Monday, July 1, 2013

Making Images POP with Lightroom 5

I've been using Lightroom (LR) for a couple years now and recently upgraded to LR5 when it became available.  I don't think I'll ever stop learning the different things about it and how to incorporate them into my images (at least I hope not).  But I have found certain settings I use repeatedly enough that I created a filter for them when importing images from the camera.  One thing that struck me recently, though, was that I'm still manipulating the different sliders quite a bit and have been wondering if another filter needs to be created or tweaked.  Why?  Well, I think it's because I'm constantly trying to make the images be the best they can be to the best of my ability and that's a good thing, right?  And hopefully, it's a sign of growth.  But this realization brought more to light, namely, there are more sliders and functions in LR and especially LR5 that I haven't learned and used yet.

One is the Radial filter and the other is the Post-Crop Vignetting tool, so I have incorporated them into the images being used in this article.  Be patient with the next few images.  The image above was taken just a few days ago and posted here and is what brought me to try something different.  Hopefully, beginning with image 5 you'll find the rest of the images much more delightful.  When I went back to look at the above image after-the-fact, I wished I had not posted it at all because it was entirely too busy and the subject was pretty much lost in it.  One thing I realized was the camera was set to f/8 and had I had my wits about me at the time, I'd have set it to f2.8 - the widest aperture for the lens in use at the time.  That would have blurred the background nicely and made the dragonfly much more prominent.  

Today, as I was working with images shot yesterday and using the Radial filter and Vignetting tool, I wondered if the dragonfly picture could be improved with these.  After all, it is that picture that led me to try something different.  The above image is the result of that effort.  Certainly still not great but I think improved.  And below is another variation on that.  

At least they have aided in bringing our attention to the dragonfly and stopped our eyes from wandering all over the frame, wondering what we should be looking at.  Ok, let's get on with what I hope you'll find more pleasing.

A lot of butterfly pics - hopefully you're not bored with them.  But these were wonderful subjects for trying something new.  The butterflies, themselves, are quite small and delicate and the field of view from the lens was wide enough that there was a lot to take in and pick out the butterflies.  So, I cropped to 100% and used the two tools we've been discussing.  Yes, cropping to 100% alone makes the butterflies more prominent but I rather like the results here if for no other reason than they're different from what I've been doing.  Besides, it really makes the subject stand out and creates a different mood versus not using the tools.  And the black vs white vignettes create a different mood even for the same photo.  These are good things and I'm glad to have tried something different.  And just think, the catalyst to trying something new was the one photo of the dragonfly that I posted.  A failure.  But had I not posted it I'd not have given it a second thought and would still be doing the same old thing for now.  So as I state in my profile, I started this blog hoping it would make me think and learn and improve in photography.  Hopefully it's working with ever more improvement to come.


  1. Nicely done! I LOVE the pic of the black and white dragonfly with the white vignette. The contrast is nice and really makes the dragonfly pop!

    Keep them coming!

    Love, Me

  2. Thanks, hon. I thought it was pretty cool how it took these photos which were kind of blah by themselves and really made them quite nice, I think. One reason is because it takes the available light, which was quite flat, and creates the illusion of shadows which gives the photos contrast and depth which in turn makes them pop. I'll keep experimenting and learning and will certainly keep them coming.