Turning A Blah Image Around Inside Lightroom 5

There’s a lot of people out there who will tell you that if you don’t get a shot correct in camera that you’re doing it wrong by trying to turn it around in post production. Others go so far as to tell you to put the camera down all together, trust me I’ve seen it. I say that if you’re learning there’s no better way to do so than by trying to save an image you misfired on.



By performing these kinds of manipulations in post production you’re learning a great deal about what a well composed photograph should look like, you’re seeing how different light and temperature levels will effect your photographs, and you’re learning what the capabilities of your post production software are. While I do agree that these lessons should be transferred to the field at some point – i.e. don’t rely on post production to fix your problems forever – these kinds of exercises are invaluable to the learning photographer.

Turning a Blah Image Around Inside Lightroom 5

Today’s Let’s Edit focuses on how with a simple crop, and some adjustments in Lightroom 5, we can take a blah, boring image, with poor composition, and turn it around. Towards the end of the video I take it a step further by using the HDRSoft 32-bit HDR for Lightroom plugin to blend a set of three brackets together in order to really bring out some details in the shadows and highlights.

As always, enjoy the video!

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  1. steve priebe says

    Another interesting video.  I must say, that I like the first version best.  The HDR doesn’t seem to add so much in this case.  I guess it’s just because you did some a good job on the original. Any chance of doing one on the tone curves?  I play with them, but don’t really know what I’m doing.

  2. says

    Yeah – I also think a lot of the time my processing tends to lean more towards the realistic side of HDR which when the shot is able to be processed fairly well in one frame the two resulting images end up looking fairly similar with the HDR one requiring more work.

    As for the tone curve – may have been before your time here on the site – but I did explore it a little bit using LR4 a while back http://www.phogropathy.com/let…..lightroom/ I may update it with LR5 and try and do a better job at explaining it – it’s not something I use all that often myself.

  3. steve priebe says

    I watched the tutorial.  You did a good job.  I had sort of figured out how the curve worked, but didn’t fully realize that changing the three set points on the bottom changed the amount of relative emphasis of the four sliders below.  What has confused me is the difference between the four sliders in the basic module; highliight, shadow, whites, and blacks and the four sliders under the tone curve; highlights, lights, darks, and shadows.  These seem to pretty similar.  Maybe the only difference is the ability to change their relative importance in the tone curve?

  4. says

    To be honest I do think there’s a lot of overlap between the two sets of tools. I think part of the reason Adobe leaves it in the program is simply to give people multiple ways of doing similar things – especially those who came from earlier versions of Lr where the basic tab was not nearly as strong and you would almost be required to use the tone-curve to get the most out of your shadows and highlights.

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