Stacy at Visual Venturing has been hosting a weekly forum called AfterBeforeFriday for quite a few weeks now. It is really interesting to see how other photographers structure their workflow and how they create the image they want to achieve. I have been using Lightroom for a few months now and am stumbling over the processes, but have just about worked out my own system (it seems to work better if you have one!) so thought I would try and contribute to Stacy’s excellent forum.
This image was taken one evening, one of our neighbours was burning some garden rubbish. Whilst we were muttering about the fact that as we have a garden waste collection it seemed a crazy thing to do, the sun shone through the trees and caught the smoke and made some beautiful patterns. Of course I grabbed the camera, held my breath and went outside to attempt to capture it! The camera never quite manages to capture what you actually see (or maybe want to see!) so I put the image through Lightroom to “enhance” it.
My first step is usually to crop the image and as it was the light rays I wanted as my main focus I took out some of the black space at the bottom of the image.
Secondly I increased the contrast, boosted the highlights and shadows to bring out the rays and increased the clarity to create separation of the light and dark tones.
I increased the temperature and slightly moved the tint slider to create a more pleasing (I think) overall colour.
I then sharpened the image (to about 40) to make the lines on the rays cleaner and then smoothed it to stop it looking so grainy.
Finally I added a very slight shadow vignette to draw the eye into the centre of the image.
As I thought the original image came out a little drab, my aim was to make the it more “punchy” and defined. I hope I have succeeded, I’d be really interested to hear what you think.