Monday, November 2, 2015

Taming The Sun Using Lightroom

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.  (Hmmm, pretty catchy.  Someone ought to use that as the opening line of a book or something.)  Anyway, I was out shooting with some friends on Saturday.  One of the group had arranged for us to go to a horse farm here in Connecticut.  As far as the day goes (end of October) you couldn't ask for a better day to be outside in the fresh air.  As far as shooting goes, yuck!  Brilliant blue skies with the sun shining down mightily.  The only way (for me) was to shoot for the shadows and bring the hot areas back in post processing.  To find out what else went on, hit the "Read More".

Today's image is an example of using Adobe Photoshop Lightroom (LR) to control brightness.  Typically I shoot 2/3 of a stop to the light side.  I just set the Exposure Value (EV) setting to +.7.  For those nerdy enough to care, that gives me a histogram that almost kisses the right hand edge of the graph.  In LR that means the Whites Slider usually moves less than ten points before showing up as being blown out.  In today's image it was about two points before hitting maximum.  From there I bring the slider down ten to twenty points.  In today's case that meant setting the White Point at minus eight. 

Once the White Point was set it was moving the rest of the control sliders to taste.  That still left several very hot (but not blown out) spots that needed to be addressed.  The cowboy's left shoulder and hand, his hat and the trees in the background had to be treated independently.

The adjustments were all basically the same.  Use the Adjustment Brush to isolate the specific area and reduce the Exposure Slider to match the area being treated.  

The left shoulder to match the rest of his shirt.  His left hand to become an area of bright skin.  Same tone, just looking like it's out in the sunlight.  His hat, toned down to the color of the hat.  

In each case the Adjustment Brush was made as oversize compared to the area being worked on.  Not completely covering the area, but large enough so the outer circle of the brush didn't fit totally in the area.  The feathering of the brush was larger than normal so the flow of the modification didn't end suddenly.

The trees were taken care of using the Radial Filter.  The addition of the Brush attribute to the Radial Filter (and Gradient Filter) is a great boon in placing the effect you're using and controlling the edges.  In today's image, the Radial Filter brought down the heat of the trees and the Brush (in the erase mode) removed any sign for what was going on behind the cowboy.

Shooting in harsh shadows is always a pain in the butt, but it can be handled effectively in LR.