Being in the midwest, I have to deal with a lot of ugly, grey skies. In Lightroom, I’ve learned to take advantage of the gradient filter tool to add subtle hints of blue in the skies of my images. And while this helps with the color of the sky, it doesn’t help with the flatness of the rest of the image.
Recently I discovered Perfect Exposure, part of the Perfectly Clear suite of products, and was blown away. I decided to take a look back into my archives, and I soon realized that by using Perfect Exposure, I added some “oomph” to my image that I hadn’t thought was possible.
Subtle Changes Make the Difference
I decided to look back on a few images I took this summer at the Out of Chicago Conference. On the first day of the conference, the skies were dark and grey.
Both edits of the image are acceptable in my eyes. But when you look at the image on the left, you see some hard shadows in the sculpture. The trees are also darker — some of the leaves are almost black. And despite me adding some blue to the sky, it still appears to be a bit flat.
The image on the right, however, has the shadows lessened on both the sculpture and the trees, and the sky appears to have a bit more depth. The detail in the wood on both the sculpture and walkway is still there, but everything has just been subtly enhanced.
While I’m sure I could’ve done these changes in Lightroom or Photoshop, Perfect Exposure saved me time by letting me select the “Gentle Boost” preset. If I wanted to, I could take it a step further, by using the “Fix Dark” or “Details & Shadows” presets, but for me, “Gentle Boost” provided the changes I desired, and helped me finalize this image.
From Scratch to Completion
If I take a look at a photo I took from the same location, but start from scratch, the adjustments are much more drastic. There are multiple problems I have with this image, but the biggest issue I see is depth.
You can see the lack of shadows and contrast in the image, so I decide to start there. The image is slightly hazy, so I choose the “Dehaze” preset and start there.
But for me, I really want this image to pop. I decide to click on “Adjust” and further optimize what the preset has given me.
I start by moving the Depth slider all the way to the right. This has minimal effect, as it’s already at 75, so I decide to click on Skin & Depth Bias, choosing the Normal option and leaving it at the default 50 point.
I also notice that the image is still pretty dark. I go up to the Exposure slider, and manually change this to 130. This seems to lighten up the lighter portions of the wood, revealing slightly more wood grain, but doesn’t have as much of an impact on the darker pieces…exactly what I want.
From here, I know I have some cleanup work to do (there’s some specs on the clear areas of the image), so I can take this into Lightroom or Photoshop and use the spot remover tool to finish it off.
You can see how easy Perfect Exposure makes it to automatically adjust portions of your image. If you have the full version of Perfectly Clear, update to the newest version to receive Perfect Exposure. Or, if you want to just use Perfect Exposure, you can — for free.
For me, editing my images is a way for me to put my own personal mark on them. And while I still do a lot of my work in Lightroom, Perfect Exposure helps me finish my images to a point that would otherwise be tedious in today’s fast turnaround world.