Progression | Before and After Photo Editing
February at Craggy Gardens
Two weeks ago I relocated with Marshall and our cat Darcy to Asheville, NC. The first weekend, we were stuck inside on the couch due to rain and pure exhaustion. After a week of rest (an exaggeration as a move is never restful), we hit the mountain trails for some hiking. The first day, consisted of a short hike to a waterfall at Pisgah National Forest in the rain. The second, an early morning climb at a 5000 ft elevation along the Blue Ridge Parkway. Our trail brought us to to Craggy Gardens. While lushly green in the spring/summer months, winter is a little desolate but allows for light to streak onto the path in a beautiful way. I immediately knew this was the shot and began editing it that day. Keep reading so I can walk you through my photo editing steps.
Global Adjustments in Adobe Lightroom CC
- Checked to Remove Chromatic Aberration and Enable Profile Corrections in the Lens Corrections Panel
- In the Detail Panel, I increased the amount of sharpening by 71, the radius by 1 and the detail by 39.
- Although it was early morning thus cool and dark, I’d prefer the image to be slightly warmer than its RAW state. I added a bit of yellow on the temperature scale as well as a smidgen of magenta to offset the green I note in the shadows.
- Increased the exposure by approximately half a stop.
- I opened up the shadows (+28) to gain information in the mid-tones on the right side of the frame.
- Then increased the whites (+29) and decreased the blacks (-57) to add contrast.
Radial, Graduated and Brush Filter Adjustments
Assessing the photo following making my Global Adjustments, I note that the photo remains a bit dark, the path is too cool in the rocks, Marshall doesn’t pop enough, and it needs a bit more contrast. Now, when reading this list you may wonder why I don’t revise my global adjustments. Well, having edited a lot of images, I can immediately tell based on the skies tonality the adjustments will differ slightly for each half of the image.
- Starting with the right side of the frame, I added a graduated filter which ends at the left curve in the path. I increased the exposure by a half stop, cooled the temperature (-17), dropped the black point (-8), and bumped up the white point (+45).
- Next, I added a graduated filter to the left half of the frame which decreased the highlights (-20), added contrast (+18 whites, -17 blacks), and slight coolness to the color temperature (-4).
- By applying a Radial filter to the path, I adjusted the temperature (+10) and tint (+13) to remove some of the cool tones in the rocks. I opened up the shadows (+39) so Marshall was more noticeable as well as added whites (+11) and decreased blacks (-14).
- Using the Brush, I added one adjustment to the path increasing contrast (+100) and clarity (+66). The second was applied to Marshall to reduce the warmth around him (-13) as well as increasing exposure (+0.2), opening the shadows (+23), bumping the whites (+34) and decreasing blacks (-5); thus making him pop a bit more.
Using the healing brush in Lightroom, I removed the bright stalk protruding from the bottom left of the frame. This action consists of 4 local copies to overlay on the stalk – the dead leaves, two copies in the green moss, and the section in the trees.
To see more before/after examples and read my photo editing steps, check out my first post in the Progression series. Share your progress photos (before and after examples) below!