Bump Up the Drama in Your Photos

Yesterday Lori shared with you a few Lightroom techniques I used to artistically post-process a photo she took in Shanghai.  If you missed it, you'll find it here.

Today, I want to show you one way to get a pretty cool and very popular effect using another one of Lori's Shanghai photos.  Here it is, before processing:

BUmp Up the Drama

The lighting in Shanghai must have been tricky that day because, like yesterday's photo, this one is pretty dark.

Lori and her camera did the best they could, given the extremes of the situation, by exposing the shot for the bright, white clouds outside.  But the colors under the eaves are very dark… even black… and many details are missing.

I knew when I processed this photo that I couldn't recover any details in the darkest parts… the black under the eves will remain black.  But I wanted to add some drama to it, so I processed it to the extreme.

The steps that I took would not be good for stock photography (I'll show you why at the end of this e-letter) but they are good for art… for fun… and they allow you to create some pretty cool-looking images from your pictures.

Here's how:

To get started, I cranked the exposure way up and pushed the tone sliders as far right as they go:

Then I pushed the Clarity to 100, Vibrance to +40, and pulled the Saturation down to -55.  Without a major drop in saturation, the colors are just way too neon with these other changes.

To get the dramatic results I was going for, I then jumped down to the color sliders and, under Saturation, knocked some colors way up:

Here's what I got:

Pretty fun-looking image, I think.

Now, as I mentioned, this final image is too modified to use for stock.  Here's why:

Take a look at the image at 100%:

What you see here is called "artifacting."

And if you look at where the dark areas of the photo meet the light areas, you get…

"Purple fringing" and other signs of excessive processing.

These are a couple of reasons why processing this shot or any other shot to this extreme, while very cool and even appropriate for some uses, is not acceptable for stock.

This shot could, however, be printed out as an 8x10 or maybe even an 11x14 and look quite beautiful on a wall somewhere.

[Editor’s Note: Learn more about how you can turn your pictures into cash in our free online newsletter The Right Way to Travel.  Sign up here today and we’ll send you a new report, Selling Photos for Cash: A Quick-Start Guide, completely FREE.]