Critique My Photos - How to improve with Lightroom.

WestEndBoyWestEndBoy Posts: 1,456Member
edited November 2014 in General Discussions
OK everybody. I would love to year your feedback regarding the following photos. Please assume that I only have access to Lightroom, not Photoshop. This is because (1) my Photoshop expertise is limited even though I have it. Next year I am taking the first of three and possibly the second of three Photoshop courses. Also, (2) this will make the critique relevant to users that only have Lightroom and not Photoshop.

I suspect that the following problem that I have presented is a fairly common one. This couple (friends of mine) that I was shooting are particularly challenging (for me, but I suspect easy for the experts on this forum). Both of their eyes are dark and her eyes have prominent bags under them. I shot 844 images during an afternoon from 2pm to sunset and have selected about 90 as worthwhile to give them. These particular two emphasize the above problem more than most. I intend to master the technique on these two images before I spend any time on the other 90 or so images.

I have posted a "before Lightroom" and "after Lightroom". The photos are identical and both have the following Lightroom Adjustments:

Highlights -57
Shadows +83
Whites +24
Blacks -29
Saturation +52
Red Saturation -7
Orange Saturation -33
Green Saturation +78

Both were shot on my D800 with my 85mm 1.4G lens at ISO100, f/4.0 and 1/250sec.

Before Lightroom:

Critique #1 - Minimal Post Processing

The next photo had the following additional adjustments:

1.
Spots removed on both of their faces.
2.
Her face modified with the adjustment brush with clarity -40.
3.
Under her eyes adjusted twice with clarity -33 and exposure +0.41.
4.
All around his eyes adjusted with exposure +0.25 and shadows +59.
5.
Under his eyes further adjusted with exposure +0.25 and shadows +100.

After Lightroom

Critique #2 - More Post ProcessingProcessing">
Post edited by WestEndBoy on
«1

Comments

  • PB_PMPB_PM Posts: 4,006Member
    One possible step would be to darken background, which would make the couple stand out more. As lovely as the fall colours are, they are stealing the attention from the primary subjects.
    If I take a good photo it's not my camera's fault.
  • ElvisheferElvishefer Posts: 329Member
    edited November 2014
    I try to do all my editing in Lightroom because I appreciate its speed and my work isn't held to as high a standard as a pro photographer's... but even so I'm no expert so take what I have to say with a grain of salt.

    "I suspect that the following problem that I have presented is a fairly common one."

    It sure is, for those of us who don't have a herd of 18 year old models at our beck and call. :)

    I think you did great handling their eyes.

    I would agree with PB_PM and add a clarity decrease to max for the same brush, just to soften the background a bit more, and take more of the edges off the colors (blend them.. fake bokeh).

    Post edited by Elvishefer on
    D700, 70-200mm f/2.8 VRII, 24-70mm f/2.8, 14-24mm f/2.8, 50mm f/1.4G, 200mm f/4 Micro, 105mm f/2.8 VRII Micro, 35mm f/1.8, 2xSB900, 1xSB910, R1C1, RRS Support...

    ... And no time to use them.
  • spraynprayspraynpray Posts: 6,089Moderator
    I think you did a pretty decent job, but perhaps it would have been a better shot if you had positioned a reflector to fill the shadows around the eyes rather than try to save it in post. I can see you had pretty unhelpful light there though. Be careful about trying to over use Lightroom as it does have it's limitations and you have done a pretty good job of getting the maximum out of its capabilities in those shots. If you do the background softening/lightening trick with a brush (instead of selecting the subjects in PS), you can get a bizarre halo of changing bokeh or exposure round the subjects.

    Also I don't use the spot remover to remove blemishes that are permanent unless asked. Those look like moles on his face but I could be wrong.

    Just my 2c.
    Always learning.
  • Rx4PhotoRx4Photo Posts: 1,200Member
    Lovely couple. As others have said I also think you did a good job handling the darkness around the eyes. For some reason it seems when flipping back and forth on the images in Flickr, on the image where the eye darkness is corrected, it seems that her teeth lose some brightness. Try it and see if I'm just imagining this. Could be some kind of illusion for me though.

    Her teeth also have a slight tone of blue but I do notice the blue tones in his hair highlights as well. I'm thinking you could select her teeth and desaturate colors until the blue turns more to a natural whiter teeth hue. This might make them appear too white, if so, then you could reduce exposure to tone the white down a bit.
    I usually tell people that I will remove blemishes, scars, and marks if they don't mind. But natural moles and "beauty" marks I leave unless they want them removed. I am known to tone down a girl's beauty mark if I think it's a bit too prominent. Simply use a lower opacity healing brush.

    To me, the overall exposure is a tad bit cool and dark. Perhaps a slight tweak to increase the color temp would also get rid of the blue hue that I see in the teeth. I think I would up the overall exposure some as well to brighten the image. Then reduce some saturation in the reds and greens to make the couple stand out more. After all is done, add a touch of vignette to make them pop even more. That will also help direct the viewers eyes to the center of the photo.

