Take 2: What’s the time, Mr Schultz?

This weekend I discovered that my windowsill during daylight hours makes a great little blank space as a photo setting for small objects. It’s easy to get in close without a tripod when there’s abundant light bouncing all around the subject.

In my last Take 2 post I talked about a sort of minimal correctional editing on pictures, and how sometimes that’s enough to let the work of the lens and the settings really shine and your picture is done. This post isn’t that much different really although with this example there is very little “wrong” with the image straight from camera (though it’s a touch purple and a little flat). I used the actual watch as a guide and it was simply a nice little study in adjusting colour.


I wanted this image to be clear, almost floating, with no real sense of time or space (context) other than the time on the watch. I wanted the colours to be bright and “true”. The winding mechanism and the hands are exactly in focus but the lower half of the image (further away timewise) is slightly less in focus. Shops often display watches at ten to two or ten past ten because it’s an aesthetically pleasing arrangement for the hands. Beautifully coincidentally, I appear to have stuck to tradition.

Here are the adjustments I made using Lightroom:

  • I adjusted the white balance manually by sight. I prefer to do it this way, sometimes using the dropper tool as a starting point and then finely tuning it. I wanted to offset the purple tinged shadow tones so I warmed the temperature and shifted the tint towards green, until the shadows and background were neutral.
  • I raised the exposure just a touch.
  • I slightly lowered the blacks just so there was a bit more definition in the outline of the watch face.
  • I increased the vibrance overall.
  • I slightly raised the lights and lowered the darks using the tone curve.
  • I altered the hue of the reds, pushing them slightly towards the orange end of the spectrum.
  • I increased both the red saturation and red luminance values.

I like playing with individual colour values. It’s a really simple way to lift an image or completely alter the effect. Once I had managed to get the red in this image true to life I didn’t really need to adjust much else.

Here’s another example shot from the same set of pictures:


I applied the same process, starting with the white balance which needed a slightly different adjustment to the first example image. I personally find the camera’s programmeed white balance settings are a little too much on the cold side, so I usually use a warmer setting than the camera might think I need. Even so, I often find that photographs benefit from a slight tweak of some kind to the white balance and that’s fine as it’s probably the easiest thing to change in the edit.

With both of these shots I went with the automatic white balance setting which was a great way to practice the colour study. With this second example the lighting of the shot is so different from the first that I needed to raise the red saturation a lot more than in the first example and the hue needed to be tipped further into the orange end of the spectrum to achieve a similar colour result.

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