Everyone would agree that a great photo starts with a great capture—good composition, good light, good exposure, and a certain ineffable quality of magic that comes together at the moment the shutter is released. However, a great photo is not really finished at the moment of capture. That capture, however great it is, exists as pure potential until it is rendered viewable to an audience. Many times the full potential of an image is never realized, either through neglect or ignorance, or simply settling for some default! My mission has been to discover the best possible rendering of an image by working the raw capture with whatever tools become available. This is an ongoing process that has been evolving for many years, and continues to evolve to this day.
I have mentioned before that it is very helpful to practice with other photographers images, because you are often more objective when you do not have a personal memory of the scene as captured. I thought I’d share my creative photo-rendering process in this post using a spectacular image captured by my fiancé Bobbi Lane. This was captured during one of her travel workshops in Ethiopia. The raw file default rendering shows up in Lightroom/ACR like this:
I tend to use Lightroom as a comping tool, applying adjustments to see what the image might look like, with the full knowledge that I will work up the image in Photoshop using more refined techniques to get better quality. My initial Lightroom adjustments yielded the following:
The slider settings necessary to arrive at this rendering look like this: