What we see vs what we capture

It can often be frustrating that a final shot isn’t a fair representation of the scene when we were there to witness it.

This is mainly because the human eye can capture much more detail and many more lumens of light than even the best camera.

Shooting in RAW helps to overcome this issue as the camera captures as much information as possible by its sensors. This is then able to be amended in programs such as Lightroom which can help the photographer bring the shot back to what they saw at the shoot.

Enhancing a RAW file does not disrupt the original image, it gives you a mechanism where you can recreate or create new scenes or moods from a single shot.

A RAW photograph contains lots of technical information such as light, dark, sheds, sharpness etc which can all be amended later.

Adobe is currently running a Share Your Summer competition to illustrate the power of Lightroom to enhance various photographic situations using post-production.

I have entered all the competitions so far but have not been successful (yet).

This weeks topic is how to use the gradient and highlight tools to enhance landscapes so I have entered four shots.  All of these photographs I believe I have shared here and on Instagram and Flickr before.

I thought it would be a nice idea to share these images with you so you can see the impact of post-production.

You can see the added warmth, sharpness and depth in the shot on the left, compared to the one on the right.

The white balance was set to auto (something I no longer do) and the exposure was off which meant the colour was washed out and the whites were clipped.  Thankfully all that detail remains in the RAW so I could bring the image back to showcase the fantastic sunset we had on this particular evening in El Morche.

I have used these surfer photos from Tofino so often and with good cause as I love these shots.

I took this on a Lumix camera many years ago and believe the camera was probably set to automatic (everything) and shooting in JPEG.

This means the enhancements in Lightroom are not as crisp as the edits actually affect the image file.

By straightening up the horizon and adding some gradients at the top and bottom, I was able to enhance the sky, bring out more details in the clouds and enhance the reflection on the beach.

When we return to Tofino this year I will hope my photography skills and photographs will be greatly improved.  No more shooting in JPEG and hopefully a better lens (and manual shooting) will get me even better results…

This is a photograph of the lake at Ickworth House in Suffolk.  The original suffers again from odd flat colours due to me having the camera white balance set to automatic.

Changing this and enhancing the highlights, details and colours helps to better illustrate the vibrant summer scene.

I shot this whilst we were enjoying a picnic at Ickworth and the view on the left is the one I remember!

This is a more subtle change to the Rotunda at Ickworth.

Again the white balance was set to auto so the shot on the right is dull and less vibrant.  It lacks contrast and detail.

I’ve made some minor tweaks to the saturation, vibrancy and white balance to get the more colourful version on the left.

As you can see, with some simple tweaks you can achieve great results.

It’s not ideal to shot in JPEG as you lose a lot of detail and ability to enhance everything the camera captures (but in the case of the Surfers image, some enhancement is possible).

I compare this post-production to similar things film photographers used to do when pushing and pulling details in their photographs during the development process.  The benefits of  RAW shooting and Lightroom is you can make small, subtle and instant tweaks for great results.

Fingers crossed I might win one of the competitions with my edits!

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