Summer is a great time for taking pictures. The sun stays out longer, giving you more time to shoot. The temperatures warm up, making it more comfortable to get outside and take nature pictures. And being out with friends and family makes for some great photo opportunities. But, summer photos also have the disadvantage of never quite turning out how you’d expect. The sun can create unwanted shadows and lights. But fear not, Lightroom is to the rescue. You don’t need to know how to rock Photoshop, you just need to know some basics about Lightroom. With a few simple settings, your summer picture can look as amazing as you imagined.
We’re going to be using the below photo for editing. Shooting in the shade is a good way to avoid lights and shadows, but, as with this picture, the end product can look dull and more in tune with spring or fall. We’ll be fixing that with some simple adjustments that anyone can do.
Temperature and Tint
The first step in editing your photo is to adjust the temperature and tint. Temperature will give your photo that warm glow that you associate with summer. By increasing the temperature of the picture, you can heat up your image and immediately make it feel more summer-like. Lowering the tint a bit will also help. The shade in the image has toned down the green of the grass. But green grass and bright colors are exactly what people think when they think summer. When you lower the tint, you increase the green in the picture, making the grass stand out more.
Already the image looks a bit more like a summer photo. However, now everything is a bit soft, too washed out.
Exposure and Contrast
To fix this image more, and make it stand out, we’re going to adjust the exposure and contrast. First, we’re going to drop the exposure a bit. This may make it seem like the photo is getting more washed out, but it won’t for long. After that, we want to increase the contrast. This is why we lowered the exposure. The contrast will sharpen the lines between the objects, making them stand out. Then the exposure helps soften the lines, making the picture look more natural.
See? With just a few simple sliders we’ve turned a dark, lack-luster image into a bright, colorful summer picture. But there’s still some more we can do.
Shadows and Highlights
The next step we’re going to take is to adjust the highlights, shadows, whites, and blacks. For this image, we lowered the shadows and blacks and increased the whites. We did this for two reasons. One, we can’t ignore that the image is in the shade. Even though we can make the image look more bright, we need to pay attention to the shadows. By lowering the shadows, it actually darkens them to show off the shaded areas. Then we have to compensate by increasing the whites to help the model stand out.
Now there’s just one last step to making this the perfect summer picture. This next step is a bit more advanced than adjusting sliders, but it’s simple enough, and in the end, it will really make your image stand out.
Creating a Solar Flare
You’ve probably noticed that a lot of summer images have a flare in one corner or one side of the image. This happens when you shoot directly at the sun. But it’s not always a good idea, or possible to get this effect. If you can’t capture it naturally, you can produce a sun flare effect in Lightroom.
First, create a Radial Filter in the area of the picture you want the flare to occur. It’s a good idea to create it where the sun would naturally be, so look at shadows in your image. For this image, we chose the top left corner to help show off how the filter works, even though the sun is most likely on the left/behind the camera.
When you first create your filter, you’ll notice that the effect is opposite of what you see above. To change this, simply scroll to the bottom of your options on the right and click the Invert Mask box. Then lower the feathering a bit to make the circle look more natural.
Now to make it look more like a real sun flare, we want to increase the temperature, drop the tint, and up the exposure. This process is similar to editing your original photo, but we want to take things to more of an extreme to make the flare bright enough.
With a few simple adjustments, we just turned a dull picture into a bright summer masterpiece. With a few spare minutes, a small understanding of how Lightroom sliders work, you too can edit your photo to look like the perfect summer photo.