As with every shot, there is a gulf between what you must express as an artist and the data the camera provides. Below is an example of such work, "Ladies in a Row" from Bijin Grove in Niigata, Japan.


Further down I will detail the creative path that lead to the final shot.

Our sun's glory each morning is subtle yet overwhelming moment - shadows cast long, warm light surges forth, and the lucid mind's eye is set alight.

For mere technical information, this was based on a bracketed set shot in Aperture Priority mode at f/13 to create a subtle star burst with appropriate depth of field.

This overwhelming warmth and the powerful shadows it would yield were the focus of the edit, below is the workflow and tools used.


Raw editing in Lightroom allowed me to extract the perfect balance of highlights and shadows, global white balance, and initial sharpening. From here, the heavy lifting would occur in Photoshop.


Photoshop is where I manually blend exposures together to create the base by which I will build upon - at this point the image will lack appropriate contrast or detail, but it is all there waiting to be coaxed free.

From here there are a suite of tools that can be employed to establish the core contrast needed, I typically use tools by Nik Software as well as the Curves Adjustment Layer within Photoshop. Well balanced contrast is the key to dynamic color - saturation only pushes a color to a "pure" state, however, contrast shows the full spectrum of colors waiting to be unleashed within an image. It may be hard to believe, but I almost never add saturation to my images, instead, I seek to extract the perfect range of contrast available.

With the contrast established, I focused on pushing the shadows down while pulling out texture within. These shadows could be a powerful push to lead the eye towards the majestic sun.

I wrapped up final edits in Photoshop focusing on extracting textures from the leading trees and touching up lens flare problems.


From here, I bring the finished Photoshop file back into Lightroom for final core color, final highlight and shadow details, and metadata settings. For this image I reduced the overall Clarity (which is actually poison for color), the used Radial Filters to create a unique vignette, employed a Graduated Filter in the foreground for an added pass in the shadows, and finished by brushing in yet more texture on the trees. As a last pass, Lightroom can extract surprisingly powerful results from Photoshop files.


Photography can never stimulate your full five senses, but in the least, our sun and its moment of glory still burns in my mind.

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