Tuesday, June 22, 2010

From Drab To Fab In Five Minutes

Check out the color, contrast and sharpness in this picture of a short-eared owl that I photographed with its prey, a small dove, in the Galápagos.
By Rick Sammon Published in Quick Fix

Check out the color, contrast and sharpness in this picture of a short-eared owl that I photographed with its prey, a small dove, in the Galápagos. Notice the exposure and the nice composition. Pretty good, don’t you think?

Well, the image didn’t start out that way. Here’s the original shot, which looks kind of drab and flat, mostly due to the poor lighting conditions.

Enter Adobe Lightroom

For this quick fix, I used Adobe Lightroom 3. Lightroom was designed from the ground up for photographers, unlike Photoshop, which I still use and love, but was designed for the whole spectrum of graphic artists. Keep in mind that the adjustments I use also are found in Photoshop, Photoshop Elements and Apple Aperture. Some are even found in Apple iPhoto.

Here’s a look at the Lightroom Develop module. This is where you can enhance your images, quickly and easily. Let me take you through the steps that I used to enhance my image.

1. Basic Panel

As the first step in my quick fix, I went to the Basic panel. I darkened the exposure using the Exposure slider, boosted the contrast using the Contrast slider and increased the vibrance using the Vibrance slider. If you’re just getting started in Lightroom, you’ll be amazed by the control you have over your image even in the Basic panel.

To open up shadows, use the Fill Light slider. For overexposed highlights, use the Recovery slider.

2. Touch Of A Brush

The biggest problem I had with my original image was that the branches were brighter than the subject, drawing attention away from the owl. The quick fix was easy! I selected the Brush tool, reduced the Exposure and “painted” over the branches. If you have an area of a picture that’s too dark, you can use the same tool, increase the Exposure and paint over those areas.

3. All Eyes On Sharpening

Ah, sharpening. It’s one of my favorite topics because sharpening an image is so important. I used the Sharpening slider in the Detail panel here. When I sharpen an image in any digital imaging-editing program, I always keep the Radius and Detail sliders (and the Threshold slider in Photoshop) set relatively low and adjust the sharpness of an image using the Amount slider.

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