Tag Archives: #Lightroom

89—a Lesson in Contrast Control

Wednesday, I made this photo of Strasburg Rail Road 2-6-0 No. 89 at the East Strasburg, Pa., station.

I imported the Nikon NEF RAW file into Adobe Lightroom, where I implemented a variety of adjustments aimed at producing a better balanced photo with greater highlight and shadow detail, superior color rendition, and more even overall contrast.

I manually implemented corrections similar to the results created by composite algortihms employed by many contemporary smart phones used as cameras.

So that you can see how I implemented some of the changes, I’ve included screenshots of my Adobe work screen.

This is a JPG made from the NEF RAW file without adjustment. Note the lack of detail in shadow and highlight areas and high contrast.
First round of adjustments in Lightroom. Note the postion of the Highlight and Shadow sliders. Also watch the histogram at the top of the page to see how it changes from window to window.
Second round of adjustments: in this window I’ve manually lowered overall contrast, placed the black in the shadow and whites in the highlights, while increasing saturation and warming the color temperature. Notice how the histogram shows how I’ve moved the pixel distribution toward the center of the graph, which reflects the lower overall constrast.
In this window, I’ve chosen the ‘select sky’ control. All the corrections here were made to the sky to improve the detail in the clouds and the overall contrast of the sky relative to the scene. The intent was to replicate how the sky appeared and not to make an unworldly dramatic sky out of ordinary thermal clouds.
Final adjustment: I used the ‘clarity’ slider to globally improve the contrast by giving the image a little ‘snap’ that doesn’t significantly change the shadow or highlight detail. It might seem counter intuitive to lower the overall contrast and the increase it with the ‘clarity’ control, but this can really work to make for a more natural scene out of a high contrast RAW file.
This was my end result. It’s not perfect, but its looks a lot more realistic and pleasant than the unadjusted high-contrast NEF file.

Tracking the Light Posts Daily!

Kempton Contrasts

Saturday, I made this view of a former Reading Company caboose at Kempton, Pennsylvania on the Wanamaker, Kempton & Southern.

It was shortly before 3pm and the sun was still high in the July sky.

Using my Nikon Z6 with 24-70mm I exposed the photo in both JPG and RAW. Then in post processing using Adobe Lightroom, I adjusted the camera RAW (NEF format) so that I made full use of the camera’s dynamic range.

Notice how in the adjusted versions you can see detail inside the caboose.

My Nikon Z6 is prized for its dynamic range, in other words its ability to capture detail at the extreme end of the range from dark to light.

Nikon Z6 in-camera JPG with ‘vivid’ color profile.
Nikon Z6 in-camera NEF (RAW) file, unmodified except for necessary scaling and watermarking. No changes to gamma, color or sharpness.
Nikon Z6 in-camera NEF (RAW) file, following the first round of adjustments to shadows, hightlights, color and contrast.
Nikon Z6 in-camera NEF (RAW) file, following the second round of adjustments to shadows, hightlights, color and contrast, including localized exposure and contrast control on the window at upper left.
Adobe Lightroom work- window showing the positions of the exposure control sliders for the second round changes. Missing are the localized adjustments.

Tracking the Light Posts Daily!

Russian Ore train

On my July 2015 visit to Finland, my host Markku Pulkkinen did an excellent job of finding interesting railway subjects.

Early in the morning on July 26, 2015, we set up on the outskirts of Oulu to catch VR T5220, a freight forwarding iron ore mined in Russia to a Finnish plant. The freight wagons were Russian, the locomotive is a VR Group class Sr2 electric of Swiss design.

I had just purchased my first Adobe Lightroom for my then-new Apple MacBook Pro and was beginning to learn how to use this tool to make the most of my Fuji RAW files.

This was a revelation as the programs sliders made it easy to make adjustments to shadow and highlight detail, as well as color temperature and color balance corrections, which help make for much better photos when used judiciously.

I’m now working with a more advanced version of Lightroom with this I created two JPGs created from the Fuji RAW file. The top was scaled without any adjustements; the bottom reflects adjustments to color temperature, saturation, plus highlight and shadow area changes. Notice the difference in the detail to the sky.

No changes to the Fuji RAW file except for scaling.
Adjusted with Adobe Lightroom to better present the data captured by the Fuji RAW file.

Tracking the Light Posts Daily!

Trams in Graz

In January 2012, I was visiting Graz, Austria with Stephen Hirsch and Denis McCabe.

I made this photo of trams meeting on a pedestrianized street in the ciry center using my Canon EOS 7D.

Below are two versions of the same image.

Camera jpg

The top image is the in-camera JPG, scaled for internet.

