After Before Forum; Kamieńczyk Moody Sky

The After and Before forum is organised by Stacy Fischer, it is a place where amateurs as well as seasoned photographers explain the wow and how about their photo and editing decision.You can read more here about how to take part.

This week adobe announced to an anticipated surprise, they were upgrading Lightroom to version 6 or CC. As a subscriber to Adobe Cloud within a matter of hours I was able to download and install the new version of Lightroom. Although I had a few hiccups in getting it to launch (A bizarre log out of CC and Log in and then launch).

The rumours were true, all the features that were in the latest Adobe Camera Raw would migrate over to its cousin program. Like being able to make local adjustments more tailored for an image; for example erasing parts of gradients that go over buildings or extending a radius adjustment into more of a custom shape. A panorama editor and HDR toning was added to Lightroom, really removing the step of having to leave Lightroom to go to Photoshop or another program and then imported back again.

After Before forum Benjamin Rowe Wk46 Before


As a fan of natural looking HDR images this peaked my interest as I was watching Light room’s YouTube channel and picking out some info that might be important to the update. Something I did learn was to go to preferences and make sure you check the box for Lightroom to use your graphics card’s processor and change the custom catalogue preview to auto, to help speed up Lightroom and make it work more efficiently.

I did plan a slightly different image for today’s forum post, but I was too excited to play with Lightroom CC. I decided to try out the HDR feature on an image I took last summer that I had a bit of a problem editing.


First I selected the three exposures I wanted to merge to HDR, right clicked and chose merge to HDR. This opened a new dialogue box with options Auto Align (which helps align exposures if you took the pictures without a tripod), Auto Tone (that applies a toning to give a natural exposure that you can adjust later in the develop module) and different ghost removal options (I went with medium). I have to say that the auto align and ghosting worked really well, I will need to experiment how far this can be pushed.


Once the file was merged Lightroom created a DNG file (its version of raw). I jumped to the Develop module and applied a black and white toning with some contrast.


I added an inverted radial adjustment to the lower left of the image, reducing  the contrast and brightening  the mountain top.


Normally this is all I would be able to do unless I made that adjustment with a brush. Now however I can adjust the radial adjustment. I clicked on the brush option in the Adjustment pallet and clicked remove. On the bottom of the window I selected to show the adjustment area, which heighted the area with red. I used the brush first to remove the adjustment form the sky and then clicked auto mask to remove the adjustment from the sky close to the maintains edge to limit a halo effect.


Now with something like a base the image I wanted, I sharpened the image and appl;ied noise reduciton.


I added a gradient tool to darken the top of the image and as my wife would say, make the sky moody.


I added a brush adjustment tool to add some clarity to the clouds on the bottom right of the image.


I went back to my radial adjustment and refined my adjustments there to create a greater separation in tones.


Kamieńczyk moody sky

My final adjustments were just cleaning up the imge to remove some dust bunnies form the image. I adjusted the exposure slightly and added a slight blue to the shadows.

As HDR processing goes this was quite simple as well as creative. The auto toning is something similar to exposure fusion and gives a very wide range of tones to work from, similar to getting a 32 bit image from Photoshop.

As to what I think about my final image. I like the moody sky and the layers of depth as you move through the image. The darker and slightly contrasted tone works nicely to bring the image together and give an emotive feeling.  For me I am glad I was able to finally get the image edited as I have three other versions I am still not keen on.

Have you upgraded to Lightroom CC or are you going to be upgrading to Lightroom 6? ~What are your thoughts on the image and do you like how I have edited it?
Let me know your thoughts in the comment box below.


Also please head over to Stacy’s blog to see the other participant’s entries into this weeks forum

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25 thoughts on “After Before Forum; Kamieńczyk Moody Sky

  1. Very nice essay, Ben. LR is becoming an increasingly powerful program. So far, I have managed to resist it, sticking with Photoshop CC for everything after the Camera Raw adjustments. But the clock is ticking, I know it…….

    • Hi Robyn, now that lightroom has a cc version and will most likely get more regular updates like these I see my use of photoshop being more cleaning up or composite editing. I jumped to lightroom 18 months ago and my photoshop work has reduced greatly. Although I Mainly moved for the file management side of the program. It will be interesting to see what the future will hold.

  2. Wonderful clarity on the mountain, Ben. And very suited to BW. I find the line in the upper third distracting but it seems that line is in the original cloud formation too so perhaps is not to be helped. Unless it’s possible to make the gradation more subtle – ? As we say, just my opinion 🙂 An interesting post, as always; you certainly know your way around the software.

