Thursday, August 2, 2012

Dealing With Details In Lightroom 4

Little bit of a celebration before we get started.  We've just pasted 400 posts here on The Kayview Gallery.  Not a bad accomplishment (I think?).  There's been "about" 400 different images.  I say "about" because a couple posts had little sketchy kind of things (like the other day) to explain how something was done and I think I updated the processing of one image with new techniques.  So, like I said, "about" 400.

We were at Buttonwood Farm in Griswold Connecticut over the weekend.  They were having their annual charity event and the place was mobbed.  Literally, you couldn't get near their ice cream stand and the line for the rides through the fields must have been one hundred people long.  The big "prize" for photographers is the fields of in bloom sunflowers.  The farm is at the 90 degree intersection of two roads and the fields occupy all four quadrants surrounding the crossing.  They must switch off where they plant the sunflowers, but there's always acres in blossom.

Today's image is at the edge of one of the fields.  The sky was pretty dramatic, so I didn't have to drop a sky into the composition.  The image did take a very short trip over to Adobe Photoshop CS6 to use Content Aware Fill to take out a road sign on the far right.  It ended up being an unnecessary excursion, because the area with the sign got cropped out back over in Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 4.  That's where all "the work" was done on today's image.  That means that (for me) it's a pretty darn straight image.

The first thing done was the Gradient Tool was used to bring out the sky.  It was stretched over the entire length of the image from top to bottom.  Exposure was brought down a couple stops and Highlights reduced almost to the max.  Another round of the Gradient too was used from the bottom to about three quarters up the image.  Here the Exposure and Shadows were brought up to show off the plants.  That left the sunflowers themselves a little flat.
Most of the "work" on today's image is detail work.  The big areas that were hit with the Adjustment Brush were the barns, the heads of the flowers, the lower left piece of the sky and the road.  The barns were splashed with the brush (staying inside the lines), but the tree branch looked dumb being brightened to the same degree as the barn.  Getting in tight, any "adjustment" was removed from the branch using the Erase Tool for the Adjustment Brush.  It's often easier to make the "mistake" and then go back and undo it.  (Using the Erase Tool in LR4 or flipping the color on the Mask in CS6.)
The flowers were the time consuming portion of the work.  The "working" monitor was set to a 2:1 enlargement and the "control" monitor was set to an enlarged view.  Each petal (they were done as groups) was increased in Exposure, Highlights, Clarity and Vibrance.  (As an aside:  Without a Wacom Tablet it would have been much, much harder to control any spillover.)
For the sky I thought I might "get away" without changing the Adjustment Brush size and just painting over that small piece.  Nope!  It looked really dumb.   Like some celestial being had smeared  the sky with his (her) finger.  Had to back out and increase the size and feather of the Brush.  Then it worked fine.
The last area of adjustment didn't use any of the typical Adjustment Tools.  Instead, the Hue/Saturation/Luminance Panel was put into play.  Using the Targeted Adjustment Tool (the little meatball in the upper left) the Saturation was increased and the Luminance reduced.  Since the Targeted Tool was used, LR4 did the math and figured out which colors had to be fiddled with and made the proper adjustments.
Last step was to put a Post Crop Vignette on the image.  Just 10% and closed the Midpoint in a bit.  That's it.  That's pretty straight for one of my images.  Just one (unnecessary) trip over to CS6.  Everything else was done in LR4.