    As tedious as it is, and ridiculous as I may look sometimes, mostly working alone I try to lug a light stand and one flash with me on shoots like this. I love natural light shooting but there's always a little pop that flash adds to a photo like this.
    D800 | D7000 | Nikkor 14-24mm f/2.8 | 24-70mm f/2.8 | 70-200mm f/2.8 | 35mm f/1.8G | 85mm f/1.4G | Sigma 35mm f/1.4 Art | Sigma 50mm f/1.4 Art | Sigma 50mm f/1.4 EX DG HSM | Zeiss 100mm Makro-Planar ZF.2 | Flash controllers: Phottix Odin TTL

  • tcole1983tcole1983 Posts: 981Member
    To me it seems overall dark. Maybe up the exposure of the whole image? Unless that is the look you were going for.
    D5200, D5000, S31, 18-55 VR, 17-55 F2.8, 35 F1.8G, 105 F2.8 VR, 300 F4 AF-S (Previously owned 18-200 VRI, Tokina 12-24 F4 II)
  • sevencrossingsevencrossing Posts: 2,800Member
    Unless that is the look you were going for.
    this what makes critiquing other people's images so difficult
    one tip, if you don't already, shoot a grey card during the session
    then use the W/B wand
  • WestEndBoyWestEndBoy Posts: 1,456Member
    I appreciate all of the comments everyone. There is a long weekend coming up so I will have lots of time to incorporate all of your suggestions, repost the results and receive your feedback.
  • +1 on @PitchBlack

    I actually hate to be forum-smartassing on other people's images, but you asked for i...

    One last thing: How you arranged the content of your image.

    1. The pose is extremely awkward, the guy is there with his back bent and this head to the front, the girl looks like she has a basketball under her sweater, and he has his hands under it too and on her boobs or something. I can guess how this came along, but it looks extremely strange. Taking good-looking pictures of non-professionals is a challenging task and you need some tricks, or at least some standard poses that will always look good. There's books out there on posing etc., but they're often not very helpful in practice. Maybe, as always, video tutorials are the best option.

    2. The colors: Wow, you combine green, yellow-reds, red, blue cyan and skin. Reducing the colors to something a little more "sorted" will take your image up many levels, at almost no effort. E.g. if you know that they'll want "autumn" mood, tell them to wear colors that match the mood of something already in there. Cyan and blue is pretty much the worst option here and makes the image look like shot by Ken Rockwell.

    Hope that doesn't come across as offensive. All the best!
  • SportsSports Posts: 365Member
    @WestEndBoy - is there a chance your monitor is too bright or too pale or something? And has wrong WB?
    If the colors on your PC screen are way off, there's no chance you can get the colors right on your photos.
    You've posted some great pictures on PAD, but some of them are actually also clearly to the blue.
    D300, J1
    Sigma 70-200/2.8, 105/2.8
    Nikon 50/1.4G, 18-200, 80-400G
    1 10-30, 30-110
  • Datacolor Spyder 4 Pro, a good investment that saves you a lot of frustration. Works on every screen, even crappy old laptop screens.

    Indispensable but really cheap: a grey card.
  • Vipmediastar_JZVipmediastar_JZ Posts: 1,708Member
    The xrite color Munki is what I have.
    I just wanted to +1 what Berlin said. A bit too saturated and the pose is awkward.
  • KnockKnockKnockKnock Posts: 372Member
    @WestEndBoy, I admire your guts, posting images and asking opinions! Don't take anything on the Internet personally. It seems like there's good advice coming from 3 places.

    1) generally good work in LR
    2) color and WB issues
    3) what can be done in capture vs post

    I know you specifically asked about the editing software work but I fall more into the 3) camp, which is to say, failing to really address your post ;-)

    A little flash fill or reflector would do wonders for this type of work. Why not shoot at f/1.8 also? When your subject is this close there's no need for more detail. A little softer look and more separation from the background would help. Sure, it tosses the need for those yummy 36MP, but do they really want 30" prints of themselves? Just my $.02.
    D7100, D60, 35mm f/1.8 DX, 50mm f/1.4, 18-105mm DX, 18-55mm VR II, Sony RX-100 ii
  • MsmotoMsmoto Posts: 5,396Moderator
    Lots of suggestions, most very good. Sometimes it works to practice copying anthers style in order to master a certain technique.

    One thought regarding the OP is it would appear to be a vertical shot in a horizontal frame. Aggressive cropping is something which can be done in post, and I find this will take a mundane shot and occasionally turn it into a real winner. The issues of white balance can be deceiving on the internet and in some situations are related to how one has their monitor calibrated.

    Study some of the other NRF members' shots and try duplicating….you can copy anything I have on Flickr https://www.flickr.com/photos/fantinesfotos/ or if you would like an explanation of how and why I did what I did, send a PM
    Msmoto, mod
  • WestEndBoyWestEndBoy Posts: 1,456Member
    edited November 2014
    There are certainly lots of great feedback here. I will explore every suggestion. Sorry for taking awhile to respond, I just became really busy in the last few days (and still am).

