Insight into Editing Process

I’m still working with a batch of images I made over the weekend. (Actually, I’m procrastinating. I have two sets of essays I need to grade, and I’m putting it off!)

I love two kinds of images: images with deep, rich color, slightly “underexposed” to make the colors deeper and richer, and I like images with softer, more romantic moods, more “transparent” colors and treatments. I have not worked with that latter treatment very much, but I am learning to create the images with the richer colors. At first, I simply changed the exposure in Lightroom or Photoshop to underexpose by 1/3. It worked. It was simple. But I knew I could do more.

Here’s my experiment today. I started with this image. (If you know the name of this flower, please tell me. Mr. Chappells at the nursery told me, but by the time I got home, I had forgotten. I know it is a C, an O, and PH, and maybe an E. Vanna White, are you there?)

Here is my original, as shot.

Original without edits

It has been converted to JPEG by Lightroom for use on the web, but this is the RAW image. Most RAW images need some enhancements to bring out the best. The advantage of using RAW images, though, is that the camera records more detail, so there’s more data to work with later in Lightroom.

Before sending the image to Photoshop, I’ll make a few adjustments: setting the black points and the white points, adjusting highlights and shadows, adjusting clarity and perhaps vibrance and/or saturation. A while back, I read a book by David du Chemin about editing in Lightroom, and he recommended using a medium contract curve on images and readjusting as necessary. Edited original

It already looks better, and I could be satisfied with this. But I’m going to do more in Photoshop. If you use Lightroom for basic edits, there is a quick way to send an image into Photoshop: Ctrl-E sends it straight into Photoshop.

I have been learning about luminosity masks. There is a lot I don’t know, but I’m beginning to learn more.

Once in Photoshop, I create a duplicate layer from the background with the short Ctrl-J. (oh, if you use a Mac, substitute Command for Ctrl.)

Open the Channels adjustment panel, and look at the four channels: RBG, Red, Blue, Green. The latter three will be monotone. Choose the channel with the greatest contrast between the highlights and the darks.


I thought the Green channel had the greatest degree of contrast. Select the highlights by holding the Ctrl key while left-clicking on the Green channel thumbnail. The “marching ants” will outline the highlights.

Then create a Curves adjustment layer. Adjust the curves to make the highlights a little darker by dragging the square on the right side of the curve down. You can also adjust the other areas of the curve as well until you’re satisfied with the look of the image.


Compare the two images: the original with the final. What do you think?

Original without edits

flower highlight edit

By Olivia Fulmer

I am the OliviaIrene of OliviaIrene Photography. I am a photographer, a teacher, a story teller. I use this space to tell stories of life, family, and faith through words and images. I'd love to share your stories as well. Join me in this journey.

I love conversation, the close, intimate kind amongst friends. Won't you join me? I look forward to a good coze.

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