom 4.
Continue reading “Lightroom Tutorial – Workflow Made Easy” »
Tags: adjustment, adjustments, Adobe, amount, Basic, black point, Blacks, blue, brighter, clarity, clipping, color, contrast, cool, corners, creative process, crop, cropping, Death Valley, dust spot, dynamic range, edges, elements, emotion, enhancement, exposure, Global, grain, green, greens, highlight, highlights, histogram, hue, image, images, impact, Lightroom, Local, luminosity, magenta, photo, photography, PhotoShop, Post processing, post-crop vignette, radius, RAW, saturation, shadow, shadows, tan, temperature, Tint, tonal, tonality, unsharp mask, Vibrance, vignette, warm, white point, Whites, workflow, workshop, yellow, yellows, Zabriskie Point
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There are a lot of instructional books on how to use Lightroom, Photoshop, Photoshop Elements and the like. They provide a comprehensive and in-depth review of the various adjustments and filters available in these powerful tools. And as such they serve as excellent references. I own many of these fine books.
Now, a lot of workflows are built around the concept of seeing what needs to be fixed next and fixing it. I advocate a more structured approach; namely, fix the tonality first, then the hue and finally the saturation. See my recent post on Workflow. But I often hear the statement, “I look at my photograph and just don’t know what to do.” Many people often don’t know where to begin.
So I want to take a different approach. I want to look at an image and identify what it needs and then talk about the various techniques for achieving it. In other words, I want to start with the question, “What makes a compelling photograph?” and go from there. It doesn’t help to know all of the tools and tricks available in Lightroom and Photoshop if you don’t know when to use them.
We’ll start with this image. It is photographed in the Mesquite Flats Dunes of Death Valley. The dunes provide an inspiring variety of compositions and ligh. (You can click on this and all other images in this post to enlarge it.)
Let’s start by examining the images tonality and see what improvements can be made.
Continue reading “Making a Photograph – Black and White Points” »
Tags: Adobe, black point, Blacks, brightness, contrast, Curves, dynamic range, exposure, Levels, Lightroom, luminance, PhotoShop, Photoshop Elements, phtograph, tonality, white point, Workshops
Posted in How To Articles, Lightroom, Photoshop | Comments (7)