    I definitely have a colour issue and I have been holding out for one of the Eizo monitors ($2,000 - $2,500). However, in the meantime, it is causing and issue an I need to fix it - the 80/20 rule is applicable here. The Eizo will give me 100%.

    On the positive side, I have two Dell and an Asus monitor to choose from to calibrate (they looked fine with Microsoft Office - drat). I should be able to get one of the three "close enough" until I buy an Eizo.

    You guys have mentioned a couple of colour management solutions. Are there any others? Which are the best ones in my situation?
    Post edited by WestEndBoy on
  • SportsSports Posts: 365Member
    If the Eizo gets you 100% there are certainly other options that'll get you 98% at half the price. It also depends on the size you want, of course.
    D300, J1
    Sigma 70-200/2.8, 105/2.8
    Nikon 50/1.4G, 18-200, 80-400G
    1 10-30, 30-110
  • donaldejosedonaldejose Posts: 3,199Member
    Have you tried custom white balance?
  • sevencrossingsevencrossing Posts: 2,800Member
    one thing to be aware of
    when uploading jpegs to web sites
    many sites prefer sRGB
    When exporting from LR do check your default color space

  • IronheartIronheart Posts: 3,017Moderator
    Under the same 80/20 rule, you should go buy a colormunki and calibrate all of the monitors you have, takes like 5 minutes and the results can be startling.
    http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/798928-REG/X_Rite_CMUNDIS_ColorMunki_Display.html
  • Rx4PhotoRx4Photo Posts: 1,200Member
    ^^ I wish that could be rented and simply returned for 1/10th the price.
    D800 | D7000 | Nikkor 14-24mm f/2.8 | 24-70mm f/2.8 | 70-200mm f/2.8 | 35mm f/1.8G | 85mm f/1.4G | Sigma 35mm f/1.4 Art | Sigma 50mm f/1.4 Art | Sigma 50mm f/1.4 EX DG HSM | Zeiss 100mm Makro-Planar ZF.2 | Flash controllers: Phottix Odin TTL

  • sevencrossingsevencrossing Posts: 2,800Member
    ^^ I wish that could be rented and simply returned for 1/10th the price.
    some camera clubs do that

  • WestEndBoyWestEndBoy Posts: 1,456Member
    edited November 2014
    ^^ I wish that could be rented and simply returned for 1/10th the price.
    some camera clubs do that

    Yeah, except that you need to re-calibrate on a regular basis. It will be a pain. I may as well just buy it.

    Ironheart, that Colourmunki is ridiculously cheap. Am I going to be satisfied with the result? I am sure it will be better than I have I suppose.

    Donaldjose, I have not tried custom white balance, but will buy a grey card as I am aware of the benefits.

    Sevencrossing, I was not aware of the "uploading sRGB issue". Thanks.
    Post edited by WestEndBoy on
  • spraynprayspraynpray Posts: 6,089Moderator
    There are certainly lots of great feedback here. I will explore every suggestion. Sorry for taking awhile to respond, I just became really busy in the last few days (and still am).

    I definitely have a colour issue and I have been holding out for one of the Eizo monitors ($2,000 - $2,500). However, in the meantime, it is causing and issue an I need to fix it - the 80/20 rule is applicable here. The Eizo will give me 100%.

    On the positive side, I have two Dell and an Asus monitor to choose from to calibrate (they looked fine with Microsoft Office - drat). I should be able to get one of the three "close enough" until I buy an Eizo.

    You guys have mentioned a couple of colour management solutions. Are there any others? Which are the best ones in my situation?
    Classic case of throwing money at something you don't understand in order to 'fix' a problem. A colour managed workflow is essential if you want your images to look right and this can be done cheaply with a colourmunki or spyder, colour passport checker and a bit of effort. Just learn about it and save your money. 2-2.5k on a monitor? Crazy!
    Always learning.
  • WestEndBoyWestEndBoy Posts: 1,456Member
    Perhaps, but that is why I am on Nikon Rumours, to learn.
  • sevencrossingsevencrossing Posts: 2,800Member
    edited November 2014
    Classic case of throwing money at something you don't understand in order to 'fix' a problem. A colour managed workflow is essential if you want your images to look right

    S&P has hit it on the nail
    Perhaps, but that is why I am on Nikon Rumours, to learn.
    The problem with nrf is, you are likely to get too many solutions
    You need look at some books or online training provided by just one expert such as matt kowalski
    Understanding colour is not easy
    but matt kowalski is the best person I have found, to help
    Post edited by sevencrossing on
  • Vipmediastar_JZVipmediastar_JZ Posts: 1,708Member
    edited November 2014
    I got my colormunki during a black friday special. I think it was 45-50% off :)
    Post edited by Vipmediastar_JZ on
Sign In or Register to comment.