29 August 2011
Photoshop Before & After: Capitol Building with Storm Clouds For this round of Photoshop Before & After, I'll talk through my process for Capitol Building with Storm Clouds.
Straight Out of the Camera I shot the Capitol Building in Washington D.C. a few hours after a heavy rain storm. Standing at the bottom of the steps with my back to the sunset, I got a nice upward angle on the golden front-lit building against the dark storm clouds which were now moving into the east. I used the EF 24mm f/1.4 L USM lens on my 5D. The original 24mm version I use is discontinued, but there's an EF 24mm f/1.4L II USM out now. Exposure was f/13 for 1/500 sec. at ISO 200. All of these adjustments were done in Lightroom 3.
Profile Selection and Dust Cleanup The "Camera Landscape" profile is usually my first step for getting colors to pop in outdoor photos. After that profile quick selection I spend a few minutes cleaning dust spots out of the sky with the Spot Removal tool.
Slight White Balance Adjustment I almost always set the camera to Auto WB mode and deal with color temperature later. The 5D made a good guess at this scene with 4850. Here I gave it a slight bump up to 5000.
Brightness and Contrast Up to this point the image has looked pretty flat. I move the Brightness slider up to +57 (from the default 50), push the Clarity slider to +49 for edge contrast and then move on to the Tone Curve to individually adjust things. Starting with a Medium Contrast curve, I push the four sliders around until I like what I see.
- Highlights stay at 0.
- Boost the Lights all the way up to +32.
- Pull the Darks down to -11. A little is usually all that's needed here.
- Pull the Shadows down to -9 to make the darkest areas look really heavy.
Colors and Clouds In terms of bringing back the dramatic look of the sunset lighting against the dark storm clouds, these next two adjustments make a big difference:
The extra clarity in the sky brings out more dust spots, so I go back to work with the Spot Removal clone tool.
- Paint over the clouds with the Adjustment Brush at +100 clarity.
- Vibrance slider boost to +40.
Noise Reduction I can easily see a lot of grain the sky, so I zoom in close and move the Luminance Noise Reduction Slider until things look smooth.
Sharpening I want to be careful not to sharpen noise, so I hold the ALT key while moving the Masking slider. The white areas will be sharpened and the black will be left alone. I settle on 50, then zoom in on some small details and move the sharpening Amount slider until they look good.