Take 2: Adventures in bokeh

Before and after shots can be quite fun. Every now and then I take a digital photograph that goes on a bigger life changing journey after the shutter fires than most. I’m going to post the more extreme examples of these from time to time just for fun under the heading Take 2.

I’m not always that fond of editing pictures. I consider it mostly a kind of necessary evil when it comes to digital photography. I am not a fan of the amount of time that can pass unnoticed once you venture down an editing wormhole, hunting for some kind of “perfection” with an image, when of course there’s no such thing. Many long hours have I spent making miniature adjustments to images as if my life depended on it, moving sliders backwards and forwards, when really most of the work has already been achieved in camera.

A few weeks ago I took a picture that I was really excited to have a look at properly once I’d got home. I thought it would look a treat with relatively little enhancement. A branch delicately swaying in the breeze, glistening sunlight bouncing off a stream in the background, and gorgeous hazy sunshine. You can’t always judge a picture that accurately when you look at it on the camera screen, and especially if you’re looking at said screen in bright sunshine, but I knew it was going to have potential even if it did look a little washed out.

I got the photo onto the computer and I can’t say I was impressed. It was over exposed, the colours were muddy and cold, and there was a massive big purple blob of light across it. It wasn’t exactly a striking or well balanced image and was pretty far from what I had in my head. However, the focus was pin sharp, the composition really pleasing, and the magical bokeh and sunlight really made me want to try and rescue it. Trying to fix messed up images can often be an exercise in futility, but I think I made the right choice here.

The main adjustments I made (using Lightroom 4):

  • brushed over the purple area and took the tint over the to green side of the spectrum to counteract it (I did this with two separate brushes in different amounts so that it blended well)
  • took the temperature right over to the warm end of the spectrum, and the tint slightly towards the pink end
  • slightly deepened the blacks
  • raised the clarity to a high degree
  • lowered the saturation and vibrance
  • upped the highlights and lowered the shadows
  • slightly raised the orange saturation
  • raised the luminance a little for orange, yellow, and green
  • applied colour noise reduction
  • a very, very slight vignette
  • slight straightening/cropping

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