    • Hi Lynne, the line as you mentioned is natural in the clouds. I moved the gradient higher and with a longer transition, which had little effect in in its subtlety.
      This scene did lend itself to the black and white as there are many layered textures.
      Thanks for taking the time to comment Lynne.

  3. I have been reading about HDR editing in LR CC. You have just simplified it for me. My phone photos are taken in HDR so I must see what I can do with them. Love photo. Very subtle work but very effective.

    • The HDR editing in Lightroom is for create a HDR image from three exposures, On your phone if you take hdr images, the editing in lightroom will be the same as a normal image. Because the phone compacts the HDR into a Jepg and not a 32bit tiff.
      The best way to play with HDR in Lightroom CC is to take three exposures (bracketed) one over exposed, one under and one with the normal exposure and follow the steps I described in the post.
      If you have a DSLR Bracketing can be set up in camera to automatically take three exposures.

  4. I envy you. But only for a few days more. I ordered CC but they’re rolling it out and won’t be available out this way for another day or two, I was told. It seemed a no-brainer as it was only $20 more than 6 and will get updates where 6 will not. Also, B&H Cameras was running a special at $99 for the year. I am impressed with the new brushes that work with the radial and gradient filters. And, of course, the pano and HDR additions.

    • Thank You Emilio, I know there was some butt ache by non CC users because the update for them wasn’t as immediate as for CC users. Adobe is rolling it out though.
      The new brushes with local adjustments are great and since you don’t have to use just the brush adjustment for more complicated areas (which if you have a lot of them slows down the Lightroom ) everything runs much quicker.
      Hop you have fun with it when you get your hands on the program.

      • I am a non CC user and was going to just order the 6, but when I realized the cost difference of only $20 for the year and that I’d get updates, I quit my butt aching!

  5. Very nice Ben, this I image looks great in black and white. Great to see some of what LR6 can do too, I have the standalone version of LR5, but have been debating the CC version for a while, now I’ll have to start thinking again! have fun playing with version 6!

    • One of the big benefits for me with cc, is that you can get photoshop and lightroom for $10 a month. They also update photoshop regularly and not lightroom is cc I would guess that they will do that as well then release everything bundled in the next version. Meaning if you buy stand alone you will have to wait longer for new features.
      Thanks for your comment Katie.

  6. Love what you can do with the images. Is this a free program or there’s a monthly fee? I’m not a photographer professionally and it makes not sense to purchase something just for blogging. What are your thoughts?

    • Lightroom is a premium software that you can get via Adobe Creative Cloud for $10 a month with photoshop included or buy it stand alone but I am not sure of the price. The benefits of subscribing is you get the latest updates as they come out instead of waiting for a new version.

      If it is for you is something may need to think about but you can download it for a 30day trial. Personally if just for blogging it might be worth it as lightroom is quite easy to learn and can improve the look of pictures esp if you shoot in raw. If not maybe Picasa or something like this might be better.

  7. Ben, I’ve been having such great fun with the pano and HDR of functions of LRCC! I don’t know why I never used it in PS, but now that’s it’s “in-house,” I’m loving it! And, FYI, you actually can use HDR on just two photos if need be.

    The one thing I’m having a problem with is the selective adjustment tools. LR more often than not will freeze when I try to make adjustments to any of the filters. The screen will blink in and out and remove the effects I’ve added or changed from the picture, but not from the history. Very, very weird. I haven’t gone on to the Adobe boards to find out if others are having these problems.

    In any event, great tutorial about using some of these new adjustments. Lovely tones in the final image. So glad you were able to find the right mix!

    • Hi Stacy, HDR with two image reminds me of Exposure fusion, great if you have the extra under exposed shot of a landscape with a blown out sky. THe panorama merge is pretty good I tried it out yesterday. I am wanting to experiment with merging by bracketed exposures together into a panorama and then all of them into a HDR 😉
      I am not sure why you are having a problem with the brush in graident and radial adjustments, I did have my screen going blank on my laptop until I went to preferences and clicked for photoshop to use my Graphic’s Cards GPU, maybe that would fix it but I am at a loss at the minute.
      Glad you like the image, I am going to be experimenting so much over the coming weeks.

      • Thanks for the graphics card info. You did mention that in your post. I will definitely look into that because it’s really frustrating. As for pano and HDR, I actually did that this weekend. 6 shot pano with 3 each. I HDR merged each of the three and followed that with a pano merge. It worked beautifully! The ghosting choices are helpful, as sometimes choosing none is fine while other times low to medium works better. Overall, incredibly impressed! I’ll be interested to hear what you think once you try it out as compared to PS.

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