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In this installment of the Photoshop Lightroom 4 Essentials series, author and teacher Chris Orwig guides photographers through the process of improving images with creative color, sharpening, and other effects in the Lightroom Develop module. The course covers each of the tools and features in the Develop module, and shows how to perform basic adjustments, such as exposure enhancement; how to improve image quality through noise reduction and clarity adjustments; how to apply creative effects, such as split toning and vignettes; and how to perform advanced tasks, such as correcting for lens distortion. Exercise files are included with the course.
One of the most common situations where a graduated filter will be helpful is a situation like this, where you have this bright sun, we have a little bit of a darker foreground, and the sky, because we have these white clouds in it, because of the time of day, well, it's just really bright. A lot of times what we'll try to do is correct this, say, in the Basic panel. We'll work with our controls, maybe we'll add a little bit of Contrast, we can try to bring down those Highlights a little bit to darken those up, we can work with the Whites as well, and these can help us get to a little bit of a better spot in regards to how we're processing the image.
Already it's looking a touch better; here's the before, now after, but we just need more control of the sky. We need to be able to bring that down really in a way that's separate from the foreground. So in this case, a graduated filter really is the answer. Well, in order to select the tool, we can press the M key, or you can click on it in the tool strip. Next, what you'll want to do is simply click and drag out. A lot of times before you click and drag out, what you may want to do is just make an adjustment which isn't going to be good, but which will help you see the parameters of the tool, or the area where the tool is going to affect the image.
So here I'll go ahead and decrease my Exposure, and then I'm going to click and drag, and I know that this isn't good, right? This isn't a good adjustment. But again, by having an exaggerated adjustment like this, it kind of shows me; okay, yeah, I get it. It's going to come down to this point here, and then slowly taper off. This can sometimes help you get it just right in regards to the angle, getting the angle of the adjustment exactly where you want it, or getting that transition edge to be something that's going to work for you, as far as how big that transition edge is, and then to try to find the right spot for it.
Now, this isn't always going to be the best way to do it. Meaning, sometimes you'll do this, and you'll need to make changes later, but at least it's a good kind of starting point. All right. Well, now that we've done that, I don't want this Exposure adjustment, so just double-click the slider. All that, that did for me was just clue me in to the area of the image that would be affected. Well, what I do want is I want to work on my Highlights. So I'm going to go ahead and bring those down, darkening the Highlights up there. Already that's much better. I'm also going to increase the Contrast.
I want a little bit more, kind of, visual interest up there; perhaps a touch of Exposure. And I think this is looking kind of interesting. The blue color doesn't look that good; it looks a little unnatural. I could try to add a little yellow to it to kind of soften it, or I could also try to desaturate that. I'm just going to desaturate it a little bit there, add a little bit of Sharpness up there, little bit of Clarity, it will give that some texture, and I think that looks pretty good. To view the before and after, well, we already have the pins on Auto mode, so they're hidden.
In other words, when you hover off of them, they disappear; hover back they show up. You can select that over here by choosing your Overlay mode, or you can press the H key. Remember, it shows or hides those pins. Well, either way, you want to hide the pins, and all of the details of the control, and then flip the switch, right? Take a look at it; here's our before, without the adjustment, and then here's our after. Another thing that might be helpful to do is to press the Backslash key. The Backslash key will show you your overall before, and then your overall after.
And here you can see our solution, well, it really was a combination of things, right? It was starting off using our basic controls, and then after we did a few minor adjustments, we then went to this tool -- let's go ahead and bring back our point there -- we made a few adjustments, which really helped us come up with a nice way to process and work on this image. What's interesting about this, too, is, after we worked on the sky, we may be thinking, well, what if we did something with the foreground here? Yeah, why not? Click and drag in order to create an adjustment on the foreground.
In this case, it's darkening it up, and here with all of my settings, you notice that it remembered this Exposure setting; don't want that. But what I do want in this foreground area is I want to add a little bit of contrast. So go ahead and increase the Contrast there. Maybe a little bit of warm; just warming up the tones and the colors with that. Just a touch of Saturation, again, trying to kind of make this image a bit more vibrant and visually interesting. And then some Clarity; that texture will look really good there.
I think my color Temperature was a little bit too warm for my liking. All right, that looks kind of good! We could bring down the Highlights at a different level, and you can see, really what I'm trying to do is just finesse, or fine tune, or process this image in an interesting way. Well, after we've made all these adjustments, you want to kind of round trip back to the Basic module. So to exit out of the tool, press the M key. That closes it; gets rid of it. Finally, you want to go into your Basic control, make any overall global adjustments, perhaps to the Clarity here, or we could work on the overall Vibrance, or Color Saturation, and we can work to say kind of minimize the Color palette; gives it a little bit more of this gritty type of an aesthetic, and then we could also work on Shadows, or Blacks if we want to modify those.
And I think this is kind of an interesting color palette; an interesting way to process the photograph. Let's evaluate. Here it is: our before, and then our after. And with this image I should point out that I kind of am going for a stylized look. I want it to feel kind of contemporary. Now, the actual look that you apply to your photograph in regards to the color Temperature, the Contrast, in the Basic module, and also with this tool, well, that's completely up to you. If you don't like this aesthetic, that's fine; don't let that distract you from really the power of this tool.
You can use this tool to create all sorts of visual aesthetics. Really, though, it's starting to deconstruct how the tool functions, and then the next step, of course, is to ask yourself, okay, now that I know how it functions, how can I begin to use this tool; use this functionality in a creative way?
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