Sunset Disappointment 2

In Sunset Disappointment PT1 I went out to do some tips on sunset photography, but the sunset was disappointing. I was tempted to pack in and forget it but then I had a thought. What about the times this happens to other photographers? What can you do about it?

Is it possible to make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear and fix everything in Lightroom?

So we have some RAW files, now in part 2 lets see if it’s possible to make it into a great image from them or not. Then we’ll work on an image taken a couple months earlier when conditions were perfect to see how they stack up against each other.

It’s tempting to believe everything can be mended in post-production when we retouch our images. And it is to some extent, if you shoot RAW and you’re your own jpgs instead of leaving it to your camera. Like it or not, some post-production will be done.

When you shoot in jpg only mode, your camera makes a RAW file, which is like a recipe for the image but isn’t an image file itself. That get’s handed over to the camera’s on board developing software which them adds colour, adjusts contrast etc, makes a jpg then deletes the original RAW.

Whilst convenient, there’s a problem with this. Your camera is not creative and cannot think for itself. It can only work according to what its programmers have told it about the average image and develop your image accordingly. But the most interesting images aren’t average. They are usually shot in challenging, tricky lighting, which need some creative judgement when they are developed.

It is possible to set up pre-sets, which can default to more or less contrast, colour, saturation, brightness etc. But they are only defaults and can’t deal creatively on an image-to-image basis. I guess you could try different settings on location, but to my mind it’s very fiddly and you only have the camera’s LCD to check them on. And these are notoriously inaccurate.

I prefer to shoot RAW and do it myself in Lightroom. That way I get what I want from my images, instead of what the camera wants. I mean, who’s the creative photographer here?!

Personally, I think Lightroom is a fantastic bit of software, which can get the very best from our RAWs. But the better the original is the better the finished photo is. So that means not only composing and exposing correctly, you have to be in the right place, in the right light with the right weather too.

Photography comes from within the photographer.

Not from within the camera. It doesn’t matter how expensive your camera is, how powerful your computer is or how many elements your lens has. If you don’t take responsibility for your photos and make some effort, the photos are unlikely to be great!

Photography is a holistic thing. It’s obviously a blend of creative and technical skills, but there’s a lot of common sense involved too. A lot of thinking shots through, doing research to make sure you are in the right place at the right time – and pressing the shutter button at just the right moment too.

That means understanding your camera’s controls and how to blend them into techniques. How to find the best composition and light that’s appropriate for the subject. Then you combine all these together as you think like a photographer.

If you’re someone who’s already using Lightroom, but images go missing, there are Catalogs all over the place or you’re not sure what they are, can’t find photos or organise them. Take a look at my 7 Steps To Workflow Mastery in Lightroom course. I think it’s time you took control of Lightroom, instead of it controlling you…

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