Welcome to this edition of my blog, "Raw & Unedited"/by KLMoore, on how I create some of the images with my sports pictures in a little "before & after." Today's topic is one that I get asked about all the time, "what did you do to get that look or how did you do that?" The short answer to that is, MAGIC !
Not really, but that's what it feels like to me when I'm able to use some of the capabilities of Lightroom4 to bring about a certain look or vision that I have in my head for an image. I love LR4 for all of the creativity it affords me while working on images. Is there a magical formula or preset for this? No. A Preset may be a good starting point, but each image is a little different. This image was one of those times where I'm processing my pictures from a game and looked at the image and saw a whole other scene in my head.
When I first thought about writing about this subject, I wasn't sure that I wanted to share a process on "how" I did something. As a photographer, I am constantly trying to learn things to get better at the craft I do, to make myself more marketable. Basically, I wanted to try and find my own "style," that would help to distinguish my work from other photographers. So, when I found a technique that I thought was a little bit different or unique, I wasn't really ready to start sharing any new secret recipes with any one.
One night, when my wife and I were talking about my my reluctance to share any tips or tricks in a blog, she told me something that I thought to be pretty profound (which kind of happens a lot). She said that I was an artist and not a photographer. With that being said, the insult alarm bells were starting to ring. I was probably going to say something stupid that would've landed me in hot water, but instead replied simply that I'm a photographer. What I should've said was, "that's an interesting comment, why do you think that?" She went on to clarify her point that she viewed me as an artist, because of what I can see in my head, who uses photography as my medium for expressing these visions through my images. She went on to say, that given the same scene, tools, and settings, no two people see the same thing, nor would their images turn out the same. That's why I take what I learn from other people and apply it to my own style or my own way of seeing it.
The funny thing is, the more I learn, the more I find other people who are more knowledgeable and better with LR and PS than I am. Joel Grimes is a photographer/artist who I really enjoy following and love his work. He mentioned in one of his videos about his reluctance in sharing his techniques with others, until he realized that no two people see the same thing. He was saying the exact same thing that my wife had said. (As she would say, "go figure.") This is all about personal tastes and what works for me and what I like. I have known other photographers who didn't like my "style" and that's fine. I probably didn't like theirs either, but oh well. :) As they say in cooking, "season to taste" and that's what i'm doing here.
Here is the originally edited image from the game. Shooting a game at night introduces a lot of variables into the subject. The lighting, shadows, colors, and a host of other things, varies during the course of a game in relation to where the action is at any given moment.
In LR4, here are what the edited settings look like in the Develop Module for this image under the Basic section.
I start with my Basic Sports Preset on all of the images, which includes things like Contrast and Clarity boosts, a touch of Vibrance, and a little Sharpening for good measure. From there, I start to adjust the sliders to adjust for the highlights, open up any shadows, and increase the blacks. I love adding a touch of black to the images to give them a little deeper/richer look that makes things pop. Again, these are all just personal preferences. Another thing to keep in mind is that each individual image may require a little bit of different tweaking. On this image, I dropped the Highlights to -74, opened up the Shadows to +17 to lighten the player's face, lowered the Whites to bring back some of the detail on his pants, and then dropped the Blacks to -52 to give the colors just a little more pop.
Here's what the lower part of the panel looks like in the Sharpening and Noise Reduction section.
On the above panel, I left the Sharpening right at 50 where it's set from the Preset. The Noise Reduction tool is one that I really like it as it does a wonderful job of getting rid of the "noise" in an image. The NR tool is something that I've learned to incorporate more into my images over these past few months. Be careful though, as the higher amount of NR you use on your image, the more fine detail you lose.
Remember what I've said before about constantly learning new things and how what's good enough today, may not be good enough six-months from now? Learning is an ongoing evolution. I thought my Football pictures from last season were the best I've done yet, but already I can look back and see several things that I'd do differently. So, for today, you've seen how I get to the "before" picture. Next, we'll look at how to get to the "after." Thanks for reading.