After I posted the dragonfly image in the last article I went back to Lightroom and had a look at the raw file. And I was astonished to see how different it looked. I forgot how much retouching and modifying I did. “How much” is in terms of “achieving dramatic changes” and not as in “how much time and skill is necessary to achieve this look”.

Therefore I decided to show you the evolution of that image. With only a few tweaks in Lightroom I changed an image which was close to “dump it” after shooting to a nice macro image. Here it goes:

20120527dragonfly-raw-1-1That is the original. Dark, white balance off, the insect is not parallel to the image border. It is the only shot I could make because after this one it flew away. The first step I did in Lightroom was to set the correct white balance by selecting the white balance tool and clicking on a random spot on the wall. This is the result:


Tadaa, white is white. Next step: Rotate and crop. I tried different crops and chose to transform the image from portrait to landscape format because it fits the orientation of the dragonfly in the image.

20120527dragonfly-raw-1-3The dragonfly’s body is too dark, therefore I used the “Depths”-slider in Lightroom to enhance the dark areas (it is called “Tiefen” in German; I am not sure whether the slider is really called “Depths” in English, my apologies).

20120527dragonfly-raw-1-4Much better, now you can see a lot more detail on the insect’s body. The next step was minuscule – I used the repair tool for removing the small dark spot (dust on the sensor I reckon) in the bottom left corner.


Nearly there. The image was still too dark for my taste, so I knocked up the exposure a notch.


Last step. I wanted the background to be really white, so I raised the white levels.


And there we are. I really like that image, because it went from a snapshot to a fine-looking macro image (pixel peepers beware: Yes, I noticed the chromatic abberation around the legs and the body). And I learned three lessons here:

  1. Don’t give up on an image too early. After I took the shot I nearly deleted it because too many factors were off (exposure, framing etc.). But then I took the time to see what Lightroom can do. And I was rewarded.
  2. Shooting RAW is the way to go. I learned that lesson years ago, and this experience demonstrates very well that it is the right decision not to shoot JPG only.
  3. You don’t need to be a Photoshop guru (which I am not !) to transform a “solala”-image to something which will attract the attention of the viewer.