Have you ever taken a shot and then just dumped it in the trash without ever really processing it? I have to admit that I do it all the time. But every now and then I will refrain from hitting the delete key and start playing with the image just to see if I can make it better. It’s really just an exercise in post-processing but sometimes I really do find a better image hiding within.
Here’s an example. I took this shot at Nags Head and, at the time, thought it would be a cool shot with the waves and wind pounding against the stilted home. Then I downloaded it to the computer and found this.
Pretty blah, isn’t it? Let’s see if we can’t make it look a little more pleasing by going to the Develop module in Lightroom and making some adjustments to the Basic panel. First I adjusted the white balance and exposure, then I grabbed hold of the Blacks slider. There really aren’t any blacks in the image so I had to slide the Blacks all the way to 68 to start making things pop. I also adjusted the Clarity slider pretty heavily (+47) to get some more contrast into the mid-tones.
Here’s the result from those adjustments.
It’s better but far from good. Maybe some contrast adjustments to the Tonal Curve will help add some pop.
That’s a little better but now it’s time to do something a bit more drastic, like maybe turn it into a black and white. It’s pretty obvious that the colors in this image will never look more than flat but a nice B&W conversion might just do the trick.
I’m liking it more but the cropping of the image just isn’t doing it for me. Maybe a more pano look will be more interesting.
Now we are getting somewhere. I still wish that there was more definition in the waves so I’m going to use the Adjustment Brush to paint in Clarity at 100%.
And while I’m at it, I think it’s time for some split-toning. I tried several different looks but a blue color-cast seemed to be most fitting.
Now for a little more crop adjusting and some sharpening and I get this as my final result.
Here’s the starting image again, just as a refresher.
Now with all the adjustments and a nice mat to finish things off and we get something completely different than we started with. (click on the image to see a larger view)
You certainly won’t be able to resurrect every image that you take but sometimes it’s a good exercise to try and see if you can’t pull something out of nothing.