There are two kinds of photographers. Those who admit they crop, and those who claim they don’t. The latter are glistening bastions of photographic purity whose souls glow at a constant Zone 10. They graciously lecture us heathens on the evils of cropping and try to exorcise the post-processing devils from our souls. They abhor us croppers, whom they consider inferior photographers – low down scum worse than fixer stains or a piece of grit in a bulk loader. They realize that cropping leads to even more sinful behavior, such as high speed bursts and shamelessly shooting above base ISO. I could go on, but they’ll pick up where I left off in the comments section.
As the number of photos taken each year continues to increase at a nearly exponential rate, infrared photography remains a relatively small niche in the photography world, one that allows us to see and capture the world in a unique manner. Because of my infrared articles and photos, I often receive emails from others struggling to achieve good IR processing results, sometimes even from our illustrious leader. ;) Recently, I received a spate of questions regarding my technique and seeking assistance. I thought that sharing a detailed example of my workflow might be helpful for those of you who have an interest in this style of photography and are looking for some tips and pointers.
A while ago, I wrote an article on low-contrast B&W conversions with Lightroom. After reading through some of the response the article received I was pleasantly surprised that so many of our readers actually prefer low-contrast look over the ever-popular high-contrast conversions. That is not to say high-contrast B&W photography is in some way inferior, not at all. It is merely the more popular, the more easily accepted sort of look, which is exactly the reason why I saw fit to go against the wave and start with the opposite. Now, ever since I wrote that piece, I’ve received several requests for a similar article on a high-contrast conversion. This topic is particularly tricky for me since I rarely do high-contrast B&W, but the requests did remind me of one occasion where I was deliberately working towards such a result from the very start. And so, as always, we begin with a photograph.
There are most likely as many ways to achieve a beautiful B&W look as there are photographers. Maybe I am exaggerating it a little, but then I am in love with B&W. It is not as if I don’t like colour, oh no. It’s just that I like the “classic” look that much. So today, instead of doing some general article on B&W conversion and trying to cover several different looks, I am going to pick out a photograph and just work on it until it is exactly how I pre-visualized it a second before pressing that shutter. First of all, though, we need a photograph. I think I have just the right one.
I get asked very, very often how I process my photographs. And it is no secret – most of the time, I simply use VSCO. It suits me so well, coincides with the way I see and pre-vizualise my work, my style and my taste so accurately, only rarely do I need to dive deep into the post-processing closet to pick something else on my own. And yet despite me saying it, I get asked this one question really rather often – how do I achieve that look? It took me a while to figure out what do most people mean by that look, but I have. It’s not the colour or the light or the composition that a lot of you are so interested in when you ask me that question, it turns out. I also figured out why it’s so hard to describe properly – there really is no term for it (a reader has told me it is called “matte” and while personally I’ve not come across it before, we will see if the term will stick for good). It’s a sort of… vintage-retro-dreamy-low-contrast-film look. Sounds vague? It is. That is why any help on the matter is so difficult to find. And yet I am pretty sure you understand – or at least imagine – what I mean. Basically, a lot of you are wondering how to make the photograph on the left look like the photograph on the right.
You will be glad to know it really is rather simple.
I am a professional wedding photographer and I end up editing thousands of images for my clients. While there are lots of wedding photographers who outsource their post-processing to free up their time, I am a believer in editing my own photos. In order to make my job easier, I tend to look for shortcuts and tools in Lightroom itself, which I use extensively. I’d rather do everything in one program than switch back and forth between Lightroom and Photoshop. You do not have to be a wedding photographer in order to take advantage of these tools in Lightroom. You can use these techniques wherever they are applicable. Below are some of the tools you may not be using to edit your photos.
With Library Module holding such a large collection of tools, tabs and panels, there is no other way to write a proper, thorough overview article but to split it into several parts. In the first article, I did my best to talk about the left-side panel (or the Navigation Panel, if you like) and all its capabilities in detail. In this article, we will focus on the center section of the Library Module – mainly the Image Grid/Loupe View, and the Toolbar.
In the previous Mastering Lightroom series article, “Lightroom Grid View Options”, we learned how to set-up Cells in Grid View so that they display the information of your choice. Grid View options are only available in Library Module, but that is not the only view mode available in Lightroom. In this article for beginners we are going to learn how to set-up Loupe View, which is available in Library Module and is also the default and only view mode in Develop Module.
In Lightroom, image information, such as Metadata, can be overlaid on a photograph in some Modules. It helps you find out information you might need at a glance, such as aperture and shutter speed at which that particular photograph was taken. Such information can be overlaid in Grid and Loupe View modes in Library Module, and Loupe View mode in Develop Module. In this article, I will discuss the Grid View options, which are available in Library Module only. Loupe View mode, which is available in Library and Develop Modules, will be discussed in detail in a follow-up article.
I remember describing Photoshop’s versatility and sophistication as both a strength and a weakness. On one hand, it is a very powerful piece of software with so many different and versatile tools, its capability is only limited by the user’s skill. On the other hand, such complexity can also be overwhelming and detract one’s attention, slow down simple tasks. This trait, to an extent, is also shared by Photoshop’s little sibling, photography-centered Lightroom. Although it is that much more specialized, there’s still a plethora of tools, panels and tabs which can, at times, make the post-processing experience somewhat… messy.