Continuity, Continuity, Continuity

Why I love Lightroom –  I can build continuity of atmosphere across a diverse shoot.

First things first, I’m not being paid to write this -seeing as how I’ve only got about four entries so far and I’m not storming the blogosphere, I’m sure you’re savvy enough to realise that this is not a sponsored post. So, with disclaimers out of the way, I want to tell you the main reason I love Lightroom.

It enables continuity of atmosphere across a shoot when dealing with natural lighting.

Outside of the studio (or portable studio) light conditions can change rapidly, and, in  some cases, a quick change of lighting can mean a photographer can get some very creative shots. However, this can work against you in a professional setting – It’s all very well getting a single amazing, gobsmaking shot which you’ll be able to exhibit in its own right, but then your client is going to wonder why you couldn’t pull the same trick off for the rest of the shoot, and you’re going to get a result which is full of regret rather than wonder. Hence, you want consistency – especially with clients now expecting to see all the shots from a shoot presented as an entire, finished album. The day of a handful of lovingly curated exhibition quality prints is well and over for the average, competitively priced photographer, unless you have a spectacularly trusting client (though if you are a prospective client feel free to talk to me about this option – I’ll be very happy to discuss a vision with you and you’d have a very happy photographer!)

So, lightroom is your friend in these circumstances – even on the most diverse shoot, most lighting conditions break down into three or four types. For example, at an outdoors party it would be shaded, direct sunlight, overcast and undercover- and with lightroom you can get your settings for each, line up a selection from your set from each lighting type, put them side by side and work out how to make them look as consistent as possible whilst still retaining the character of the shot you took. then, once happy you can do one of two things – make a preset or just copy the settings and then go through the filmstrip looking for all shots in a similar lighting condition and then apply it. The easiest way to do this is use the ctrl and left click on the thumbnails selection and then right click and paste settings to all selected photos. This then gives you a great stating place to do all your further edits – if you’re really lucky you won’t have to do anything more, but this doesn’t generally happen unless you want to tell a particular story with your photos.

Of course, there are scenarios where you’ll think that it’s all against you – a evening shoot with rapidly changing light conditions, where the light counter intuitively gets cooler as the sun gets lower – then you realise that this is the case in the shadows, but if your subject is in direct or reflected light it’s getting a lot warmer right until the sun dips below the horizon. Then it’s just a case of working out what’s your priority in the photo, and being chronologically aware of when your photo was taken.

Of course, there are just times where you just want to tell a story with a single photo – and then you can use colour temperature shifts, vignetting and colour saturation controls with a slight nod to instagram filters and half remembered film stock, and then do some slight recovery around the eyes to bring up the impact, something a bit like what I did with this unpromising and overexposed shot from my misbehaving camera.

original, overexposed

Original shot, poor exposure but adequate histogram

Reworked and recovered

Reworked and recovered

Reworked in LR by dropping the exposure by 1.67, upping the temperature to 10964, dropping the contrast a touch, upping shadows, whites and blacks but dropping highlights, bumping clarity and other presence, selective saturation and desaturation on various colours, and a touch of vignetting to give it a little bit of a 70s sundrenched feel. And finally a little work in the eyes to bring back some of the blue we lost when we did the fairly drastic temperature shift.