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Lightroom Editing Series Photography Street Photography Urban Photography

How to Make a Bad Picture Look Good in Adobe Lightroom

Final Image

Images © Jack (Wei Xi) Luo | Photograph IO. All rights reserved.

For more Lightroom editing workflows like this one, click here. Disclaimer/warming : you can’t actually turn a 100% crappy shot into an 100% amazing one. While Lightroom and digital darkroom these days can overcome most technical shortcomings with relative ease; talk about noise reduction, tonal editing to modify the sensor feel, or even shake reduction as of Photoshop CC, NOTHING will fix bad composition and plain simple laziness. Sorry. 

What happens when you take a bad (ok, ordinary) point and shoot picture and try to make it into something good?

In this fourth of the Lightroom Editing Series, we’ll turn an bad (ordinary?) picture of a Chinese highway (it’s in Shenyang if I recall correctly) taken using a 2008 compact, the Sony DSC-H50, into a great looking shot using modern Adobe Photoshop Lightroom. And it’s a video this time 🙂

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Lightroom Editing Series

How to Edit a Double Exposure Scene in Lightroom

Montreal Metro Multiple Exposure
The before/after result of this lightroom editing guide.

Images © Wei Xi Luo | Photograph IO. All rights reserved.

For more Lightroom editing workflows like this one, click here. View the different steps distraction-free using the lightbox by clicking on the images. 

In this second article on Lightroom editing, we’ll give a film look (without VSCO or any other presets) to a double exposure (an article on how to take multiple exposures is coming very soon) shot of people waiting in the Montreal Metro, Lionel-Groulx station textured with the picture of a wall. The first exposure of this image, the walls in the background, was shot at 1/30 sec @ f/4, ISO 800 while the second exposure, the people waiting on a bench, was shot at 1/15 sec @ f/4, ISO 800m both using a Fuji X-Pro1 with 18mm f/2 lens.

1) Distortion correction (or why the 18mm f/2 is soft in the corners)

Montreal Metro Double Exposure
Before distortion correction
Montreal Metro Double Exposure
After distortion correction

Although the Fuji X-Pro1 applies automatic distortion correction to its regular RAW files, multiple exposure RAW files produced by this camera doesn’t include that correction for whatever reason. This is something to keep in mind especially if you shoot with an *extremely* high distortion lens such as the 18mm f/2 XF R lens. No, I am not saying that this lens is bad, in fact, I would expect such a compact lens with fast aperture to have a high amount of distortion. But many people on the web wonder why this lens’ sharpness isn’t that good in corners, and that is because Fuji does automatically correct distortion to make it invisible, thus rendering corners soft.

But what happens when no distortion correction is applied? Well … an extremely pronounced barrel effect. Although I don’t know the exact distortion values to correct this lens, dialling + 20 (!!!) and constraining it to crop seemed to do the job. 

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Lightroom Editing Series

How to Edit Blown Highlights in Lightroom

New York Foggy Street
A foggy scene of a street in New York City. (Original photo)

Images © Wei Xi Luo | Photograph IO. All rights reserved.

For more Lightroom editing workflows like this one, click here. View the different steps distraction-free using the  lightbox by clicking on the images.

One of the many requests we have received over here at Photograph IO is in our editor’s editing workflow. As a result, we’ve decided to start a weekly series on Lightroom editing from start to finish. Although the post and screenshot format will be currently used, we might consider switching to Youtube/Vimeo videos if you readers prefer. Let us know in the comments! For the first image to edit, we will be starting with a relatively easy picture to process, a foggy street scene in New York City. I took this picture at 1/200 sec @ f/1.4, ISO 200 using a Fujifilm X-Pro1 with a 35mm f/1.4 lens, and intend to convert into a high-contrast black and white photo.

1) Cropping and straightening

The original photo was already straightened well-enough : there was no need to adjust, and the composition fitted nicely in the golden overlay in Lightroom 5.5, so no adjustments here.

2) White balance

Since I intend to convert this color shot into B&W as the original SOOC jpeg was, I decided to skip this part altogether since the in-camera WB was good enough for my needs and white balance for B&W doesn’t usually do much of a difference. No adjustments here either.