Hey everyone, before we get started I just need to help pay the bills for a moment. I have some of my 1-day Lightroom seminars in the next 8 weeks for KelbyOne.com. I’ll be in Covington, KY, Richmond, Houston and Los Angeles between now and March. Here’s a link to the seminar website. The seminar gets rave reviews from everyone, and I’d love to see you out there. Okay, back to business…
Welcome to Day 9 in my self-project-ish, month-long postings of images I’m only using Lightroom to edit. In fact, I kind of changed the name this week to “Lightroom Only” since it seems to make more sense. If you’re just coming in to reading this and haven’t read the original post where I wrote why I’m doing this, then make sure you check that out too. Okay, here goes:
The Photo: Bruges, Belgium
I’m digging back in the archives to an old favorite of mine. This was a photo I took on a trip to Bruges Belgium in 2007. I taught at a conference for Adobe in Amsterdam, and took a trip to Belgium after. Bruges is this gorgeous canal-based city and sometimes referred to as the “Venice of the North”. I’ve never been to Venice but it’s definitely one of the most beautiful cities I’ve been to. It’s also a very touristy city. It’s packed! I still remember waiting on this street for all of the people to move away. It took forever. As soon as it looked like a person would exit the frame, another one would walk in.
(click to see the image larger)

Photo Details:
Camera: Nikon D200 (yep, it was a while ago)
Lens: Nikon 17-35mm
Aperture: f/8
Shutter Speed: 1/25 seconds
ISO: 100
No Tripod
Basic Processing
The photo started out pretty dark. It was a cloudy day, late in the afternoon and I didn’t have a tripod. So I underexposed a bit to keep the shutter speed as fast as possible. So the first thing I did was work with the Exposure, Shadows and Highlights to get everything brighter and more balanced. I also increased the Temp slider to make the photo warmer. Finally, a little Clarity to help boost the contrast and some Saturation to add some color.

Sharpening and Lens Correction
Lens Corrections were huge here. See, apparently Bruges is tilted toward one side because of the tides in the canals, so when I took this photo it appears it’s really crooked (because I would never take such a crooked photo). Now, you know I’m totally bs’ing you here right? I must have had a few too many of those Belgian beers that day because my framing is way off, but we definitely need to fix it.  I went to the Lens Corrections panel and clicked the Enable Profile Corrections checkbox which didn’t do much. Then I clicked the A for Auto Upright and it worked perfectly.

From there I went to the Detail panel for some sharpening. There’s a ton of little details in this photo so it can handle a lot of sharpening. So I cranked it way up on all sliders.

Focussing the Light
Next I went to the Radial Filter to focus the light. I could have used the Vignette adjustments but it’ll focus toward the center. With the Radial Filter (and reduced Exposure setting) I can really get your attention toward the top where the walkway turns out of view.

Detailed Adjustments
Next I went to the Adjustment Brush for some detailed adjustments. First, I wanted to add some more detail to the photo so I painted 100% clarity over the whole thing.

Then I clicked New to add another adjustment. I painted (with a large brush) along the walkway to draw attention to it. Almost like lighting the path through the photo.

Finally, I though the Clarity adjustment brightened the photo too much, so I went back to the Radial Filter and just darkened the original adjustment I added before.

 What Else?
There’s really only one two things I missed here. As I’ve said before, onOne’s Perfect Effects Dynamic Contrast plug-in has become my go-to plug-in for contrast and detail. It would do a great job on the details and contrast in this photo. Does Clarity make a good alternative. Definitely, but each clarity-contrasty-detail adjustment/filter has it’s own “feel” and I happen to like onOne’s. The only other thing I missed here is Photoshop. I’m being really picky with this one though. If you look at the top of the photo you’ll see a small white triangle area, which looks like it’s part of the white edging or molding around one of the buildings.

It doesn’t look really bad here, but if I printed this, and framed it with a white matte, that little edge would stand out. I always try to get rid of bright areas around the edge (especially if they’re triangular since those really draw attention), but Lightroom doesn’t really have the cloning/healing power to do it well so I’d probably use Photoshop. I did try it though so you could see. Zoomed out, it’s actually not that bad, but again, I’m being really picky by even pointing it out.

Anyway, here’s the Before/After.

Have a great day!