Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Cutting Through The Fog Using Adobe Lightroom

Click image to enlarge
Today we have a little before and after going on.  We visited Gillette Castle on the banks of the Connecticut River.  They had it all set up in holiday splendor, with decorations throughout the home.  Gillette Castle was the home of William Gillette, the actor credited with bringing Sherlock Holmes to the American stage.  It's now a Connecticut State Park.  They have an interesting rule about photography.  You can bring a tripod but you can't use a flash.  Guess it cuts down on the common ruck getting good images. ???  A little weird if you ask me.  As you can probably tell from the "before" image, we were there on a bright sunny day.  I did shoot for HDR, but today's image is a single shot.  The scattered light was removed using Adobe Photoshop Lightroom (LR) for 95% of the work.  The only two areas where Adobe Photoshop (PS) was used were to color the curtains to the right of the tree and to "light" the candles on the table.  Look around, click on the image to enlarge it for closer inspection.  Look at the detail in the "after" image.  Then go back to the "before" and see what's different.  You can think of it like one of those brain teasers where you're challenged to find ten things different between the two similar images.  You should be able to find more than ten, but it's more about looking than finding.  Once you've looked you can find some hints (answers) by hitting the "Read More". 
LR's Adjustment Brush was used to make all the changes.  The most obvious is the removal of the scattered light.  The settings were a decrease in Exposure and increases in Contrast and Clarity.  Each of the gifts under the tree  were brightened up with either the Exposure Slider or the Highlights Slider.  Different amounts were applied to the bows versus the wrapping paper.  The lighter portions of the carpet were toned down to match the parts in shadow and the whole thing was then brought up in Exposure.  The cushions on the chairs were lightened using Exposure, Clarity and Sharpness. 

In the original the table can just barely be seen and there's no detail in the fireplace.  The tree was brightened, as was the garland on the table and mantle.  The nutcrackers on the mantle were highlighted and the red colors deepened. 

Can you find the train at the bottom of the tree in the original?  The roofs of the cars were brightened and the red of the bodies brightened and deepened. 

Throughout the image things were given more contrast and  brought up in brightness.  The examples given are less than half the changes made to the original.  There's probably more than forty Pin drops for LR's Adjustment Brush, each marking somewhere where something was touched. 

Changing the color and lighting on the curtains undoubtedly could have been done in LR.  Lighting the candles would have been trickier.  In PS it was a snap using a single dot of yellow on each and applying Layer Styles to each. 

I'll say it again.  Anyone who is NOT messing with the original images (replacing skies, compositing people in strange places or doing strange things) should be using LR and not playing with either PS or Adobe Photoshop Elements.  LR is extremely powerful and means just pushing around some sliders.  Maybe there's a little more, but far less of a learning curve than PS.