Don’t Do This At Home?

Let me modify that title. Of course you can do the following at home – you see, I am going to talk again about extensively modifying your images in post-production.

Unless you are a photojournalist, you can of course do this whenever you feel like it, but my feeling is, you should not do it instead of shooting correctly. Shoot correctly; do the rest in Lightroom or Photoshop – when you have to.

But when you have a bad image, as long as it is an exception, you can often do dramatic stuff with that image.

Like this image. A snap shot of one of my students the other week during the Flash course (there’s more flash courses coming very soon, see the schedule). This was not a “real” shot: I was demonstrating how not to do something, if I recall correctly.

Pretty much bad everything (except the subject). Light, exposure, composition: a good example of a mere snapshot.

But then… mmm. Suppose we increase the exposure in post; desaturate the image, pop up the vibrancy, then crop and rotate? Lightroom 4 settings as follows:

  • Exposure +0.7
  • Contrast +25
  • Highlights +10
  • Shadows +55
  • Clarity +100
  • Vibrance -49
  • Post-crop Vignetting: -35
  • Crop to get extra close and to use the “Rule of Thirds”
  • Rotate to straighten verticals

…then, we might actually get a good “dramatic portrait”:

Again, I am not advocating shooting bad images! But when it is the exception, or when you want to do something that cannot be achieved strictly in camera, feel free. By all accounts, Ansel Adams was a huge darkroom user.  If he could do it, you can too. Just make sure you do actually know how to do it without manipulation, as well.


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