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Post Processing Low Light Photographs in Lightroom

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Post Processing Tips

Photography is the art of capturing objects as they appear in the light. What would you do if the light itself were unavailable? The issue of low light has been a curse to photographers since the time the art form gained popularity. However, that is not a thing to worry today, because there is a way to use smart editing techniques to ensure that you get good photographs even in low light. Below are a few tips to employ proper post-processing for a great image.

Since the conditions involve low light, it is better to start with a good foundation that is a good image with high clarity. It is highly imperative that you shoot in RAW. Moreover, ensure that you get the maximum latitude as possible as possible. This will maximize post-processing efforts

Ensure the Clipped Highlights and Shadows

In Adobe Lightroom, you can hold the Alt key while clicking over the Shadows or Highlights. In addition, you can hover the mouse over the small triangles towards the upper corners of the Histogram. This will identify the areas of the image that contains no information.

There is also a personal decision to be made while clicking in low light. You need to decide whether the clipped shadow areas or the details important to the image are to be captured. Then take the picture accordingly.

Adjust Exposure Correctly For the Subject

Change the exposure of the image as you prepare to click the picture. This will add the essential amount of light available. In turn, this will benefit you while post-processing.

Increase Contrast

This is a process, which will involve several rounds of slider adjustments. You will have to carry out a trial and error on the adjusting option. Then come to a conclusion as to which is the best combination of contrast that suits the image.

There might be some area of darkness on the image. Some examples include the sky. After the exposure of the image was increased, these patches became a lighter shade of gray and hence created more noise.

In photo retouching services, it is usually edited using the clipping option. You can clip the shadowed portions. Increase the Black slider value for this. It is advised to slide it to -100. Note that the contrast can also be adjusted by changing the Tone Curves panel.

White Balance

The contrast and exposure affect the color of the photograph. Hence, it is preferred to use these functions and make the edits before editing the white balance. For this purpose, you can click and drag the Temp slider. You can also employ the Eye Dropper tool to let Lightroom attempt the correction of white balance automatically. The Eye Dropper tool will automatically correct the white balance of your picture.

The main point you need to remember when you use the Eye Dropper tool is that the object you select should be white in color. This could also be black or gray. This tool offers a starting point to start working on. Alter the white balance color temperature and see if the colors in the picture are perfectly balanced and that they do not look awkward.


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The clarity changer is mainly used to edit local contrast, particularly around the midtone area of the image. An increase in clarity will define the edges of the objects and add depth to your image. If you decrease clarity during the product photo editing it will make the details softer and add a dreamy glow to the image.

By raising the Clarity slider to +25, a little more pop is added to the image. However, if you add too much clarity, it accentuates blemishes in portraits and the dull colors of an image. Therefore, use this tool with caution.

Noise Reduction

Noise and color noise are headaches to the low light photographs. These become more evident when captured with less capable cameras. Noise includes a general grainy haze, while the color noise adds tiny specks of random color shades. In fact, these may appear as big splotches, especially on shadowed areas.

Noises are most easily noticeable in dark areas. In addition, it may destroy the beauty of skin tones. Luckily, this issue can be fixed on Lightroom, without affecting the quality of the image to noticeable extents. Remember to shoot at the lowest ISO possible to ensure the best results.

The Noise reduction options can be found below the Sharpening slider in the Details panel. The image looks fine after the editing process is complete. Remember that this has a side effect of reducing the detail to a moderate extent.