Saturday, March 10, 2012

Common Loon and Lightroom 4 Goodness

Common Loon - 1D4, 800, f/8, 1/1000s, ISO 400
I made this image at Lac le Jeune near Kamloops, British Columbia in the summer of 2010.  Its been on my list to process for a while.  Loons are very difficult subjects with which to nail exposure.  If you try and expose for the head, the whites on the body will be blown and if you try to keep the whites well exposed, the head will be very dark and you'll have no feather detail. 

When I captured this image, I biased my exposure to get slightly more detail in the head and allow some of the highlights to clip.  After a bunch of work in Lightroom 3, this was the result I was able to come up with:

This was after doing some extensive local adjustments to try and recover as much detail as possible in the highlights.  I left it with the intention of completing the tonal work in Photoshop. 

Today, I opened up the image in Lightroom 4, converted it to Process Version 2012 and using the new targeted shadows and highlights adjustment tools I was able to get the tones where I wanted with the appropriate detail right in Lightroom.  The really neat thing about the new controls is that they keep haloing artifacts to a minimum.  Another major advantage of having local shadows and highlights is that I don't need to be as precise in my brushes.  With my LR3 local adjustment, I have to very careful with the brush (I have to use an exposure or brightness adjustment) because if I go into a neighboring region, that region will get affected.  With LR4, since I am only targeting shadows or highlights with a single local adjustment, if I go into a neighboring region and the tones there are very different, it isn't affected as much.  I should note that I also did some additional work on the background which is why its different from the LR3 version.

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