The bottom is my interpretation of the camera RAW file with adjustments to exposure, contrast, color temperature and color saturation implemented with Adobe Lightroom to improve the scene.

Interpreted RAW image adjusted in Lightroom.

Tracking the Light Posts Daily!

Amtrak’s California Zephyr along the Truckee River

In June 1994, I exposed this Kodachrome 25 slide using a Nikkormat FTN fitted with a Nikon AF28mm lens (focused manually) of Amtrak number 5, the westward California Zephyr as it worked upgrade along the Truckee River on Southern Pacific’s famous Donner Pass crossing.

The other day, I scanned this slide and then imported the unmodified scan into Adobe Lightroom to make corrections.

Kodachrome 25 was an amazing film with very fine grain and a tremendous exposure latitude. Among the difficulties with the Kodachrome emulsions was its cyan/red color bias. When the film was fresh it tended toward a cyan (blue-green) bias, and as it aged it shifted red.

The roll I used was relatively fresh and required significant color adjustment to produce a near neutral bias.

I’ve included scaled versions of: the unmodified scan, the color and contrast adjusted scan, and the Lightroom work window. 

Uncorrected scan.
Adjusted scan.
Lightroom work window showing contrast and exposure adjustment sliders and the corrected histogram. Notice that I manually moved the black point to the left, while lightening shadows and reducing overall contrast. This helps correct for the effect of midday sun in the California Sierra.

Tracking the Light Posts Daily!

Chrome at Bad Schandau

It was on a misty May 2009 morning that I exposed this Fujichrome slide of a tram in the village of Bad Schandau in Germany’s Elbe River Valley.

This was just a few months before I purchased my first digital camera and when I still exposing lots of color slide film.

Yesterday I scanned this slide using an Epson V750 scanner and then processed the file using Lightroom.

Below are two Lightroom Jpgs. The top is uncorrected, the bottom reflects digital tidying up for internet presentation.

Specifically, I adjusted the gamma for better contrast by putting the darkest regions at the toe of the curve (far left) and moving the highlights to the top of the curve (far right) while increasing contrast in the middle range. I reduced the amount of magenta and increased the yellow for better color balance, and applied a small degree of digital sharpening for edge effect. (This doesn’t actually make the photo sharper, but it looks sharper on screen). Lastly, I made a nominal correction for level by slightly rotating the image (which crops it).

Tracking the Light Posts Daily!

Chessie System Against the Sun; Lightroom instead of Darkroom!

On a trip to the Pittsburgh area, I made these black & white photos on Tri-X in February 1987 at New Castle, Pennsylvania.

While, I like the effects of back lighting on this westward Chessie System train, I was thwarted in my efforts at producing satisfactory prints.

Complicating my printing problems were edge effects that had resulted in un-even processing that affected the sky highlights more dramatically than shadow areas.

This is a scan of the original black & white negative. The photo suffers from flare, uneven processing and less than ideal contrast. Also the sky is a bit over processed and thus appears too dark on the negative (and too light in the prints).

After about a half dozen attempts using Kodak double-weight paper I’d given up.

The other day this roll of 120 Tri-X finally worked its way to the top of the scanning pile, and after scanning at high-resolution, I thought maybe I’d try to work with the back-lit photos using Lightroom to see if I could improve upon my printing efforts from 1987.

This is the un-modified scan from the negative. I’ve not made any corrections to contrast, exposure, or provided localized improvement. Nor have I spotted the image.

Here’s the photo after my first round of corrections.

Instead of dodging and burning on the aisle, working digitally I’ve applied digital graduated filters to control highlights and shadows, contrast, and the overall exposure.

After some more adjusting this is my final image. Not perfect, but a big improvement over the muddy mottled original photo.

Tracking the Light Posts Daily.

Boston & Maine GP18 at White River Junction, January 25, 1986.

I exposed this view of Boston & Maine GP18 1753 using my Leica 3A with 50mm Summitar on Kodachrome 64.

The  light was diffused by a thin layer of high cloud, which made for a relatively low-contrast scene.

This batch of K64 had a magenta bias resulting in a pinkish hue to the snow and sky.

This is a scaled JPG from my hi-res scan of the original Kodachrome slide. I did not make changes to alter the appearance of the scan. Compare this image with the variation below.

Using Lightroom, I made several adjustments to scan. By altering the contrast, color temperature and color balance, I produced a JPG file that I feel has a more natural looking image—at least as it appears on my computer screen.

This screen shot of the Lightroom work-window shows the positions of the various sliders that I used to adjust image contrast, exposure, color temperature and color balance.

Here’s the improved image, which reflects the adjusts implemented in Lightroom.

Tracking the Light posts daily.