By Chris Malinao
You get this once-in-a-lifetime chance to shoot the Statue of Liberty in New York and you get there on a bleak and cloudy day (thanks, it did not rain!). So, your camera records a dreary picture. What to do? You get help from Lightroom.
It’s a two-step process in the Develop module: 1) to bring the sky to blue, you pull the Temp slider to the left, making everything in the frame blue, then 2) apply the Adjustment Brush to the Statue of Liberty and its pedestal to bring back, even accentuate, its warm color.
Let’s go into the details. First, the Temp slider was pulled to 3674°Kelvin, a decidedly cool color temperature making the whole frame bluish. We only wanted the sky blue, not the statue, but we’ll deal with that in a moment. Next step here was to adjust the other sliders in the Basic panel—exposure, contrast, highlights, shadows, whites, blacks, clarity, vibrance, and saturation —to make the whole image pop, but still blue.
The second step is to recover, even accentuate, the warm color of the statue and its foundation separate from the bluish color of the sky. This is local, or selective adjustment, so for this we use the Adjustment Brush. Our aim is to show the greenish patina of the copper statue (the flame is also copper but clad in 24K gold leaf, did you know that?), and the warm color of the stone bricks that make up the pedestal and foundation, but leave the sky blue.
When we click on the Adjustment Brush icon, its context menu appears. We’ll first assign it to Temp, i.e., temperature, and brush it carefully on the statue and foundation. We will aim to brush with only one brush, meaning, there will only be one control pin for all our masking. Reason for this is so we can synchronize adjustments to the whole area under edit. For this, you use the brush continually, not return it or turn it off and brush again, that will give you a lot of control pins and each brushed area will behave independently of the others. This is important: we aim to use only one brush for the statue and its pedestal and foundation.
The next thing to bear in mind is to set both Flow and Density for the brush at 100 percent, so each stroke has 100 percent effect. The other thing is to watch the Auto Mask option: you want it ON when brushing with a smaller brush on the edges of the statue, and OFF when brushing with a larger brush inside. To see where you have brushed, turn on the Show Selected Mask Overlay option on the Toolbar. If you don’t see it, press T on the keyboard. Zoom in a hundred percent so you see where you are brushing; press Spacebar to click-drag and move to another portion of the image. And brush away, completely—on the statue, its pedestal, and its foundation.
Once you’re satisfied that you have brushed completely and cleanly (Alt key to remove excess brushing), zoom out and adjust the Temp slider to your liking. After the Temp slider, you may also move the other sliders some more such as contrast and clarity, etc., to render a good image of the Statue of Liberty against its blue-sky background. And that’s it, we have applied mixed temperature or color settings in one frame, bluish for the sky and warmer for the statue. See the accompanying image for the effect. Aren’t we overdoing the colors here? You bet! If you’re printing this on fine art paper you might want to be a little more conservative with your colors, but because we’re showing this on newsprint we go overboard to demonstrate the methods. Ciao bello! Until next time.
Chris Malinao teaches Lightroom as workflow software to photography students at the FPPF (Federation of Philippine Photographers Foundation), a nonprofit organization that offers year-round workshops in Basic Photography, Advanced Photography, Wedding Photography, Strobist Lighting, Food Photography, Photoshop, Lightroom.