A Vivid Adjustment Technique with Adobe’s Lightroom

I tend to only display photographs that are relatively close to the way that I saw them when I was in the moment, making the image.  I enjoy images of all kinds, be it HDR, Orton Effects, duotones, composites, etc.  It just seems that of the work I do, I prefer the “realistic” look for the images I display.  Behind closed doors, I spend all kinds of time processing some of my images with the previously mentioned techniques and others.  A lot never see the light of day but now and then I like the results of this play.

In the photograph above, I manipulated the final look in Adobe’s Lightroom program. Working in the Develop module, I pulled the recovery, fill light, vibrance, contrast and clarity sliders all the way to the right (100) and black to 40. This resulted in a really garish look and the trick was to use saturation to reduce the color to suit your taste. I then tweaked all of the above sliders and the white balance to match what was in my head.

Give it a try if you are looking for another way to look at one of your images, it might work for you.  This treatment works well on buildings and machinery, particularly when they are weathered.  The effect on people is a bit of a wild card so it definitely doesn’t work for everything (or anything depending on what you like!)

For reference, above is the original photo with only an increase to contrast from the original RAW file out of the camera.  I like this image and it has the look that I usually display.  I’m actually pretty evenly split between these two versions of the photograph.  The vivid one brings the temple more prominently into the scene and makes the story about the people and the temple.  The “normal” version has the father and son as the primary subjects and the story is about the two of them together in the canoe.  The temple serves as a great backdrop but does not demand attention.  I would love to hear your thoughts on which works for you.

Just to highlight the impact of this treatment on buildings, here is another normal and vivid comparison.  The photograph is also from Inle Lake.

Above is the normal version and below is its vivid counterpart.

7 responses

  1. Sweet blog! I found it while browsing on Yahoo News. Do
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    October 21, 2013 at 8:06 am

  2. Val Erde

    I’m an artist, not a photographer, but I work with Photoshop (not Lightroom) so am familiar with adjusting images. I like the upper part of the enhanced photo (the father and child photo), where the temple roof is enhanced, but prefer the more realistic look of the rest of the photo in the lower one.

    When it looked very new, I was very attracted to (viewing) enhanced photos, particularly HDR ones, but it seems that so many people are doing them there needs to be some way for individual photographers to make their work stand out.

    It’s a very illustrative effect you’ve used here. It would be brilliant on a magazine cover or similar.

    Just a perspective from a non-photographer, for what it’s worth!

    August 30, 2010 at 5:54 pm

  3. I have a similar issue with my work. While I love (subtle) HDR or textures or other techniques, some day I can barely see my photos in black and white, let alone doing anything radical! That doesn’t mean I don’t love experimenting, but I only post what still feels like *me*

    August 6, 2010 at 10:16 am

    • Keeping a consistency is important, like you, I often go with what feels like me (or the me when I was making the image).

      I love your cat image in your blog (July 23rd post) – the negative space and the black/white color palette is magic. Ready for a magazine cover or a full page ad.

      August 6, 2010 at 10:35 am

  4. I like the enhanced look. I must admit that I don’t have an easy time getting that look. However one thing that I really like on my Nikon D300 is the Vivid Mode. It certainly makes it easier to get this look.

    July 28, 2010 at 1:22 pm

    • I use Canon gear but I’m a huge fan of the D300/D700/D3 lineup. Steep learning curve for some of the feature sets but they allow for so much creativity. For rich color I always try to get out when it is raining or just after it stops. During a dry spell, I like to play around and see what I can bring out in post processing. Some hits, some misses but always fun.

      July 28, 2010 at 10:24 pm

  5. Mom & Dad

    I like the enhanced look in both pictures, in the first one it changes a grey flat day into a cheerier picture and in the second it makes the picture more interesting to view. Many may not agree with me…Love Mom

    July 16, 2010 at 12:03 pm

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