Here is a before and after shot of one of the tuxedo kitties recently at the Roanoke Valley SPCA. Just to demonstrate what a difference Lightroom can make in post production.
Steps I have taken to improve this photo are:
- Punch – Most always I give the photos a punch this amps the clarity (+30) and vibrance (+25). Sometimes it over corrects and I pull back the vibrance a bit.
- Exposure – the negative side of punch is that it darken the photos too much but I simply adjust the exposure to get the look I want. In this example +0.83
- Sharpen Faces – It is just one of those old school things I do. Best practice in my opinion. Remember this won’t fix a focus issue, it just enhances what you have and crisps it up.
Now usually it would stop about here BUT this is a lovely tuxedo kitty with black and white doing battle on the histogram so,
- Shadows – Adjustments to the shadows, this photo ended up being +17
- Blacks – Adjustments to Blacks, +7
Then we get to the heal and clone tool. Eye boogers are a must. But in this kitty’s photo I cleaned up the black fur just a bit and the reflection just below the right eye. I try not to go too crazy here but that is difficult for me. Particularly with black fur, dander and most anything not black will show up. One handler taught me a great trick to remove the dander pre-photo. A wet paper towel will pick up loose dander and lay down the fur nicely. And of course it is always easier to get the photo right and not have to do the editing later.
In the end the side by side comparison is remarkable. The benefit is that now the black-faced cat has distinctive features and you can really see her. Communication of the animal’s appearance is the goal and this is one of the tools I use to help. Let me know what you think.