How to edit a dusk photograph in Lightroom

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Navanee Viswa
  By Navanee Viswa
How to edit a dusk photograph in Lightroom

Screenshot – 1

So, if you notice the picture above, the scenario seems a tad bit bright for us to call it dusk. Although, guess what, this was shot by me at around 7:00 pm in a beautiful place called Kollam, formerly known as Desinganadu, in South India. So, I know I shot it at the right time, to catch the perfect streak of sunlight artistically falling over my frame. My photograph doesn’t really reflect it, though, does it? A little colour and processing would do the trick. We shall show you exactly how in this article. 

This is where Lightroom comes into the picture. To us, editing a photograph is the closest way to recreating that magical moment that the photographer saw through his/her eyes. A camera is a device that works it’s best to capture light. But it’s not always going to capture what you actually see. So if you ask me, it is okay to process your images. Add a little bit of shine and polish it up, I say. The little fixes you do brings the picture a long way and makes a whole lot of a difference when you look at it as a wholesome picture. So what I’m going to be discussing today is a little technique that I applied to the photograph you saw above using Lightroom. There are various ways in which you can process an image using the various Lightroom tools available. It mostly differs from person to person depending on what they like to showcase, but I’ll walk you through what I did to this particular photograph, and you can always play around and do what you like best. The following are the EXIF details/settings of my original photograph:The camera used was a

Canon 5D MK III and the lens fitted was 50mm f1.8 I. My shutter speed was at 30 secs with my aperture at f/9.0 and ISO at 800.

So, the first thing I did was open the image and in the Develop Module, I applied the standard correction preset to it. My standard develop preset had the following settings:


Tone curve:

I just use Lightroom’s default tone curve preset, “medium contrast”, from the drop-down menu. Also, I generally don’t make any default changes when it comes to Color Adjustments or Split Toning, so I didn’t apply any on this image either.

Detail panel

My settings for the Detail Panel are as follows:


Lens Correction panel

By default, I enable Chromatic Aberration & Profile correction, check boxes and leave the setup as default. By doing this, Lightroom automatically reads the metadata from the RAW file when we import and applies the respective lens corrections.

I keep the Transform panel off to not let Lightroom to do the upright corrections on its own and to save import time as well. And I didn’t feel the need to make any changes to the Effects panel either.

After applying the above settings while importing itself, I scan the image for White balance & exposure correction, and later for any crop requirements as well.

What I felt was that this image required some amount of white balance to match the actual scenario that I saw, and to the bring the contrast and darkness that the image actually deserves. This creates more drama to the picture and adds more visual appeal to the picture, making it look more natural.

After applying the corrections in the basic panel with the white balance and the exposure, I ended up with this image below:

Screenshot – W/O Graduated filter and basic panel adjustment 

Now we have to work on the portion of the picture which has the clouds, let’s look at what I have done.

To change the colour of the clouds, I had to make a change to the following settings:

Temperature: + 50
Tint: + 10
Exposure: – 1
Shadows: – 100
I also added some final touches to the image as it helps the image look finished in any editing process. I did some spot removal to make the image smoother and some amount of Sharpening and Vignetting. A little brush here and there and voila! I got this: 

These are the edits I personally used to get what I thought was the best out of the picture. You can always play around with the different tools in Lightroom and toggle around with the settings and edit options by creating virtual copies as well.

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Navanee Viswa
Navaneethan Viswanathan (best known as Navanee Viswa) is a professional photographer based in Chennai. After completion of his Engineering and Management degrees he worked as a Civil Engineer for almost 10 years and slowly realized that his true passion was in building good photographs rather than building a structured construction. This made him quit his job and become a full time photographer to pursue his passion. Now he specializes in Candid Wedding photography primarily, he also does Product photography, and Industrial photography. Navaneeth is a trekker and a traveller, who enjoys photographing things he comes across during his travels. He contributes articles regularly to photography websites like Digital Photography School , and he also maintains a photography blog which is followed by many. This blog has lots to talk about photography and the techniques involved. His works have been exhibited at the photography exhibition organized as part of Art Chennai 2012. Many of his works have been chosen as best entries in on-line galleries like One Eyeland . Navaneeth is also well known in the industry for his photography related workshops.

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