Friday, February 29, 2008

Lightroom Hearts Photoshop

By Rick Sammon Published in Quick Fix
quick fixCheck out the opening image for this installment of Quick Fix. It's the result of using both Adobe Photoshop Lightroom and Adobe Photoshop CS3 on enhancing a photograph that I took in Cappadocia, Turkey, during a 2007 family vacation.

Lightroom is a powerful application that works hand in hand with Photoshop CS3 (and other image-editing applications). For this column, I used Lightroom for its speed in organizing and developing my image. I then used Photoshop CS3 to make selective adjustments and to add creative effects, such as the drop shadow and hairline frame you see in the opening image. In general, I use Photoshop CS3 when adding Adjustment Layers and when changing the Blending Mode, as well as when I want to apply a filter or Action.

Let's take a look at the step-by-step process I used for enhancing my image. When you're working with your files in Lightroom, keep these steps in mind and think about how you can use them to have total control over your images and workflow.

quick fix STEP ONE After selecting my image using Lightroom's Library module, I opened it in the Develop module. To check the sharpness of the photograph, I zoomed in on the most important part of the image: the two hot-air balloons in the center of the frame in this photograph.

Checking for sharpness (and dust spots) is the first thing I do. Sharpening an image is the last thing I do. You always want to sharpen as a final step because the other adjustments you make, such as adjusting the contrast, Levels, etc., affect the sharpness, too, and you never want to oversharpen an image.

quick fix STEP TWO Here are the enhancements that are available in Lightroom when you click on Basic in the Develop module: White Balance, Exposure, Recovery, Fill Light, Blacks, Brightness, Contrast, Vibrance and Saturation. These are powerful tools (especially the White Balance Eyedropper tool), and they're more than adequate for the kind of adjustments most photographers want to make. I do some work here and then move on to the other more advanced options in the Develop module.

quick fixSTEP THREE If you compare this screenshot of the Basic window to the previous one, you'll see that I used the Exposure, Recovery, Fill Light and Blacks sliders to adjust the overall exposure and that I used the Vibrance and Saturation sliders to enhance the color of the image.

quick fixSTEP FOUR If you want even more control over the image, select Tone Curve. Here, you can adjust the Highlights, Lights, Darks and Shadows. How cool is that! For my image, I toned down the highlights on the rock formations.

quick fixSTEP FIVE When you select Detail, you can sharpen an image and reduce noise globally. I rarely sharpen an image globally because there's always some part of the image that doesn't need sharpening or would be adversely affected by sharpening. For example, with this image, there would be no reason to sharpen the sky or deep shadow areas. Doing so may produce more digital noise in those areas. So in this case, using Photoshop CS3, I'd sharpen the balloons and landscape selectively using Smart Filters (a topic for another Quick Fix column).

Although I rarely sharpen an image globally, I do reduce the noise globally. For this picture, I reduced the noise just a bit, another wonderful adjustment that's available under Detail.

quick fixSTEP SIX Here's the Lightroom-processed image-nice enough, but now it's time to selectively darken the balloons and add some color to the sky using Photoshop CS3.

quick fixSTEP SEVEN To move a picture from Lightroom to Photoshop (or another image-editing application), click on Photo at the top of the Lightroom window. There, you'll see an option for opening the image in another application. In this case, I selected Edit in Adobe Photoshop CS3.

quick fixSTEP EIGHT After you choose the application, a window opens that offers a few choices: Edit Original, Edit a Copy or Edit a Copy with Lightroom Adjustments. For this image, I chose the last option.

quick fixSTEP NINE Once the image is opened in Photoshop CS3, it's time to enhance only the sky. First, I selected the Magic Wand tool on the toolbar. I clicked on different areas of the sky until the entire sky was selected. Once the sky was selected, I went to Image > Adjustments > Hue/Saturation and boosted the Saturation slider.

Finally, using Photoshop CS3's Smart Filters and Unsharp Mask, I sharpened the image selectively, choosing to sharpen only the landscape and balloons (and not the sky). After that, I added the drop shadow and hairline frame. What fun!

As you can see, I needed both Lightroom and Photoshop CS3 for this Quick Fix. Sometimes, Lightroom does the trick. Having both applications, however, offers total creative control.

Rick Sammon has published 27 books; his latest include Idea to Image, Rick Sammon's Complete Guide to Digital Photography 2.0, Rick Sammon's Travel and Nature Photography, and Rick Sammon's Digital Imaging Workshops. He has produced a DVD for Photoshop Elements users, 3-Minute Digital Makeovers, and three DVDs for Photoshop CS users, Awaken the Artist Within, Close Encounters with Camera Raw and Photoshop CS2 for the Outdoor and Travel Photographer. Visit for OP/PCPhoto seminar information; visit for Quick Fix archives.

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