Playing with color in Lightroom

Humboldt Bay WI11-14

Sometimes photos need a large amount of post-process TLC. With a tool like Lightroom, you can make edits to the actual raw files, which provide a huge amount of wiggle room through which to make changes. The color controls are particularly useful and powerful in Lightroom, especially when compared with comparable tools in Photoshop. When working on raw files, it’s amazing what can be done. While you don’t have complete control over the individual colors of the image (there’s no substitute for a lens with great color rendition), there’s still a large amount that can be done. The main sliders look as follows, and target hue, saturation, and luminance of several color groups:

Screen shot 2012-03-07 at 7.28.55 PM

The luminance is a particular powerful set of tools, as it allows one to target how bright or dark various color groups are rendered in the image. If you want to darken your skies, just move the blue luminance slider to the left. Be careful not to move it too far, as this can lead to fringing and other artifacts.

Consider the image at the head of the post. This is image as it appeared in the camera, sans post-processing. When can easily change the exposure and brighten it up a bit:

Humboldt Bay WI11-15

We can play with the color and try to get a more dramatic result, as follows:

Humboldt Bay WI11-15-2

And if we don’t like the color, we can always go black and white. Lightroom has a nifty feature that allows you to adjust black and white by adjusting the original colors of the image, which allows one to make a much more satisfying image. The mistake some people make is to try to create a black and white image by merely desaturating the image. By moving the saturation slide all the way to left, we get the following:

Humboldt Bay WI11-15-4

But if we convert black and white through the black and “Black & White Mix” sliders, we get a better image, with more snap and pop:

Humboldt Bay WI11-15-3

To access the “Black & White Mix” sliders, highlight and press the mouse over the “B & W” lettering in the develop box as follows:

Screen shot 2012-03-07 at 7.25.07 PM

Each of the slider represents the value, in black and white terms, of the corresponding color. Moving the red slider to the left will darken the red tones in the image, rendering them darker gray; moving it to the left will lighten the red tones, rendering them less gray. Be careful not do overdo it as it can lead to fringing and other undesirable artifacts.